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Category Archives: Writing a Novel

Writing, Reading, and Work

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Post Killer Nashville Conference: I left the conference bursting with writing motivation. Couldn’t wait to get started with my new project and then life slams a pie in my face. We had 5 hours of overtime last week. We have 10 hours of overtime this week. I work four ten hour days to have a three day weekend every week. I do this to allow me time to write. Today it didn’t happen.

Since I can work from home sometimes, I decided it was bad enough I had to work on my day off and there was no way I was going into the office to do it, so I got up at 5:30 and was sitting in front of the computer at 6:15 in my pajamas. I thought I would work until 12:15 and then only have to work one extra hour a day to finish my overtime before the weekend. Then I got to thinking that next weekend is a holiday weekend and I really didn’t want to work late on Friday, so I decided to work an extra hour. Well per company guidelines, if you work longer than 6 hours, you have to take a lunch. I ran down to the kitchen to see what I could fix fast. Looked like I was down to peanut butter and jelly but the bread was a little iffy, even if I toasted it. So I ran back upstairs, pulled off my pajama bottoms, put on the shorts I’d worn the day before, a bra, and my pajama top – no need to put on clean clothes to run to the fast food drive through and besides I couldn’t fit in a shower and lunch too. Ran a brush through my hair and took off for the drive thru. Hurried home, ate my lunch at my desk while I continued working.

But then, I got stuck on a piece of work that took me 15 minutes into the next hour. I figured I might as well work another hour and then only have 2 hours left to finish before Friday. So my plan to be done by 12:15 PM stretched out to 2:45 PM. When I was done working for the day I hurried up and showered and dressed. This is why I could not work from home every day. I felt like a sloth.

I really wanted to start either working on my new project or edit a little of my manuscript I finished before my trip to Nashville but I couldn’t with a good conscience sit down to write until I made a trip to the grocery store. I then remembered that I would be working late a couple nights this week and for my husband’s sake decided to make him a nice dinner tonight because who knew what the rest of the week would hold. 11 hour days do sometimes wear me out.  I hurried to the store, came home, stuck a ham in the oven, and then turned on Netflix. I know, I could have sat down and started working on my book but I really needed a little break.

By the time I finished watching my show, it was time to finish fixing dinner. We ate and then I did the dishes and then I remembered I wanted to get my weekly blog post out so here I am. It is now going on 9:00 PM and I have no energy left to write. But I will. Since I only have two eleven hour days and two ten hour days this week, I am sure I will get something done. If not, I have saved my weekend. Since it is a holiday weekend, I am fairly sure I will have all three days free, rarely does the company allow us to work overtime on a holiday because it is time and a half. My only fear is that we will have ten hours of overtime again next week and I will then lose one of the following weekend days to overtime but I won’t know until Thursday. I will think positive thoughts that somehow the overtime will vanish and I can reclaim my days off.

In the meantime, I have been developing my new project a little. Writing notes down about the characters and plot ideas. Here are the things I know. I want to develop a mystery series. I want my protagonist to be a female private eye. I haven’t decided on her name yet but here is the background so far. Her mother died when she was a child. Her father raised her alone. He was a cop, so she followed in his footsteps. He died while on duty and she questions his death. She questioned the wrong person and lost her job so now she is a private investigator. This idea didn’t come from a headline in the paper or a television story, it was just an idea that I’ve been mulling around for a while.

My first story will be about a missing teenage girl. There will be a continuing thread about her investigating her father’s death. I plan to use the title – Finding Faith. The missing teen is named Faith and I hope to use it for both her name and my protagonist finding faith in herself, somehow. It is a working title. Publishers don’t often use the working title but for now, I like it.

Here is one of my research books I will be using, one of many. Robert Randisi edited this book and I think he also founded The Private Eye Writers of America. I sat with him and his wife at the Saturday night awards dinner at Killer Nashville. He is a very prolific writer. He has written a book a month since the 1980’s. To be honest, he looked really tired that night. Even if I could, I don’t think I would want to push myself that hard but if it’s working for him, I can’t knock it.

Private eye3

And here is what I am currently reading. Some how I do find time to read. I think it’s essential to any writer to read. While work and everyday life seem to suck the energy from me, reading helps motivate me and Julia Keller is one of my favorites. I think this is her fourth. It is set in West Virginia, her protagonist is a prosecutor who isn’t trying to convict someone, she’s trying to convict the right someone so she conducts her own investigations while going to trial. I don’t know that much about the law and whether every thing is correct but I do know her books are a pleasure to read.

Last RAgged Breath

If you write, how do you begin a project? Do you start with the plot or the characters? Feel free to share your methods. I am truly interested in the craft of writing. I think it is amazing that someone can come up with a story out of no where and everyone seems to have their own system.  I think it can take a writer a long time to find what works. I also think it changes. Each project is a little different and what worked for one book may not work for the next.

Well it’s bedtime and tomorrow I have to do it all over again.

Until next time, keep writing and reading.

 

Unlock Your Dreams With a Little Help From Your Friends

Turn Key Solutions_1

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” – Anais Nin

I have jumped back into my writer’s groups this year. Yesterday was the first meeting of 2015 for both Iowa Romance Novelists and Sisters in Crime. Both meetings involved setting goals and preparing ourselves for the journey of completing a new project this year.

I am Co-President of IRN and so will be very involved with that group this year. Our theme for the year is Finish the Book. We had a presentation that helped us identify the different things that may be holding us back. Way too many to list here but I thought it was interesting that even the published authors struggled with many of the things that are keeping the rest of us back.

Each month we will focus on a different aspect of getting our book done. We also have a new reward system set up. We have a list of goals to choose from. We choose only the ones we want to focus on. They have to be a little stretch and they involve several categories from reading to attending classes, conferences, workshops, writing so many minutes a day or pages per day, critiquing, and many others. If we accomplish 4 of the 12 listed goals, we will get a $10 Amazon card, 6, $25, and 10 $50. It looks to be an interesting year.

My Sisters in Crime group started out the year with Creating a Dream Vision. Our new President Jordyn Meryl brought all the supplies and members brought plenty of enthusiasm and magazines. Jordyn also brought each of us a VIsion journal. We spent the afternoon cutting out inspirational images to paste onto our Dream board. It could be just to help you with your life dreams or for your manuscript. I chose to start making it for my current wip. Will maybe post a photo of it when I get done.

All in all it was very inspirational. Today I have managed to make my list of characters and start my book bible. That is the binder I use for my project. I will continue to do character sketches this week and aim to have them done by next Friday. I printed off photos of my characters for both my vision board and my book bible. Plan to hang my vision board next to my desk. By end of month, I plan to have my outline complete so that I can start writing with my online campers, a closed writers group at Perley Station Colony Writers in February. I plan to set a weekly writing goal and get the first draft done as quickly as possible. I don’t plan to have it totally done by the end of February though. Iwill give myself at least a couple months for the first draft.

Have you started any new projects for 2015? Do you have any pre-writing rituals that you use before you start writing?

Are you struggling along on your own and would like some help? If you are in the Central Iowa area, IRN and SINC are always looking for new members. IRN meets the third Saturday of each month at the Urbandale Library this year from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. We have monthly programs, critique, and we are there to help and support. SINC meets the same day each month at Smokey Row Coffee Shop from 3:00 to 5:00. You can visit but if you are interested in becoming a member, you will need to join the National Organizations as well as the local chapter. Writing can be lonely, we can help.

Until next time,

Keep writing!

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Novel Writing, Writing a Novel

 

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Bite by Bite…

Bite by Bite…

BIte by Bite

 

What can I say. I abandoned my blog. I have not been out here in so long that I figured when I came back it would be dead. I was wrong. People have continued to check in and I feel bad that I haven’t had anything new for them to see.

I have not given up writing. I continue to work on different projects and this is the year that I will complete a novel and attempt for some kind of publication.

I did not mean to abandon my blog but I have been dealing with some scary life issues. My close friends know what has been going on this past year but as you can see, I survived.

I plan to blog as often as possible. I would like to start out posting something once a week and then see how it goes. Call me the come back kid. What can I say, I missed my blog.

The Bite by Bite theme describes my goal this year. I only have one goal and that is to complete a novel length project. Since writing a novel is such a huge task, just thinking about it can be overwhelming. I am fine until I think of all the work and to be honest it scares me.

Over the years I have heard other writers describe the writing process. They say it is the same as eating an elephant. It can seem impossible. But if you do it one bite at a time, it becomes possible. I happened to find this calendar and journal on Amazon with the elephant on front. It was developed by a writer and has goal setting information for how to break down your goal into smaller goals that are easier to achieve. It helps you feel good about the process along the way instead of waiting for that big reward at the end of the year.

I am not going to make blogging one of my goals but I will post each week about my journey.

Just so you won’t be too bored, I will post about what is going on with the different writing groups that I belong to and also some more author interviews and book reviews. I have been reading a lot this past year and I have met some very interesting authors. I was fortunate enough to attend a few writer’s conferences and would love to share whatever might be of interest.

My first bite for my goal this month is to finish my character sketches and my outline for my current project. It is a romantic comedy with a few characters who won’t seem to go away. I decided the only way I will get any relief is to tell their story. Next month I plan to participate in an on-line writer’s camp with a closed group I belong to called –  The Perley Writer’s Colony. We have these camps several times a year. Unlike Nanowrimo, we don’t have to write 50,000 words. We each set our own goal and then post our progress on our Facebook group page. We can ask questions, work out things when we get stuck and motivate each other to reach our individual goals.

I love to write and I am also interested in the writing process. Since I am in the pre-writing stage of my project, I would love to hear from you. Do you pre-write or do you just sit down and start typing? How do you start a new project? Do you outline? Do you know your characters and how well?

If you are published and would like a featured interview, please let me know. I am always happy to help out a fellow writer.

Keep reading and writing – until next week.

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in What's Happening, Writing a Novel

 

How To Get the Most Out of a Writer’s Conference II

Now that you have set your goals and decided on which conference to attend, You need to get your hands on a brochure. Most conferences will have this information on their website. It will list all of the workshops and programs.

  • Keep your goals in mind and choose workshops that are relevant.
  • Most are Q&A sessions or panels but some conferences will have hourly workshops to help with craft or the business of writing. Should be able to find something for whatever level you are with your work.
  • If you plan to pitch to an agent or editor, try to attend their panels to get to know them better before you meet.
  • At night they sometimes have sessions that are a little more laid back. I attended ‘Love is Murder’ one year and got to listen to true ghost stories from the authors. One of them was Charlaine Harris. Now how awesome is that?
  • If you catch yourself wanting to attend sessions that are scheduled at the same time – pick the one you want to see the most and purchase the recorded sessions, if they are available. Most conferences have started doing this.

Next post we’ll get into what to do before your one-on-one session with an editor or agent.

Hope you are working on something – happy writing.

Virginia

 

 

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Nanowrimo

Yesterday I attended the David Corbett workshop and it was motivating. We had lots of new faces who came from long distance to attend. The furthest was Chicago but also, Kansas City, Iowa City, Omaha, and northern Iowa. David based his workshop off of his current non-fiction book – The Art of Character. He had some great insights on using your feelings and emotions to create characters who are more than flat paper dolls you move around in your scenes. For more in depth details, do check out his book.  

The workshop was perfect timing. I always leave inspired to write and with this being November and Nanowrimo, that is exactly what I intend to do.

I am working on a romantic comedy that I have had half finished for a while. The characters keep calling to me so finally decided if I am ever going to be able to write anything else, I have to finish this project.

We have a very active Nano group here in central Iowa. We have write-ins every day in both the Des Moines and Ames area. I plan to attend this afternoon in West Des Moines to set my word count on fire. Maybe if I can get that flame hot enough, I can put – The End to this project.

Just so you know. Amy Tan will be in Des Moines on the 11th as the final author for the 2013 AVID program. She will be at Hoyt Sherman Place at 3:00. Hope to see you there.

Have a great week writing.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Writing a Novel

 

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David Corbett Workshop

 

My local chapter of RWA and Sisters in Crime are presenting one day workshop next Saturday in the Des Moines area. If you are close, you don’t want to miss this one.

Join Iowa Romance Novelists for a one day workshop with Edgar-nominated author, David Corbett as he presents: The Art Of Character.

Date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10am – 4pm

Place: Des Moines Area Community College, Building 7, Ankeny, Iowa.

Cost: $40 – College Students, IRN members, SINC-Iowa members

$60 – groups of 10+

$75 – All Others

         (LUNCH IS INCLUDED!!)

Description:  In this workshop, David Corbett will guide students through the five stages of characterization he details in his critically acclaimed new book,The Art of Character. With the goal of helping students apply these techniques specifically to their own works in progress, he will lead the class through exercises that:

* Explore unique and compelling ways to conceive the character from the outset.

* Enrich the character through examination of one’s own personal experience.

* Deepen the portrayal by exploring the five essential qualities of compelling
characterization.

* Create character biographies that rely on dramatic scenes, not descriptive
information.

* Explore the interaction of the character and her role in the story, especially the

protagonist.

* Develop techniques for rendering the character on the page: point of view, voice,

dialog.

Register http://iowaromancenovelists.org/workshops or, for more information, email: iowaromnovel@yahoo.com

“Corbett has been quietly crafting some of the best novels of the new millennium. Human characters and tragic consequences. Corbett is one of the giants of tomorrow.”

   —Bookspot Central

For more information about David Corbett, check out his website at:
http://www.davidcorbett.com/

 
 

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Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

I decided to start something new this week. I posted about something that happened several years ago on fb and it seemed to get a lot of attention. Several years ago when I my kids were younger we were at the state fair. We wandered into this house up on the hill next to the antique barn. It was full of old photos. I saw one photo that caught my eye. By the clothes, I am guessing it was from the 1920’s. It was a crowd standing in the grand concourse and in the middle of the crowd was a woman who looked just like me. I got goosebumps. I tried to get a copy of the photo but they refused. I thought at the time there might be a story there but it was before I took myself seriously as a writer. So it has been simmering in the back of my brain for quite a while now. For whatever reason it came forward this week and a story started unfolding.

I have wanted to write stories before but this is the first time I have ever felt like I have to tell this story. My friend Tamara Siler Jones who has three books out knew exactly what I was talking about and she got almost as excited about it as I am.  It is all fiction but it feels like something only I can tell. So I have set some goals. I want to get it developed as fast as I can and pump out a first draft in say 60 days.

This story started with that little seed. I gave it time to germinate into something more and now I think it is ready to tell.

Where do your ideas come from? Do you start with the plot or a character?

Today I met both Tammy Jones and Shirley Damsgaard at a book signing at Beaverdale Books. Shirley has a new Jess McConkey book – The Widows of Braxton County that came out this week. Afterwards we had a late lunch and time to talk about our writing projects. Shirley left a few signed copies at the bookstore so if you want an autographed copy, stop by.

Hope your writing is moving forward.

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Writing a Novel

 

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