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Posts tagged with: Autumn Jordon

ONE MORE WORD OR MAYBE JUST ONE WORD

I realized only minutes ago (Sunday evening 10:30 p.m.) that I scheduled to blog here at RSS on Monday. In a panic, I found this blog I wrote almost ten years ago (now updated) and realized that my life has changed a lot since then but also, I’m just as busy. I’m still working outside the home—actually studying for another career too—and I’m now helping my son raise his two sons. Motherhood in your golden years is challenging, but oh so fun. And finding time to write is  still a chore. Most days it doesn’t seem like I have a minute to breathe much less craft a great story, but I’ve done it and will again and again and again.

My motto has always been; word by word, line by line and page by page, and by staying true to that frame of mind, I’ve written thirteen 80K novels in as many years.

Here are a few things I did or gave up to write;

1) I limited my social media and television viewing.

2) I wake earlier, before others in the house, and spent an hour or two in another world.

3) If I wake in the middle of night, which is often, I’ll make notes.

4) I carry pages with me and worked on the wip while waiting for scheduled appointments, sports practice, or even in the lot at grocery store before I shop.

5) Lunch break is a great time to add a paragraph or two.

6) I set goals every day.

7) I’ve made notes in church. You’d be surprise at the inspiration that enters you while in the house.

8) I write while I cook. Keep that pencil and pad with you at all times. I even have a pad of water proof paper near my shower.

9) I joined the RSS WWF in January and scheduled myself in the chat room at least five hours a week. Accepting a hostess responsibility put my butt in chair.

10) I’ve faithfully attended my writing chapter’s monthly meetings and spent a some time writing there before heading home.

11) I get out of the house, away from the chores (I can always find more to do around the house.) and go to the library to write. Some of my friends go to coffee shops.

12) I use my tape recorder function on my phone when I’m walking or sitting in traffic.

13) I’ve made my children,  and now grandchildren, responsible for their rooms and only interfered with their farm of dust bunnies when a health issue becomes apparent.

14) I’ve learned to say YES when it’s really important for me to do so. Otherwise, it’s a “I’ll do what I can, if I’m free that day.”

15) I don’t read every book to the end. If I’m not involved with the story, I move on. Time is too precious.

16) During the season, I don’t try to keep up with the Jones next door. I mow my grass every ten days instead of every Friday.

17) I make time for family and friends because they inspire me.

18) I try to schedule a new adventure every few months, because I need excitement. Guess who attended Celtic Fest last weekend and is going to Ireland in 2019? Living a mundane life, shows in the writing. JMO

19) I don’t have the cleanest car on the block, or house for that matter, but I do have a ton of friends in my head.

20) I spend time each day looking up at the sky and thanking the higher power for giving me a talent that I love!

 

I’m sure some of you can add to the list. Please do. I’m always looking for ways to find seconds to get inspiration and work.

 

What My Mother, And Walt, Didn’t Tell Me

Life is messy. I don’t know one person who is living the fairy tale that Walt and his tribe, lack of social media, and the sheltering love of parents helped us to envisioned as children. Disagreements were once about how we were affected. Now they included our families, our communities and our world’s state, and these disputes are not easily forgotten with a hug.  Disease, accidents, and death are no longer something that happens to someone else. Financial responsibility is more than adding dimes to a piggy bank. Social manners go beyond saying please and thank you. The news is aired 24/7, and viewed by children. Life is messy.

My grandmother had a saying. If everyone in the room tossed their problems into a pile and then were told to go pick one out, most would pick their own.  

Why would we do that? Because we know what we’re dealing with, we have experience handling it, and we have a sense where we’re headed. Starting over with new problems requires a lot of energy, physically and mentally. Many don’t want to do that. A few don’t have any more stamina left to give. The rare person will give up a less important problem and take on a life threatening one. They are heroes.

Readers love to escape their world. They want to read about other peoples’ problems and learn how they resolve them. They don’t want to read about a fairytale life. They know that world doesn’t exist.  They want to connect with your characters and causing your reader to sympathize with your characters is a way to connect. Give your readers a hero or heroine to cheer for.

 

Life will always be messy, especially in great works.  

 

 

 

                                   

Autumn Jordon is an awarding-winning author of Romantic mystery/suspense and contemporary romance. Check out her sexy U.S. Marshals in the C.U.F.F. series, or fall in love with her characters in the Perfect Love Series. 

 

 

 

Just Contempt

Has this ever happened to you?

I read continuously. Sometimes two books at a time. This past week I took my grandsons to the library and even though I have hundreds of books sitting in my office and on my kindle that I’ve not read yet, I had to have another world to step into.  I picked up a book by an author who I recently heard of but never read before and dove in. That evening, after reading twenty odd pages, I closed the book and went to sleep, thinking it’s the beginning. It’ll get better. The author is a NYT best selling author. The book was edited and published by one of the big five houses. One of the two publishers I’d always dreamt of being part of their stable of authors. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

After reading a third of the book, because I was really trying to give this author a chance, I went on-line and read the reviews for this story and was amazed that the majority of reviewers, like seventy-five percent of the people reviewing the story, felt the same way I did about the characters. We didn’t feel anything. Well, maybe contempt for taking up our value time.

I continued to read, skipping paragraphs at first and then pages, looking for some reason to like the characters and continued on, (I’m a determined Scorpio after all), but there was only more whining from the heroine and more one-track sexist thoughts from the hero. This was a suspense for goodness sakes. What about the murderer still at large?  What about some thought about saving lives? Other characters were dying.

At a little over the halfway point, I stopped.  Feeling totally disappointed and annoyed, I closed the book.  I was glad I hadn’t spent money on this book. Will I read this author’s work again? I’m honestly not sure. This wasn’t her first book. It was like her twelfth. If it had been her debut book, then I’d probably give her a second chance to win my loyalty.

I then picked up a book from my TBR pile. One that I’ve been meaning to read for years.  A classic time travel published in the nineteen seventies and within twenty pages I was intrigued by the main characters and the possibility of the plot. I even chuckled at a line. I’m totally enjoying it.

Stories are about people and what happens to them. And for readers to enjoy the story, they MUST connect with the characters. It’s that simple.  It doesn’t matter if the main character is an archeological professor in the 1940’s searching for treasures or an old man on a boat or the widow who inherits a football team.  Readers must like or become invested in them immediately. In order for you, the author, to pull this off, you must know your characters.

There is no right way or wrong way or one way to accomplish this.  My way is to first scan pictures and find physical forms for my characters. It’s easier for me to have conversations with them knowing what they look like. Then I figure out one trait about them my readers will admire and one thing that will connect the character with a large portion of readers by way of relation or sympathy (goals).  Why did I say large portion and not all? Because in the realm of things, humans have very few universal similarities. We all need air, food and water to live. We all have a lineage; ancestors but some of us could care less about our pasts.  Most humans need human connection, but there are those who do not. All of us believe in something, even if it’s not to believe in anything.  A majority of people want to help other humans and or other life forms, but again, there are those who could care less. None of us have live through the all same experiences. We are unique but we do still connect.

After I have those three character’s features, I begin to write my story.  At this point, I don’t know everything about my characters– I’m a hybrid pantser/plotter—but I begin to write the moment when their lives change. As I put them into situations they reveal their innermost desires and fears to me and usually by the black moment I know them like I know myself. During revisions, layering in everything I’ve learned in unique ways is a challenge, but so much fun and so rewarding.

How do you develop a character that readers will love?

Or tell us, why a particular favorite character stands out in your memory? How did the author connect you with him or her?

 

To Be A Writer or Not?

I officially started on this publishing journey twenty years ago last month. I’ve written millions of words before, just not for the public, but at some point (It was a sunny day), I pulled on my big girl panties and walked into a writers group meeting where there were other people who talked to the characters in their heads just like I did. They were the lost family I never knew existed and I was home. Since then, while the family I was born into (well, some of the family) supported my need to create, I worked my a** off to learn as much as I could about the craft of writing and to take advice from those who succeeded in winning the public’s hearts. Just when I reached a point that big houses doors were cracking open, the industry took a one-eighty turn. E-readers were released and like any new toy the techs in my generation and the generation behind me coveted them like chocolate. New businesses were formed every day to handle the need for authors to fill these readers with their stories, ie small epubs. You know the rest of the story. You lived it.

 

The one thing I heard constantly in the early years of my training was, “Don’t quit your day job.” Authors who had large followings, like SEP, Debbie McComber, Linda Howard, Susan Brown, etc. etc. stood on conference stages and warned us this business is fickle. You are up one moment flying high among the stars and then suddenly the floor drops out and down you’ll crash.  Yes, some authors will float down gently and might even hover in the sky like a kite on a gentle breeze  (because they’ve earned the large following) but most writers will not. Let me repeat that. Most writers WILL NOT make a living from this career. Those who do make a career out of writing are doing jobs that they might not love, like tech writing or free lance articles, editing, ghost writing. This in not something new. Writing, like any art, has always been a low paying career.  So why do it?

 

I can tell you that I plan to continue to write, because creating stories I love is what I love to do. I’m going to be smart about where I spend my income (no second house or new car). While I think conferences are important to attend, I’ve got to be very choosy which ones have valve to me. Maybe an on-line class or retreat would feed my muse better. I also need to spend my advertising budget where I get the biggest bang for my buck.  A few things I will not lower my standards on is editing, copy-editing and covers.  If I need to supplement my funds in order to publish my future stories, I will. I’ve taken a part time job, because I love writing. I love myself. And I love my family.  I will not take from family funds, but I will work at a job that brings in a steady income, and I will spend a little of the money earned on my true desire.  Who knows, one day I might write a story that will be on the shelves generations from now. That book might help my grandchildren in their retirement years.

So what are your thoughts on the down-turn of the industry? And how do you plan to handle your writing career?

 

FYI: Did you know Edgar Allen Poe never made a living as a writer? He couldn’t support his family from all his works and died penniless.

 

 

 

Not A Blue Bird In Sight

A blank page sits in front of you. The sharpened point of your pencil taps against the lined paper, or that black cursor blinks at you, mocking your muse to write something readers will find entertaining. What you envision scrawled across that page and every page afterwards may be a full-length novel, a short story or just a blog post. But you’re frozen in time like a deer in the headlights of a semi-truck. Your heart pumps your blood through your veins so fast every nerve sizzles and every muscle twitches with anticipation of what will come to life in your mind and then make its way through your fingertips and on to the page.  And you know, as sure as you know the sun will set tonight that if an idea fails to spark you’ll just….

What? What will you do?

Hit your head harder against the wall?

Die?

Quit?

HA!

 

Writing is in your blood, so relax. We all have days, weeks, and sometimes even months that the page remains blank, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a seed of an idea growing inside of you.

In this age, where everyone wants more yesterday and authors are pressured to produce several books a year, stress has risen to new levels for authors and stress does what? Makes us focus on what is causing us the stress.  So, stop focusing on not having an idea and focus on your well-being. Study craft books, read, take a class, read, critique another writer’s pages, read, have a plotting party, enjoy life and people watch… You get the idea. Feed your muse. Once you’ve done that, the words will flow.

Remember, in life, it’s the journey that counts. Enjoy it!

What are some ways you’ve fed your muse?

 

 

 

An epic case drops from thin air and a ticking clock begins. Can U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez stop the sinister creator before it’s too late and a death occurs?

A thrilling new standalone mystery from award -winning author Autumn Jordon with a totally shocking conclusion.

  LOVED BY DARKNESS RELEASES TOMORROW MAY 8TH!

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

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It’s All In The Past

I love a good action movie where it’s all about the ticking bomb, once in a while. However if the screen writer adds a character that touches my heart, the movie goes from good to great! When that happens, I can’t stop talking about it. I tell my family and friends. I chat about it at work and on social media. And I easily lay down my hard-earned cash for the next movie. Readers have the same reaction after finishing a book that left them feeling something for someone, the character.  And word of mouth is still the best advertisement. It will get you more returns than a pricey Bookbub ad and cost you nothing but the sweat and blood and tears you poured into your story. So how do we create characters that are memorable?

Most new writers think of physical traits when we speak of creating a character, but art is so much more. Certainly, features, abilities, or disabilities can shape a character’s perception of themselves or how the world sees them, so yes, picture them but go beyond the physical. Use the physical to create flaws for your character and thus emotional ties with your reader.  Just a few film examples that you might be familiar with which use physical attributes to create memorable characters are Princess Fiona (Shrek), Erin Brockowich, Raymond Babbitt {Rain Man} or Sherlock Holmes.

The basic tool we use to dig deep into our characters psyche is GMC. We’re all familiar with the acronym, right? Goals, motivation and conflict. Every character, including secondary characters, need to have goals. Behind the answer of what they’re goals are comes the question why is that their goal? What impels them to get up every morning and work toward that objective? Then why has that particular incident in their life affected them so deeply that years later they’re not going to let anyone stop them from reaching their objective? What is the emotional seed?

There is that word again. EMOTION.

Then comes conflict. Think of your own conflicts. Unless you live in a solitary world you have them. We have issues with the world events.  We have conflicts with others; Husband, wife, children, mother, father, the cousin who lives a state away and still seems to meddle in your life, a co-worker who rubs you the wrong way and pets. Don’t forget our furry or feathered friends. At times we have conflict with ourselves. Time can add conflict. Conflict comes in all sizes and most days from every direction. Do you recall days like that? Remember the raw emotion that coursed through you because of conflict. Hit your character with a ton of conflict.

The way your character reacts to conflict is part of their temperament. You can show their reaction to tough situations as a strength or a flaw. Characters need both. We all have both. Readers identify with characters through them and the emotional baggage that comes with them. Make a list of your character’s flaws and strengths. How did they come about? How can you show them? How can they show growth?

When I start a new story, I usually have glimpse of the opening scene in my mind. I have no clue where the story line is going to take me. The first thing I do is search for pictures of my characters. I know them as soon as I see them. (CRAZY RIGHT?) Then I start asking them questions about themselves. Out those answers, story ideas will begin to take shape.

My advice: Dig deep into your characters’ pasts even though not a word of it might make it on to the page. You need to know them.

How do you develop your characters? Please share your process.

 

 

                                                                                       LOVED BY DARKNESS coming MAY 8th, 2018

                                                                                                                Pre-0rder now!

I FEEL THE TEARS

With the close of the Winter Writing Fest only days away, the Ruby sisters can feel the spirits of those who’ve participate dwindling. We feel the same. We love the company and the enthusiasm that our writer friends bring with them.

Like the Olympians Ruby Vivi referred to in her blog on February 9th, we worked and we achieved our goals —some even blasted them. And now, also like those champions, we need to carry on. We need to set the bar a little bit higher in the next few months and afterwards we need to continue to strive to improve our craft. Titleholders always set goals, both personally and professionally.

As we have stated on this blog many times and in numerous ways, everyone’s dreams are distinct and everyone’s life circumstances are special. We should NEVER compare ourselves to another, especially during times that our personal lives are in an uproar.

You’ve proven writing is your passion. Nurture it. Study. Read. Set weekly word goals. Absorb industry news. Network with other writers. And don’t be afraid to put your words out there for feedback.

Like last year, the chat room will remain open for those writers who would like to continue to work together. There are a great bunch of writers participating year-round. Join in anytime.   

 

   

I WORKED ON MY MIDDLE IN DIAPERS

We’re three weeks into the Winter Writing Fest, and whether you’re writing, plotting, or editing your middle could be a bit dull.
Let me tell you what I know about story middles.

They can be expanded into a huge massive saga and not hold one ounce of story muscle. Or, they can be elusive and cause the author to stare at the muse-sucking blinking cursor. Yet, they can be so wonderfully written and with every page the reader is drawn into the world you’ve built, and slowly, they become emotionally attached to your characters.

Writing the middle can suck, if you don’t know where your story is headed.

I’m a devoted panster. (Right hand held over my heart) I have been since the day I picked up a Crayola crayon and put it to my Bugs Bunny coloring book, my mother’s grocery list, the wall. (Yes, Bill Gates and I were wearing cloth diapers then.) I made up my stories as I went, drawing pictures and telling my story to my younger sister, who couldn’t talk yet. I’ve tried over the last ten years to get serious about plotting ahead, but in the end my story goes off in a totally new direction (damn characters). However, I have learned I MUST know several things before I start a new story, which helps my middle from becoming boring. What are they? Read on to learn how things work in my mind.

First, I need to learn my characters’ dreams and what drives them to go after those aspirations. (Everyone fantasies about obtaining something but not everyone is willing to do the hard work to succeed.) In order to learn my character’s most intimate desire, I dig deep into my hero’s, heroine’s and my antagonist’s hearts.

Why the villain’s? Because his/her desires are going to conflict with the hero’s or heroine’s dreams.

Okay, it’s a recognized fact that everyone wants love. So, if you said love, you’re grabbing the easy answer. You need to dig deeper. What kind of love and love for what. Love has many forms. The heart-wrenching or warming love between to people. They love for something bigger than any of us: God, nature, the universe. The love of money or power over others. Or the love we feel when we do something; helping someone, drugs, alcohol, creating something, achieving something no one else ever has, or the moment your character sees life slip away. What does you character love? And what are they willing to do to feel that love.

Next, I know the inciting incident that will set my hero on a path. That is my beginning. I’m going to use the movie Apollo 13, since many have seen the movie, as an example. (This where your character is an astronaut in the line-up for a flight into space in years to come. Then the guy in front of him, breaks his leg and suddenly it’s his time. His love is to walk on the moon just became real.)

Then, I decide what is going to make my hero change. (An explosion causes severe damage to Apollo.) At this point Jim Lovell, realizes what is more important to him then walking on the moon; His wife, children, family and friends back on Earth. And the lives of his crew.
Finally, I decide how my story ends. Of course, I always want an HEA. If you haven’t seen Apollo 13, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Okay, now how do you keep your middle from sagging. ( I’m keeping it simple.)

In the first half of your middle, you write scenes that will show case your heroines trek to achieve his dreams. He will do anything to feel that power of love. He will also need to come up against challenges and make decisions that don’t sit well with him, because they go against his moral compass. He does them out of selfish love. Jim Lovell makes such a decision concerning his best friend during training.

In the second half of your middle, you’ll write scenes showcasing how heroic your hero really is. He now has a clear vision of who he truly is and what he really wants. You, the writer, should throw everything you can at him to make him fail. The universe threw everything at Jim Lovell, his crew, and the men and women of NASA, until the final black moment. (Again no spoiler.)

From there, it’s happy ending for me.

Okay recap:
1) Know your characters.
2) What is the incident that starts it all?
3) Write scenes where hero works toward achieving his dream. Make it a roller coaster ride, with scenes of achievement and scenes of conflict and defeat.)
4) What is the incident that occurs which makes your hero realize his true self, or love?
5) Write scenes showing him/her as the hero working toward his goal. Challenge him until the moment he triumphs. Write lines that personifies your character. (“Go ahead. Make my day.” No need to tell you who spoke that line.)
6) Write a satisfying ending.

Much of what I’ve said here today comes from the teachings of Michael Hauge. I took his workshop last year and it was like a light bulb went off over my head. I recapped my workshop notes here:

What I Learned From Michael Hauge – PART 1

And here:

What I Learned From Michael Hauge Part 2

Hope Ramsey also did a wonderful blog on middles here:
http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/writing-to-the-middle/

 

I think it’s so important for writers at any level to read different author’s POV on craft subjects. What clicks for me, might not click for you. And reading about craft helps us better our skills. So, has anyone learned about middles from another source?

 

 

I HATE MY DAY JOB

Virtually every day in the WWF chatroom a writer kicks the cyber garbage can as they exit the room.  Why? Because they need to stop working on their WIP and head to the job that pays their bills. I empathize with them, because for more than a decade I felt the same exact way. I hated stopping in mid-page and heading out the door.

I know when I started out that I had this vision of spending my days staying home, working at my passion. I’d be there to greet the kids when they arrived home from school. The odor of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would fill the air, and blue birds would sing from my window sill. I worked every free second I had learning craft and getting the stories out of my head onto the page in order to make my dream come true.  I was stressed a lot. That dream, and the stress it caused, didn’t go away easily. In fact, I still feel it clinging on in the back of my mind.

The reality of it is, while writing is our passion, writing for publication in order to make your babies your main source of income is damn hard work. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. The term ‘Starving artist’ doesn’t just refer to painters, sculptors and musicians.

While I hosted my dream, I met other writers who I deemed successful and thought lived my fantasy. I learned later that they worked other jobs, and they still do.  I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress, which, if you haven’t heard, is harmful to your health, if I had listened closer to them.  This business is tough, and even if you have a great talent, getting discovered by readers gets harder every single day.  It was that way a decade ago, and it remains a fact today.

I didn’t write this blog to discourage anyone. In fact, I hope to encourage you, and to help you relieve the stress you might feel.  Anyone could be writing the next big seller. Anyone! A first-time published author or someone who has written fifty books. So please continue putting your hearts into your work.

Enjoy your second job. Second job, meaning the one that pays the bills. It provides friends as well as financial security. (Less stress.) It also allows you to interact with other people. Story ideas come from our interactions with others. Our characters become real because we listen (dialogue) and watch (body language) others. We place our readers in convincing settings because we’ve actually felt the sun or rain on our faces.

Don’t worry what other writers are doing. Do what is right for you and your family. So it takes you longer to write a book. Your book could be the next big thing and for years you could live off the royalties until…  The world embraces the next great thing.

Stop kicking the cyber garbage can and enjoy your passions.

BTW, this author, after years working as a corporate secretary and raising four children while writing her first seven published works, stills works part-time and spends most of her wages on her grandchildren.   

READER CONNECTION: USING MEMORIES

Emma didn’t know what woke her— the excitement of the celebration to come in a few hours or the moonlight streams shimmering through the window, but something had.  Her heart, like an Olympic sprinter’s, drummed against her narrow chest as she brushed her bangs from her eyes.

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The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: LOL. Thank you, Darynda! 😀 And yeah, that buzzer is a tricksy beast!
  • Darynda Jones: I AM SO PROUD OF YOU, VIVI!!! That was the coolest thing ever, seeing a sister up there kicking ass...
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: It’s certainly tricky, but I did indeed have a blast! 🙂
  • Kate Parker: Wow, Vivi, it sounds like you had a blast. congrats on doing so well. That buzzer sounds like a demon.
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Thank you, Anna! I tried to give ’em a fight to the finish! 🙂

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