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Writing Classes

I recently finished an online Mystery writing class that was very helpful. It helped me structure my wip and come up with a very workable outline. By chance, and I really don’t believe in chance, I am fairly sure I was meant to see a message from Candace Havens about a class she was offering. It is her Fast Draft and Revision Hell classes. It is meant to help you finish your wip by the end of the year. Now that I had an outline. This was exactly what I needed.

For a nominal fee she sends you the rules. Some of the rules are no editing, no going back, just go forward, have to post your results daily, aim for 20 pages a day for 14 days, and no whining. She said that if you whine, she will give you one warning. You do it again and you are out.

I have committed to writing for two hours a day. One hour in the morning, I now get up at 5:30 AM and another hour in the evening. I want to get to the point where I can write 10 pages in the AM and another 10 in the PM. Today was my first day and I didn’t quite make it. I wrote 9 pages. Candace said to give yourself some grace for the first few days because it is hard to produce that much but if you keep at it, it becomes easier. I trust her. She is a busy lady and this is how she does it.

So if you check my word meter you will see that I updated it today. I will update it each day. I will try to blog a couple times a week. One will be an update on my progress with this class the second will be my alphabet tips.

Please feel free to cheer me on. If this sounds like something you would be interested, google Candace Havens and check it out.

Gotta think about heading to bed. 5:30 comes awful fast.

Happy writing,

Virginia

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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Tuesday Tip

What comes first the characters or the plot? I’m not sure it matters. If you are inspired by a character, go with developing that character. What are the goal, motivation, and conflict? After you determine that start asking story questions and the plot will develop.

If you have a story idea that comes to you first, play with the idea for a while until you start seeing a plot. Start asking questions about who might be involved in that kind of story? Start adding characters to the story and developing them.

Either way that you enter into a story, I think the key to developing it is to ask questions and keep asking questions until you figure out enough to write the story. Unless you are a writer who has to have a complete outline. Answer enough questions to get into the story and go with it.

How do you start out? Do you start with characters or plot?

Virginia

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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Author Interview – Barbara Barrett

 

I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to my friend Barbara. We both belonged to the same local RWA chapter several years ago. She now lives in Florida but happened to come back to Iowa to spend her summer. We had lunch and a chance to catch up and she told me about her first sale. I truly find the writing process interesting. I hope you enjoy this interview and maybe pick up something that will help with your writing process.

VirginiaWhere are you from?

Barbara – I was born in Burlington, Iowa, which just happens to be the setting of my debut novel, ‘The Sleepover Clause.’ After graduating from the University of Iowa, I moved to the Des Moines, Iowa area, where I’ve lived ever since. Three and a half years ago, I became a resident of Florida and now live there half the year (guess which half) just outside the Disney Parks in the shadow of the Mouse.

VirginiaHow long have you been writing?

Barbara – Much too long to admit, considering this is my debut novel. I guess I’m the new poster girl for “persistence pays off.”

VirginiaWhat do you write?

Barbara – I write contemporary romance fiction right now. My goal is to expand my writing efforts to include cozy mysteries and maybe even tackle a screenplay. I stay in touch with both through my membership in the RWA Kiss of Death and Scriptscene chapters. (I’m also a member of the Spacecoast Authors of Romance chapter.)

VirginiaTell us a little about your publisher and agent.

Barbara – Crimson Romance, an imprint of F+W Media, Adams Media, is a new epublisher focused on romance fiction. The first releases came out in early June, with several more added each Monday. They provide five categories: Contemporary Romance (my area), Historical Romance, Romantic Suspence, Paranormal Romance, and Spicy Romance. Their website can be found at http://www.crimsonromance.com.

I don’t have an agent.

VirginiaI know that last time we talked you’d sold your first book. A little bird told me you might have some more news?

Barbara – I wish I could tell you, but since it’s not a done deal, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

VirginiaDo you outline?

Barbara – Sort of. Whoever invented the Table function on Word made writing so much easier for me to lay out my plot line and get a sense of sequencing. I start out with each entry being just the main purpose of the chapter and/or what I want to take place in that chapter. Although I still tend to overwrite the first draft, that method helps eliminate scenes that don’t progress the story. Later, I add columns for the POV character, scenes, time, time elapsed from the beginning. Eventually, I add page numbers.

VirginiaAbout how long does it take to finish a book?

Barbara – Much too long! Easily two years thus far. Now that I’m being published, I will need to step up the pace.

VirginiaWhat is your writing day like?

Barbara – I tend to write best from mid-morning to late afternoon and during the early evening. I try to write sequentially as much as possible for continuity’s sake, but that doesn’t preclude me from jumping around, especially when I’m doing revisions. I learned from this first publishing experience that in the future I have to do a much better job keeping notes as I go along for later reference. As I can work it in, I want to learn how to use either Scrivener or OneNote to do that.

VirginiaCan you tell us how you found a publisher and/or agent?

Barbara – I wish I could recall whose note I saw on which loop that spread the word about the new epub, Crimson Romance, that was seeking submissions so that I could give them credit, but that information escapes me now. I went to the Adams Media website and read the Call for Submissions there.

Virginia When will your book come out?

Barbara – Monday, September 3

VirginiaWhat are you working on next?

Barbara – I’m currently working on the second book of a trilogy about a residential development here in Iowa. The H/H in the first book are two architects who have been assigned to come up with the design plan. This second book is about the developer and the general contractor. The final will involve the marketing and interior design end.

VirginiaDo you have some words of wisdom for the rest of us?

Barbara – Nothing very original – be persistent and believe in yourself. Keep writing and improving your craft. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Write about what appeals to you most; writing about what you know also helps, but you can always research that part.

 

Thanks Barbara, hope you have a great book launch. Now everyone let’s go check it out.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Author Interviews

 

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Lois Greiman – Guest Blog

My guest blogger this week is Lois Greiman. Lois lives a bit further north than me in Minnesota on a small farm. She sold her first book to Avon in 1992. Since then she has sold 22 romances, six mysteries, and the first in her ‘Witches of Mayfair’ series. I am a huge fan of her Chrissy McMullen mysteries and am thrilled to find out she has a new one coming out. Lois has been kind enough to blog about her writing process. Writing is an interesting creative outlet. We all end up with completed projects, eventually but when asked how they do it, they all have their own process.  Lois has been kind enough to share hers today.

Soldering on…and ummm free jewelry!

Okay, I’ll admit it. Writing is difficult. If someone ever tells you, “Hey, you should just write a book, cuz’ that’s easy money,” you pop them in the eye for me, will you? Because seriously, getting published may be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. It took me five years and a couple hundred rejections to sell my first novel. That’s right, a couple HUNDRED. And I don’t take rejection well. It’s not like I go looking for it or anything. But here’s what I’ve learned: Publishers don’t generally come knocking on your door looking for that diamond in the rough (you) who has written that potential best seller (your half written manuscript).

So what’s my secret for writing thirty plus novels? It’s pretty simple really. It’s called the Put Your Butt In The Chair Method. Okay, maybe it’s not quite as simple as it sounds, because, yes, I do realize that there are a lot of things that can be done while your butt is in the proper location. Solitaire, for instance. I know several authors who are addicted to Solitaire. Email. Email’s a bugger. In fact, the entire social network thing can be fatal to that ever-elusive muse. That’s why I don’t believe in her. That’s right. I said it, I don’t believe in the Muse. What I do believe in is butts…and chairs…and butts in chairs. So here’s what I do. Every morning after feeding the horses and going for a run, I brew myself a little tea, chant, “I don’t suck, I don’t suck, I don’t suck,” four hundred times, and settle into my work chair. That’s it. That’s the entirety of my secret. I sit down, I put my fingers on the keyboard and I write something.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t write anything good. Nothing noteworthy or hopeful or even remotely creative. But I do write. I have a goal for the day and I meet my goal. Generally, it’s 10 pages of rough draft every twenty-four hours. And when I say rough draft, don’t underestimate the roughness. That first attempt is barely legible. If someone read it, I would, in fact, have to put a gun in my ear. But day after day and week after week it gets written. I don’t edit. I don’t second guess. I don’t whine. (Okay, that last one was a total lie. I whine all the time. But nobody listens anymore so it hardly even counts.) What I do is soldier on…through the terrible dialogue that makes me want to weep for my lack of creativity, past the nonexistent scenery, over the plot holes as big as battle ships…on. And voila, after about forty days of this dogged but totally uninspired soldiering I am rewarded with 400 pages of …drivel. I mean seriously, did you expect it to be good? No. It’s awful. Worse than awful. It’s nonsensical. Because without fail on page 77 I discovered that I hated my hero’s name. Who ever thought the male lead should be called Kismet? I’m obviously deranged. But do I go back and name him something manly and dynamic like…King George? I do not. Do I add the gun on page 83 so that Kismet can shootLeonon page 122. I do not. What do I do? I soldier on. Until finally, after approximately two months of misery I have the backbone of a book. Granted, it’s a weak backbone. It has scoliosis and rickets and some osteoporosis, but it’s still a backbone and once I have that, well…I can move on. I can add flesh and muscle and pigment. I can shape and hone. I can change my poor misbegotten hero’s name for God’s sake.

So there it is. I wish I had something more hopeful for you. I wish I could tell you that if you try these three simple but magical steps the muse will appear in a puff of fairy dust, but that’s not the way it works. Not for me anyway. And if it works for someone else…well, sometimes I’m willing to pop people in the eye on my own behalf.

To celebrate the online release of Uncorked, (http://www.amazon.com/Uncorked-Chrissy-McMullen-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B006QXOAB0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326404170&sr=1-1) I’m giving away an adorable heart necklace and earrings. If you’d like to throw your name in the hat, please send an email with the word Valentine in the subject line to lgreiman@earthlink.net.

Now…what are you waiting for? Go forth and read!

http://www.loisgreiman.com

http://www.facebook.com/lois.greiman

http://www.facebook.com/ChrissyMcMullenMysteries

follow loisgreiman on twitter

Thanks Lois, look forward to reading ‘Uncorked’.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Guest Blogger, Writing a Novel

 

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4th of July 2011

I have been counting down the days to another long weekend. It seems that there are too few of them.  I am planning to work on characters for my
current work in progress. Trying to get to the point where I can actually start writing when I have my week of vacation starting on the 9th.

When I write, I like to have a bit of an outline without filling in all the gaps. Not knowing everything seems to make the whole process more fun but I do need to have some direction. Developing characters is one way I work on developing my story. It’s more than deciding what they look like. It’s about discovering who they are and what they would do. Creating a past that will help determine the character’s present and future. It’s like meeting someone new and sitting down for a chat but this character isn’t afraid to tell me everything. The more I know, the more I can predict how this character would react if dropped into different situations.  Someone who has a fear of the dark is not going to wander off into the woods alone at night unless they have no other choice. If the reader is aware of the character’s fear it makes them want to stay with the story to find out what happens.

It’s easy to make the protagonist too much like yourself. You know what you would do in a given situation but the character is not you so you have to create someone who would react differently than you would as the writer. You have to decide what the character wants most, what they are most afraid of, what their goals are, and what motivates them. Do they have flaws and what are they? What is their background? Where do they come from? What have they done? What has happened to them to make them into the person they are now?

Because your story has to have more than one person you have to populate your book with several characters. Some are major characters, some minor, and some who just walk-on to the story. It is also easy to create a flawless character. Everyone has flaws.

No one likes a perfect person, they’re not interesting. To shake it up a little, even your good guy has to have some faults. The same can be said for
the antagonist, he can’t be all evil. He has to have something good about him; otherwise you end up working with paper doll characters. They need a little more depth. By creating fully developed characters you make them three dimensional. You make them people want to read about and spend some time with.

 

I always turn to books as references while writing. The books I am using currently to develop my characters are ‘Plot versus Character’
by Jeff Gerke and ’45 Master Characters – Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters’ by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I plan to write a review about my reference books at another time so won’t go into detail for now. Besides the weekend is wasting away as I blog so need to get back to my project.

 

Currently I am reading ‘A Murder is Announced’ by Agatha Christy. It is a book my Sister’s in Crime group is reading to discuss at our July Meeting. Now that I am further into the book, I am enjoying immersing myself into that time period. If you haven’t read Agatha’s novels, it’s never
too late to start. Would love to hear about your writing process, I am truly interested in that aspect of writing. How do you create your characters? Do you use detailed information or do you just have them fully developed in your head?  What are you reading right now? Feel free to comment and share. There is nothing better than visiting with writers and readers.

Hope you all have a happy and safe 4th. Spend some of it outside away from your computer. As writers you can’t expect to write about life unless you experience some of it.

Virginia

 
 

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