Posts tagged with: inspiration
Posted by Dani Wade Apr 30 2013, 1:34 am in Dani Wade, Finding Her Rhythm, inspiration, muse, romantic suspense, Ruby Release, taking risks, writer's journey
One of the joys of my Indie-publishing endeavors is being able to write a book how it wants to be written– let the characters lead me and follow them without restraints (or into restraints, if that’s where they want to go). My editors have led my Harlequin books in great directions, strengthening them and my skills. But there are just certain things Harlequin books don’t do. So Indie publishing lets me explore different aspects of my creativity.
In this case, I was able to follow the leading of my hero – my rock star hero.
When I first envisionsed Michael Korvello, little voices nagged at me. There’s a long-held rumor that editors don’t want Rock Stars. They aren’t popular enough. But still he hung around – that bad boy, brooding rocker attracted to the anti-thesis of his high profile lifestyle, his nanny.
I just couldn’t get him out of my mind, and before long, despite the push and pull of my first print release and new proposals, I had the full-blown story of a man who was lonely but afraid of revealing his true nature. And a woman so battered by life that trust had been all but obliterated – especially for a first rate performer.
So I chose to follow my characters and discovered a world beneath a world. The performer who wants to be seen and loved as a real man. A family who misses him. A woman who learns to trust him to protect her. A brother who teases and torments him, but who always has his back – on and off the road.
They took me on a journey and I enjoyed every minute! (Well, until I reached revisions.) A journey of a family trying to find each other again, and a man hell bent on using his sexual talents to teach a woman everything that she’s capable of, and everything they can be together.
So let’s celebrate those fun journeys we get to take when we follow wherever our characters lead! Share the last “fun” discovery you made about your book/characters while writing!
One commenter will win a giftie! An Amazon or B&N giftcard for a new journey of discovery.
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Mar 13 2013, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, inspiration, motivation, perseverance
As a suspense author, I enjoy a mind game now and then, and have free rein to use them with my villains and even heroes and heroines. But today, I’m talking about how I use mind games on myself—as a tool to get motivated in my writing.
The “I Don’t Wanna” Complex
Hey, look! It’s already Wednesday. Hump day. The day of the week when I assess how the week is going. Have I encountered challenges that kept me from writing? Are these challenges in my head or external? If they’re in my head, how do I hope to overcome them to turn my week around and make it productive? Or, if I have been productive, how do I keep that momentum going instead of giving in to the temptation to relax and take a break (which frequently leads to difficulty getting back into the writing routine later)?
With spring around the corner, I find myself staring out the window more often, wanting to play instead of work. And I find it easier to say, “I can make up this gap in my word count goal later tonight, after the kids are in bed”… When I’m frequently too tired to write and then tell myself, I’ll do it tomorrow. It’s too easy to make excuses to play when I don’t feel like working.
Getting Over Myself
So how do I get myself (my procrastination and other road blocks) out of the way and get things DONE?
I hear Gollum’s voice saying, “she’s tricksy,” but I wear the badge with pride because I get things done. Whatever it takes, right?
If I’m stalled out, energy-wise, I give myself permission to use 30 minutes on something non-writing (with the caveat that I will then sit down and produce words). I trick myself into believing I’m giving in to my temptation to play, but it actually leads to work. Here are some methods I employ:
- Exercise. Taking a walk outdoors gets the blood pumping to all areas of the body – including the brain. I’ll admit to occasionally dancing around my house with upbeat music playing on Pandora, frequently tuned to the “Pink!” station.
- Brain teasers. Yes, more mind games…of a sort. Engaging in a puzzle (crosswords, Scrabble, and the like), as long as I limit the time I spend, can help open my mind to the potential of doing work that day. It also gets me thinking about words. (DANGER: Beware the time suck! Set a timer for 20 minutes!)
- Attend writer’s meetings, or read or write a blog post on craft. If a writer’s meeting isn’t in the immediate future, I’ll set up a writing sprint online or a one-on-one writing session with a friend who lives in town. Then I’ve got a commitment to keep. (Spending $5 on a coffee drink often encourages me I have to get some major work done to justify the cost!)
- Read the latest RWR or other craft magazine. Seeing what other writers are doing often encourages me to get my head back in the game.
- Read a book! Sometimes this gets me in the mood to write my own. And sometimes reading about other characters makes my own jealous, and they start nitpicking at me until I get back to their story.
- Cattle prod? No, I’m not serious…but, then again, having a timer works in a similar way. If I’m having trouble focusing, I’ll give myself permission to do something else for a few minutes, and set the timer on my iPhone to “prod” me to get back to work.
But what about writing? Once my brain is willing (or sometimes when it is still pouting in the corner but I need it to be willing), there are specific things I do to help me get back into the actual writing part of my day.
- Warm-up exercises. Free-writing for five minutes, catching up on emails, or jotting down notes for future scenes often helps me get my fingers warmed up. I also have a deck of idea cards for writers with prompts designed to get your brain thinking…things like “pick a scene and make your character do the opposite of what you’ve already written” or “tell the scene from another character’s POV.”
- Re-reading the last scene or two. This is almost a “must” for me to get my head back in the game. Besides, rereading helps me regain the energy of the moment I was in when I last wrote. I’ll also go back and reread the last scene in that character’s POV, so that I know what emotional and physical state I left her/him in and can continue from there. (DANGER: I often find myself wanting to edit what I wrote – which is okay if that’s my goal for the day. But if my goal is forward progress, generating more words, I have to stuff my inner critic into its box.)
- Playing what-if with the scene. I do this with troublesome scenes, when I can’t see where the story is going. I once read/heard somewhere that when brainstorming you should list as many possibilities as you can. Throw out the first five or so because they’re often the predictable ones. Go further down your list for an exciting option.
- The old switcheroo. Changing my location (where I write) or medium (what I’m working on – for instance, using pen and notepad versus a computer) sometimes gets the ideas flowing. I’ve always wanted to try a hand-held voice recorder – I think that would come in handy in these circumstances.
- Follow the energy. This is probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. Some days, I’m just not feeling it. I try to go where the energy is flowing that day – to work follow my brain’s natural path instead of going against the flow. This might mean writing a different scene than you’d planned to work on that day, or working on the synopsis or query letter instead of the manuscript. Whatever feels like forward progress is good. And stepping back to look at the global picture often helps me get back into the scene I need to write, and I’ll end up getting even more done than I’d intended. (Tricksy!)
- Set a timer or a low word count goal. Taking off a bite-sized chunk of the daily goal usually gets the ball rolling and tricks me into believing I am productive. Especially when, once my brain gets jump-started, my fingers can’t fly across the keyboard fast enough.
- Reward yourself! Peanut M&Ms work for me. I get five for every twenty minutes I spend at the keyboard. Or a bonus five if I finish a scene. If I’m trying to limit calories, I’ll let myself play online for a few minutes, or watch a segment (until the next commercial break) of The Followers or another favorite show. Choose whatever works for you (and fits your diet or budget)…small rewards can be just as helpful as large ones (which I reserve for finishing a round of edits or finishing a manuscript).
These are just a few of the mind games I play to make myself believe I’m playing when I’m really getting down to work…we won’t even go into the tricks I play on my characters once I’m in the scene and the words start flowing. (*insert maniacal laughter here*)
How about you? Do you have ways you trick yourself into being productive? What mind games do you employ when your brain wants to play instead of work?
Anne Marie is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and publishes her Mindhunters series through Carina Press and Harlequin. Always fascinated by people—inside and out—she earned degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling before becoming a fiction writer. As a stay-at-home mom of three young children, her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and writer.
She writes to reclaim her sanity.
You can find out more about Anne Marie at www.AnneMarieBecker.com.
Posted by Anne Barton Jan 29 2013, 12:00 am in Anne Barton, inspiration, Jane Austen, Ruby Release
Like many romance writers, I’m a huge Jane Austen fangirl. So, to celebrate the release of my debut novel, WHEN SHE WAS WICKED, I thought I’d share ten quotes containing Jane’s timeless wisdom and reveal why her advice still applies in the iPhone age—a mere 200 years after Pride and Prejudice was first published.
Jane on love (and understanding men):
“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” ―Pride and Prejudice
It doesn’t matter if they’re playing Beethoven in the ballroom or Kesha in the club. If you’re going to dance, you need to let go of those inhibitions and (as my dance teacher used to shout at me) “shake what your mama gave you.” This is a certain step toward gaining a gentleman’s attention, which could very well lead to capturing his affections. Or getting free drinks.
Posted by Kate Parker Jan 25 2013, 12:26 am in inspiration, Winter Writing Festival
I’m sure you’ve all heard the song “I hope you dance.” It came back to me forcefully in, of all places, dance class.
I call the class “Line Dancing for Zombies.” While many of our classmates are young and active, we have one lady who is 91 and another in her mid 80s. One of my classmates had a complete knee replacement less than six months ago and is dancing rings around me because I dance like a pregnant water buffalo. A good reason to line dance. It saves on apologies to partners.
Today we had a man join our class who is on portable oxygen. He didn’t know any of the steps; none of us do when we first join. He had the extra weight of the oxygen tank to carry with him as we moved and turned. He shuffled through the class, watching what the rest of us were doing and trying to keep up.
He made it through the class. He had the choice to sit out exercise with his oxygen bottle or make the effort to come in to the YMCA and dance, and he danced. It was his own steps rather than what is choreographed for each piece of music as he tried to figure out what we were doing, but he danced.
We’re two weeks into the Winter Writing Festival. By now the first flush of excitement is over, and the tedious slog of doing what you said you would do every day is wearing you down. Things are coming up in your life. The dust bunnies are multiplying, the kids are coming down with the flu, a new project has come up at work demanding more of your time.
Like the man who had the extra weight of the oxygen bottle and lungs that must have quickly begun to burn from the need to rest, you have a choice. You can sit out putting those words on paper or on the computer screen, or your fingers can dance across the keyboard. I hope you dance.
How is the Winter Writing Festival going for you?
Posted by Dani Wade Jan 8 2013, 1:00 am in craft, inspiration, reading, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life
How many times have you stood in a group of writers and heard this:
“I never have time to read anymore.”
“It’s been a year since I’ve read anything besides my own work.”
“I don’t read because (insert reason here). But that’s okay.”
Um, no. It isn’t.
I’ve heard statements like these aplenty through the years and they’ve always made me a little sad. It wasn’t until I found myself in the same boat that I started to examine this phenomenon. There are so many excuses for us, as writers, to not read, and the majority of them boil down to one basic reason: TIME.
But I’ve begun to question: Will our writing/creativity suffer if we don’t read?
Reading for pleasure should be a treasured gift to writers. After all, the majority of us came to writing through reading. But it also allows writers to:
1. Re-experience what its like for a reader to get “lost in a book”. We all have memories of this magical phenomena, but the more distant the recollection, the less the potency. Reaffirm your own wish for your readers by returning to your reading roots.
2. Absorb new techniques – not by “studying/dissecting” the written word, but through effortless osmosis. Just like we did before we ever started writing. Later, after you come out the other side of the story, you can ask yourself why you loved the characters or what kept you turning the page. But relax and let your writer’s eye take knowledge in while your reader’s brain is fully engaged.
3. Doing anything you enjoy, sparking your imagination, refills the creative well that gets drained with every project you invest yourself in. It relaxes you, opens your creativity to possibilities, and generally brings us to that peaceful place where we can create without straining or overburdening ourselves.
4. Being a writer doesn’t mean forsaking those things we enjoy. If we do, then our writing suffers. This quote from NYT bestselling author Linda Howard explains this very well:
The fact is, being a writer doesn’t mean you have no life other than writing, any more than being a schoolteacher means you live in the classroom and do nothing else. Our lives are just like everyone else’s, other than the writing part. We still have dentist appointments, need flu shots, have fender-benders and children (not sure there’s a difference <G>). Those things — normal as they are — are stressful enough without throwing in the added stress of feeling frantic because they’re taking away from our writing time. We still need to enjoy ourselves. We’re driven by some weird internal chemistry, but we need to give ourselves a break.
Life happens to everyone. It’s here for us to live, and we should live it, because otherwise we’ve thrown away the most precious part of our writing. If we give up doing what we enjoy, whether it’s reading or taking long walks or anything else, we’ve given away a precious spark that makes us more human. Yeah, you may write a more technically perfect manuscript if you devote every free hour to it, but if you really live, you’ll be able to write a more vital, human manuscript — and, as a reader, I can tell you that I’d rather read a book where the characters come alive, than one that’s technically perfect but is as limp as uncooked bacon.
That about says it all…don’t you think?
While I know all of this is true, TIME is still an issue. Believe me, as a writer with a full-time day job and a family, I know this is true. So let me share some strategies for fitting reading into a very busy life.
1. Read a little each night before bed or to unwind after work. If you’re the type of reader who can string out a good book, twenty minutes a day would work well for you. Give you a little boost at the end of a long day.
2. Another option for this type of reader is to carry a book in your purse and read while waiting in line, out to eat, etc. Fill those little pockets of time with the yumminess of good characters and thrilling plots.
3. I, unfortunately, can’t read a short time and put an interesting book down. I’m more of a binge reader, so I’ve set up a reward day (or weekends for big projects) when I give myself permission to indulge. Some reward-worthy tasks include finishing a rough draft, after revisions, after completing a writing challenge, or after a set period of strenuous writing. Then I can dip into a new book guilt-free (mostly) and come back to my own writing refreshed.
4. Set up a regular date night – just yourself and your new favorite book. Whether its once a week, every two weeks, or one weekend a month, mark your calendar for a regular reading time as a reminder that its important (and essential to your creative function) to enjoy some downtime.
So as a writer, do you still read? Let’s talk about the whys, the why nots…and how you work reading into your writing schedule.
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Nov 2 2012, 12:01 am in Anne Marie Becker, goals, inspiration, motivation, perserverance
It’s been six weeks since we saw each other last. (Where did the time go?) If you’ll recall, I gave you a little push in the form of a writing challenge waaaay back on September 19th, hoping it would generate a massive wave of productivity. Today is the conclusion of that challenge, and it’s time to check in. Drumroll, please…
My “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal: Complete 60,000 words of a new project by October 31st.
My reality: 61,707 words as of 10/31.
There were struggles, and some very difficult days in which focus was elusive. At least five days, kids were home from school, sick and needing Mommy. Some days, I hit a roadblock in my plot that I struggled to get past. And some days I just felt like procrastinating. There were a couple days when I was traveling or family was visiting, and it made it that much harder to jump back into writing.
Whenever I felt like I wanted to slack off or let things slide, I remembered you were holding me accountable. (Um,…thanks? <grin>)
I also found that having a plan helped. I stuck to my decision to spend the first several days plotting. Using Hope Ramsay’s recent post “Using Scrivener for Plotting,” I was able to organize my thoughts and hit the ground running on 9/24. I found that, when I could, using the evenings to plot and organize the next day’s scenes helped.
What did I learn? That I can do it! But I also learned that my maximum of 5,000 words is not a pace I would care to keep up day in and day out, and 3,000 is a more comfortable goal. Some days I wrote 300-500 words and that was quite the achievement. Being flexible was oh-so-important on days when I felt like one more apple on my cart would topple the whole thing. Most of all, I learned to go easy on myself when I don’t make it. Some days are highly productive, some aren’t. But enjoying life is important to keeping my creative juices flowing, too.
What’s Next? I’ve decided to set this project aside for a few weeks before I go back and finish the last third of it. I simply need a mental break from it. Besides, while I wanted to start a new series, my Mindhunters series is calling to me, too. With National Novel Writing Month starting up yesterday, I wanted to begin with a brand new project that will (hopefully) rejuvenate me. Perfect timing. (I’m “Anne Marie B” on NaNo’s site by the way, if anybody wants to buddy-up.)
The best part of the Ruby Push: I am a writer who seems to make the biggest strides in the editing stage. Having something other than a blank page to work with will help me out so much.
If you missed the 9/19 post, let me know your goals for NaNo, or simply for the rest of 2012. If you posted goals on September 19th in the Comments section, let me know how they turned out (for better or worse or a totally different direction). If you met your goals and let me know in the Comments below by Sunday, November 4th at midnight Eastern time, you’ll be entered in a random drawing for two $10 Amazon gift cards.
Keep focused and GOOD LUCK to you all as you immerse yourself in the holidays, or NaNo, or whatever new challenge awaits you. Don’t forget the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival starts in January!
Posted by Amanda Brice Oct 24 2012, 12:01 am in book promo, books, cookbook, cooking, ebooks, excerpt, inspiration, new releases, promo, recipes, Ruby Release, writer's life
The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood — publishing quality non-fiction since 2012.
Well, actually that’s not quite true. If you count our blogs posts — most of which are on craft of writing and business of writing — then I guess we’ve been publishing quality non-fiction since 2009. But I don’t mean blogging. I mean actual publishing . . . of ebooks!
Yes, that’s right, Ruby Readers. The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood has just released our very first ebook — a cookbook! Introducing Eat, Read, Love: Romance and Recipes from the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood!
Cute cover, huh? Special thanks to Laurie Kellogg for designing it. Editing and layout done by Amanda Brice and Kim Law.
So what is Eat, Read, Love? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s a literary cookbook. We’ve compiled 59 recipes inspired by the pages of our books. Whereas some cookbooks pair their recipes with wine, ours are paired with excerpts. In some cases, the characters actually do eat the meal in the excerpt!
And the best part is that it’s 100% FREE. Yes, you read that right. It’s our gift to our readers, old and new.
So what dishes can you expect to see? It’s a very eclectic — and delicious – list!
Allergen-Free Pad Thai (from Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice)
Chinese Sausage and Sticky Rice in Banana Leaves (from My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin)
Pernil Al Horno (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork Shoulder) (from Avenging Angel by Anne Marie Becker)
Jalapeño Chicken (from Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell)
Grandma Rose’s Varenyky (Ukrainian Pierogies) (from Pas De Death by Amanda Brice)
Angelo the Mobster’s Pasta Primavera (from The Good Daughter by Diana Layne)
Olivia’s Seafood Salad (from Under Fire by Rita Henuber)
Alaskan Crab Cakes (from The Doctor’s Mile High Fling by Tina Beckett)
Easy-Peasy Meatloaf (from Chase Me by Tamara Hogan)
“Hide the Peas, Please” Chicken Pot Pie (from Intrusion by Cynthia Justlin)
Cole’s Poorman Stew (from In the Presence of Evil by Autumn Jordon)
New Mexican Green Chile Stew (from First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones)
Cock-A-Leekie Stew (from Prophecy by Heather McCollum)
Almost Medieval Leek Soup (from Lady Unbound by Elise Hayes)
Henri’s Turtle Soup (from A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-Weber)
Caruru do Pará (Brazilian Shrimp Gumbo) (from Doctor’s Guide to Dating in the Jungle by Tina Beckett)
Abram’s Game Day Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (from Under the Autumn Sky by Liz Talley)
Abby’s Fatten-up-Mac Green Bean Casserole (from The Memory of You by Laurie Kellogg)
Millie Polk’s Squash Casserole (from Home at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay)
Bacon and Egg Fried Rice (from Taste Me by Tamara Hogan)
Sultana’s Rice (from Kismet’s Kiss by Cate Rowan)
Stasia’s Vinegret (Russian Potato, Beet, & Carrot Salad) (from Underhanded by Shoshana Brown)
Violet Easley’s Okra and Stewed Tomatoes (from Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsay)
Eat These Fries (from Kiss that Frog by Cate Rowan)
Dare To Be Different Barbeque Sauce (from Snow Bound by Dani Wade)
Alex’s Killer Pasta Sauce (from His Witness to Evil by Autumn Jordon)
Annie’s Favorite Hot Sauce (from Waters Run Deep by Liz Talley)
Devil’s Dust (from Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones)
Triple Chocolate Cake (from Caught on Camera by Kim Law)
Summer’s Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (from Perfect Summer by Katie Graykowski)
Ryker’s Favorite Mint Brownies (from Her Own Best Enemy by Cynthia Justlin)
Tiramisu (from Thoroughbreds and Trailer Trash by Bev Pettersen)
Profiteroles (from Party Like It’s 1899 by Amanda Brice)
Hannah’s Heavenly Cinnamon-Almond Squares (from Hypnotic Seduction by L.L. Kellogg)
Picou Dufrene’s Infamous Pecan Pralines (from The Road to Bayou Bridge by Liz Talley)
Tara’s Mother’s Southern Pecan Pralines (from Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly)
Maggie’s Amazing Pecan Pie (from A Little Bit of Deja Vu by Laurie Kellogg)
Jenny Carpenter’s Secret Pie Crust (from Last Chance Beauty Queen by Hope Ramsay)
Cream Cheese Pie (from Only Fear by Ane Marie Becker)
Nicole’s To-Die-For Apple Pie (from Seized by Darkness by Autumn Jordon)
Susanna’s Sonker (from Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston)
Fried Banana Nuggets (from Edge of Light by Cynthia Justlin)
Betts’ Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Place Your Betts by Katie Graykowski)
Jilian’s “Best of Earth” Cookies (from The Source of Magic by Cate Rowan)
T-Bone Carter’s Biscuits (from Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay)
Cinnamon Rolls (from Sugar Springs by Kim Law)
Sausage Gravy & Biscuits (from Jimmie Joe Johnson: Manwhore by Lindsey Brookes)
Lucy’s Rum Cake “Stud Muffins” (from The Ghost Shrink, The Accidental Gigolo, & The Poltergeist Accountant by Vivi Andrews)
Sam’s Keep-Dani-Healthy Greek Omelet (from The Great Bedroom War by Laurie Kellogg)
Huevos Rancheros (from Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones)
Lucky’s Lucky Charms (from Getting Lucky by Katie Graykowski)
Dani’s Mango Madness Smoothie with Raspberry Swirl (from Pointe of No Return by Amanda Brice)
Homemade Skinny Latte (from Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte by Diane Kelly)
Parish Cocoa (from Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Vivi Andrews)
Captain Drake’s Rum Drinks (from The Siren’s Song by Jennifer Bray-Weber)
Cookie’s Mucho Magnifico Margaritas (from Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones)
Bonnie Pratt’s Easy-Peasy Peach Sangria (from Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria by Diane Kelly)
Sample Menu from 1890s Dinner Party (from The Vanishing Thief by Kate Parker)
16th Century Herbal Remedies (from Captured Heart by Heather McCollum)
Hungry yet? I know I’m starved just reading the list!
You can grab your own copy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, or download a PDF copy right here from this website! (It isn’t at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Sony, or Diesel yet, but we expect it to be soon.)
Be sure to spread the word, and happy cooking!
(By the way, by downloading a copy, you’re actually doing us a big favor, by helping get our numbers up, which increases our exposure. So if you’ve ever been entertained or informed by our blog, this is a great way to thank us!)
Posted by Autumn Jordon Sep 20 2012, 12:01 am in Autumn Jordon, characterization, craft, golden heart, inspiration, Movitation, muse, Point Of View, Seasonings, Seasons, writer's advice, writer's journey, writer's life, writing romance, writing tips, writing tools
If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong. Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.
My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already. So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.
Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lecture, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world, and ‘Wala’ I think I came up with unique tutorial for our awesome followers.
Posted by Anne Marie Becker Sep 19 2012, 12:01 am in inspiration, motivation, perseverance
Project: Ruby Push
I don’t know about you, but it seems this year has been flying by at a record pace. The change in weather, the return of the kids to school, and the looming end of the year have me re-evaluating what time I have left, and what my goals were waaaay back in January. It’s the final countdown, and I’m here to push myself, and you. (You didn’t think I was going to do this alone, did you?)
Why a push? A shove is kind of rude. And this isn’t a kindly nudge, it’s a “wake up, there are only three months left until 2013!” full-on push. NaNoWriMo isn’t until November 1st, and the Ruby Winter Writing Festival seems a long way from now, so I say we take charge of our goals NOW. Let’s do this. (Do you see me putting my eye-of-the-tiger face on? My pom-poms are waiting beside me, ready to cheer you on, too.)
First, let’s set some goals. Goals should be “SMART.”
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Realistic
- T = Timely
I’ll give you my current goals as an example. Specifically, over the next six weeks (I’ve given myself a November 2nd deadline) I’m planning to write 60,000 words of a new manuscript. (Secretly, I’m hoping to achieve a full, 90,000-word rough draft of a novel, but I’m a little afraid that’s not within the realm of “realistic” for me. I’m still pushing for it, though.) I will be able to measure my progress by word count. The goal is attainable and realistic, because I know I’ve produced 10,000 words (occasionally more) in a week, and my schedule for the next few weeks is dedicated to writing.
Now that I know what I want to achieve, it’s time for a plan.
- Visualize it, and believe it can happen. (And it CAN happen, because you’ve set realistic goals, right? Right. So, no excuses.) This week, I’ve been working on plotting out a detailed outline of my manuscript, so that I’m already getting to know my characters and plot and I can jump into writing with both feet.
- Make writing a priority. I will sacrifice other things – reading, TV time, and—if I must—housework (oh, darn), in order to make my word count each day.
- Look ahead. I’ve taken a look at my planner/calendar and know what days will be tough to focus on writing (for various reasons). I’m planning to accommodate for those by writing more on the days my schedule is lighter. (See “Be flexible…”)
- Be flexible. I plan to build a buffer into my word goals so I can take a sick day if needed, and take a day off every now and then. Some days, when my obligations are fewer, I plan to write 3,000 words. Others, such as weekends when the family is around, I plan closer to 1,000 words. If I miss a day’s goals, I will not be discouraged. I will be doing the best I can, and that’s enough. (But I’ll still push myself, because creating a new manuscript in 6 weeks would be AWESOME.)
- Reward hard work. I believe in celebrating small successes as well as the larger goals. A special meal with hubby or a glass of wine after a particularly grueling day. A 30-minute nap. A walk around the block in the sunshine. Buying a new book. Whatever will rejuvenate you and get you away from the computer for a bit—make a plan to include that in your routine when you meet your goals, at least something each week. (And plan an extra-special reward for November 2nd!)
- Use others—in a nice way, of course, which is why you’re here. You’re going to hold me accountable, and maybe I’ll see you on Twitter (#1k1hr, anyone?) or Facebook, where I’ll be posting my progress regularly. Please feel free to share your progress, too. I’m motivated by others’ success, and I understand the tough days, too. I think I’ll invent hashtag #RubyPush for this purpose.
Okay, it’s your turn. Don’t be shy. Now’s the time to make your goals a reality. It’ll be 2013 before we know it.
Post your goals below – make them SMART. Word count, page count, or whatever measurement works for you. What’s your plan? What are you willing to do to make these goals a reality?
And because I believe rewards are important, I’ll be giving away a couple small incentives when we check in six weeks from now, on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd. Non-rubies who post their goal(s) in the comments TODAY and who meet their goals by 11/02/12, AND let me know by commenting on the Ruby blog on 11/02, will be eligible to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards I’ll be giving away that day). I expect you to set goals that are going to challenge you. And yes, we’re using the honor system, because my faith in the goodness of humanity is still strong… Happy writing!
Posted by Vanessa Barneveld Sep 17 2012, 12:00 am in ebook, inspiration, Ruby Release
The Story Behind the Publication Story
When our Darynda Jones won a RITA in July, she encouraged me rub her statuette after the awards ceremony. “For good luck,” she said. I believe everything Ms. Jones says, so I immediately took her up on that offer.
Darynda’s lucky RITA statuette
And wouldn’t you know it? Good fortune started pouring in faster than I could say, “There’s no place like the best-seller lists.” I scored a front-row seat at a Chris Isaak concert near San Fran two days before the gig without even trying. Swoon. It did cost a small fortune, but let’s not quibble. Guitar tech, Ken Cheatwood, was only too happy to chat with me about Chris’s guitars before the band went on. My hands shook as I snapped photos of him and the guitars. He smiled and told me there was no need to be nervous. I told him I was trembling due to the cold mountain air. In actual fact, I really was freaking out, but I didn’t want to seem uncool by saying so. Somehow I don’t think I fooled Ken.
Chris Isaak in a modest mirror-ball suit
Next night, I drove to the same mountain-top venue to see Duran Duran‘s gig, and narrowly avoided a low-speed collision with a tree and a parking attendant (Hey, I don’t normally drive on the American side of the road.) The parking attendant was very kind, and no there was no damage done to his limbs or the tree’s limbs. Lucky!
The following morning, Duran Duran’s frontman Simon Le Bon posted a suggestive tweet about the scorching Bay Area weather. I responded within 20 seconds and he retweeted me to his 80,000+ followers. Double swoon. Seriously, this was like close encounters of the third kind — contact with a higher life form, someone I’ve idolized for three decades. If we’re going be technical, he didn’t write back to me per se, but the episode turned me into a grinning fool for a week. It ties in spookily well with my next nugget of luck, the biggest of all…
The retweet that made my day
Upon my arrival from the U.S. in mid-August, I noticed an email from HarperCollins Australia in my inbox. Figuring it had to be a rejection (because how lucky can one person be?) I didn’t open it right away. But when I did… Oh, my. There was my very first acceptance letter for a work of fiction – a sweet short story called The Tweetest Thing, which was e-published TODAY as part of an anthology, URL Love: From Texting to Twitter, the Hottest Online Love Stories.
How does my short story tie in with Simon Le Bon’s retweet? I was inspired to write The Tweetest Thing after seeing Duran Duran live for the first time back in March. In the story, introverted and sensible Jess connects with a music icon via Twitter, but will they go one step further into the real world? In real life, introverted and often silly Vanessa connects with a music icon via Twitter. It’s a case of life imitating art, however, I can assure readers, my husband and the gorgeous Mrs. Yasmin Le Bon that the real-life cyber connection ended very quickly!
The URL Love anthology from HarperCollins Australia
HarperCollins Australia’s URL Love is a collection of ten short stories set in the age of lookin’ for love online. It’s available now in digital format from Amazon and iBookstore. Visit the Facebook fan page and listen to the Harper staff read out lines from the stories.
Thank you for bearing with the blog’s temporarily sedate server speed today. If you’re “Hungry like the wolf,” grab a snack and let’s talk. One commenter will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Have you interacted with your idols through social media? Want to chat about Simon and Yasmin Le Bon, Duran Duran and/or Chris Isaak? Did getting up close and personal with Darynda’s RITA Award bring you good luck, too?