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Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Writer’s Resolution


To write. That’s it. My 2011 writer’s resolution is to simply write. No long, drawn out master plans broken down into months and WIPs. I’m not pigeonholing myself this year. My goal is to write every day for 365 and 1/4th days straight. I’ll shoot for 100 words or more a day, but if I don’t make it here and there I’m not going to sweat it.

I have one book finished and ready for final edits, one complete outline for a second, and the bones of a third. If I finish them all before midnight on 12/31/11, great! If I don’t, oh well. With any luck I’ll still be around on 2012 to finish them.

If I sign with an agent, Hell Yeah! If I don’t, I’ll still write. It’s what I do.

Happy New Year everyone!
Ann

2010 New Year’s Resolutions Revisited.




I’ll admit it makes for a redundant post, but to move forward with 2011’s resolutions I had to take a look back to 2010. I may not have finished everything on the overachieving list, but I can honestly say I’m proud of what I did accomplished.

Dear Me,
2009 was a year to remember for you. Two written novels, one contracted, one very close, three short stories entered into paying contests, a webpage, a BlogSpot, and 165 Facebook friends. For someone with mediocre computer skills, you did well. 2009 was a year of firsts. 2010 will be the year of great accomplishments.

You’ve proven yourself a writer. No more hiding in the closet and only writing when everything in your busy life is complete. This year writing moves to the front seat of your life. This will be the year you prepare to make the leap from hobby to career.

Don’t worry, I know how you are. If the goals aren’t clear and a timeline in place, you’ll never stick to it. I’ve taken the initiative to do a little planning for you. All your goals are reachable, and your timeline flexible, but you still have quite a bit of work on your hands.

January will be a month for cleansing and preparation. You will finish the edits to Guarded Hearts and you will revise your query and synopsis. Oh, and just your luck Romance Writers of America meets in your city. I’ve signed you up to be a guest at the first meeting of the year. I’ve also started a blog to keep you on task. Your daily blog at writing.com should help. Just remember to post goals daily.( Made it a CWR meeting in July and started edits on Guarded Hearts.)

February will bring a new challenge, actually outlining a story before you write it. Hey, you’re the one who said you wanted to add depth to your stories. You will also research agents and get Guarded Hearts ready to send. I’m pulling for Harlequin Super Romance for this one, so get your tushie in gear. (Outline done, but Harlequin is still waiting.)

March is the unofficial, official March NaNo in the Novel Workshop. That great outline you just finished in February will help you reach those fifty thousand words in no time. And don’t think those sixteen hundred odd words get you out of submitting. WOW (Women on Writing) is expecting a short story from you by the end of the month. I was thinking something about being the parent of an autistic child. It’s about time you started writing about him. (Hum. . . started outlined story. . . )

April is going to be wild. Besides filing away those letters from agents, I’ve signed you up to teach a workshop at the Novel Workshop’s Workshop. Don’t worry too much. You’re teaching the Rough Draft in Thirty Days and using You NaNo novel as an example. (The workshop was a success even with being out of town for a week. Continued working on WIP. Submitted Guarded Hearts and signed a contract, but no short stories. Still very proud of my accomplishments for a very busy month.)

May is usually a crazy month for you, and I’m thinking this will be the month you hear from your editor about Awenasa Island, so I’m leaving things pretty open. However, this is not the time to get lazy. Make sure you are writing morning pages, reviewing at the romance house, writing short stories, (a few entries to the Writer’s Cramp wouldn’t hurt), and of course there’s always editing to be done. Your NaNo novel has been marinating on the shelf for a month now so feel free to pick it up and start edits. (Finished edits for Awenasa Island and released the e-book and print! YEAH!)

Ah, now we get to June. I know it’s your favorite month. Enjoy your time at the beach house but don’t forget to rest, relax, review and edit. Oh, and don’t neglect those agent letters. If you don’t have one by now, might be time to starting making some changes to Guarded Hearts.(Kinda forgot about those agent letters, but did make my top ten list for the next WIP.)

July will be mostly the same except I’m thinking this would be a great time to finish up old projects, like your March NaNo book, and plan some new ones. Short stories are always in order, and then there is the outline for your personal NaNo book in August. By now you should be an old pro at outlines. (Continued work in WIP and joined the CWR (Carolina Romance Writers)

August is the month of your personal NaNo. Thirty-one days to write fifty-thousand words. Don’t even think about telling me you’re too tired at this point unless you DON’T plan to be a professional writer. Let’s just put things into perspective. Bigger house, showing horses again, not worrying about bills… all the motivation you need to enjoy those sleepless nights. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, Plenty of motivation, but not enough time or energy. Just worked on finishing WIP)

September should be easy going. You will submit your March NaNo book to your new agent and he/she will love it. Celebrate this movement! Enjoy your success then get back to work. You will be thankful you put in a little effort now when November NaNo rolls around. (Finished March WIP and started outlining November NaNo book.)

October will be NaNo outlining and August NaNo book editing. This would also be a great time to catch up on blogs, webpage posts, ect. (Outlined NaNo book and listened to the RWA Conference on DVD. How do people remember all that wonderful information in a week. Took me three to get through the DVD version.)

November NaNo is finally here again. Despite what you might think you do still have fifty-thousand words left in you. Just think, after this month you will have five novels completed. Think where five novels could get you. Remember to spend a little time giving thanks to all the people who have gotten you here; writing.com, the girls and guy and the Romance House, Bluewood Publishing, The Novel Workshop’s Workshop, Your new agent, family, friends, and most of all, YOU! (Won my first Nano and decided to NEVER do it again. I have 60K of crap that will never see the light of day.)

December is always a month of joy. Hopefully you will be working with your agent on edits this month. Don’t forget this is also the year you spend the holidays with your family. Take some time off to enjoy them. Reflect back on how far you’ve come in twelve months. Pat yourself on the back for your efforts, commit to learning from your mistakes, and above all, be proud. You are one year closer to becoming a professional writer! (I didn’t come as far as I had hoped on the writing front but I learned an immeasurable amount about writing, my voice, my style, and the types of stories I want to produce. The writing will come but the lessons learned are priceless.)

Love and God Bless,
You

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Edit Out of Order


No long explanations needed here. Have you ever thought to edit out of order? Instead of focusing on the flow of the story as a whole, do you focus on the flow of just one scene? Does it have all of the elements; conflict, character development, motivation? How about the dialogue, does it move the story along as well as give a glimpse into the speaker? Are your characters staying true, and is there both a push and a pull in the scene?

Editing out of order helps you bring in the scope. Each scene, or chapter depending on how you write, should be able to stand alone as its own story. Once you’re satisfied with the smaller parts, the whole, chronological edit, will be a breeze.

Happy writing!
Ann

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spice up the Tension by Creating Moral Magnets.



Alright, I’m sure I’m not the only person to think of this one, but it did take me three years to figure it out.

Romance is bred from conflict. The more hoops the main characters have to jump through to reach their Happy Ever after, the more interesting the story, right?

I’ve often thought of my characters as magnets (cue the scene from The Cutting Edge, where what’s-her-name compares her love for Doug Dorsey to magnets, repelling each other until one is flipped.) If you have no idea what I’m talking about, rent the movie. It’s a classic.

That magnetic push and pull is easy to create with one simple step. Think opposites attract. If your hero has a strong moral compass, than let the heroine veer off the virtue path. Maybe the heroine is an animal lover and the hero a deer hunter. You get the point. The push and pull creates conflict and a multitude of natural obstacles for both the LF and LM to overcome.

After all, the Happy Ever Afters that take great effort to reach are the ones we all swoon for. Make those heroes and heroines work to reach them!

Happy Writing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - Theatrical Trailer



Yes, I'm a Twilight Whore and I don't care who knows it!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL



HI all,

I just finished all my shopping this morning and am spending the rest of the day cleaning while little man is in school. Tonight the cooking begins and with any luck we will have a spread worth the time tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I’m giving myself some thanks by watching The Hallmark Channel all day and the great holiday movies while I clean.

So, to those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving here is the states, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Don’t overdose on the TURKEY!

Ann

Saturday, November 6, 2010

They are called Trenches.


I just returned from an RWA meeting and feel so refreshed. Not sure if it is the hour of silence I have on the way there, or the “adult conversation” I lack the rest of the month, but I always return feeling a little more centered then before.

Today, Jana G. Oliver shared her experience of going from self-published, to small press, to BIG NAME publisher, too soon to be New York Time best seller.

The message I left with—I’m in the trenches of this thing we call publishing. Thank goodness she cleared that up because I mistakenly thought I was in purgatory.

I know where I want to be, and I know what I have to do to get there, but like most plot lines, the middle is muddy.

From the outside publishing seems like this almost automatic run of events-- write book, send out MS, attend book signings, make millions, guest appearance on Oprah.

Most non-authors don’t see the murky in-between the HOT DAMN I have a contract, to the actual printing of the book. Then there’s the promotion WHILE writing number two and three and . . . You get the picture. At times it seems daunting, but what makes me always come back is it ALWAYS feels worth it.

So, to those in the trenches, and to those who support us (i.e. put up with our masochistic butts) Happy Writing!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October is for Reading

I just noticed I haven’t updated my blog all month. **slaps hand** Sorry for the oversight but with good reason.
After finishing my last draft of my WIP I realized I had spent over eight months straight on writing and frankly, the creativity well was dryer than grandma’s year-old fruit cake from the freezer. The great part of being a writer is the ability to take a month off to research, i.e. READ! I’ve had a BLAST refilling the well and thanks to the huge book sale yesterday for our local library fund, I have several more books to go before NaNo Wrimo in 6 DAYS!
Here is the short list of what I have read and LOVED this month. Hope you enjoy.



Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick—This one tops my list for sure. Cannot wait to get my hands on Crescendo (after NaNo)







Shiver-Maggie Stiefvater- A new twist for the wolf lovers (I’m a closet team Jacob member), and a refreshing change from first person narrative to first person split POV. Not that I have an issue with first person, but I do like to get both sides of the story.





Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr- Not my normal read, but maybe it should be. Fantastic. Also looking forward to the rest of the series, after NaNo of course.




Once a Witch- Carolyn MacCullough- I read the first half this morning before the house woke up and was terribly tempted to add sleeping pills to everyone's orange juice at breakfast so I could finish. Can’t wait to finish tonight after little man is asleep.

All book covers lifted from Amazon.com

Happy Writing/Reading/Well-filling.

Ann

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hottie Friday

I’m taking a break from NaNo readiness for a little fun eye candy. Think I will make this a usual thing here on the blog. I do like life of the ‘sweeter side’ after all, and how much better can you get than these guys. Got suggestion? Comment below and I’ll add them next week.





Mr. Fraser. He’s a family man with high morals and values. A good girl’s hottie!




Mr. Elliot. Come on ladies, you know he is the classic American cowboy. What’s not to love?




Mr. McGregor. He sings, he dances, and he can play Jedi mind ticks on you.

Happy Weekend, Ya'll

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NaNo. . . and Here We Go

After a debacle over my Golden Heart status, i.e. I’m published therefore cannot compete in the awards this year, (my life should be so horrible, really) I’ve decided to put the rough draft of current WIP, now marinating WIP, on the shelf and start outlining a new idea for National Novel Writing Month in November. I’m sure all my followers are well versed in this ridicules ritual we writers seem to feel the need to enter, but in case anyone is new to the sport, check out the NaNo WriMo info here.

When He gives you lemon, make Lemon Drop Martinis I say. If you remember all the way back to April, I taught a workshop on outlining the first draft. Well, I’ve learned a few tricks since then and I’ll share as I go along.

The first is a throw-back to my education days. I needed a simple and quick reference for all the info I forget while writing. What was that guy’s name again? What street was their house on? Green eyes or blue? With the goal of 50K in 30 days there is no time to search back through my 40+ page outline for these little details. Instead I create a fact folder.




This picture isn’t great, but you get the idea. Start at the bottom of a cheap file folder. Write each character’s name, setting, plot points, anything you will need to reference quickly on the bottom of an index card. I like the colored ones. From the bottom of the folder moving up, tape each card down so the title at the bottom shows.

When you’re done, you have a flip chart if facts, and a folder to keep all your extras in. As you can see from mine, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Happy writing ya’ll

Friday, September 24, 2010

HOTTIE FRIDAY

I’m totally lagging today. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, or the looming edits for WIP. Maybe the news that I’m not eligible for the Golden Heart because… I won’t go there. I have enough battles to wage.

Whatever the reason, I’m in need of some hotness. Join me won’t you.

Let’s start with something sweet yet tantalizing. Mr. Bloom




Now, on to a tried and true fav for me (all the way back to the Newsies days) Mr. Bale




Mr. Somerhalder. Enough said.




Mr. Skarsgård because I hope he eats Bill Compton.




Mr. Manganiello for the same reason as Mr. Skarsgård




And we’ll end with a man I wouldn’t mind spending some time listening too. Sexy voiced Mr. Armitage.





Happy Friday. Enjoy the eye candy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Morning Thoughts-Wish I had Thought Them Sooner


Ever since reading Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write, I have tried to vein to complete Morning Pages. Sounds easy enough, wake up 15 minutes early and write whatever comes to mind. I’ve tried for a year now to complete these seemingly dauntless pages, but I have very little to show for all the effort.

This week the answer came to me. Morning Thoughts.

I’m a snooze bar hitter. Oh yeah, like 4 or 5 times every morning. I relish that time between awareness and dream when for a few minutes I can float above reality. I do my best thinking on the flipside of reality, btw. In those snippets of time between alarms, my brain is clear and uninhibited by the day’s stress. Why not plot then?

This week’s little 9 minute (that’s the time between alarms on my clock) plotting sessions have worked me out of some fantastic story jams. I’m telling you, I feel like I’ve chased the rainbow and found the pot of gold! I lie there and think, and think, and then I spring up, full of positive energy, and run for the notebook. It’s incredible!

Try it for a few mornings and let me know what you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Don’t Do Recommendations


And most of the time I’m a year behind everyone else’s TBR pile, but in case anyone’s been under a bookcase (instead of rock…it sounded good in my head. Anyway) The Piano Teacher, by Janice Y. K. Lee is a must.

I’m not sure what it is I like so much. To be honest the first few pages had me baffled, but the more I read, the more I fall in love with Lee’s voice. There’s no rhyme or reason to her style, it’s just her thoughts, the way she thought them, put to page and wow, they make for great reading.

Her visions are so clear and concise yet the story is never bogged down with heavy descriptions. At times her mind rambles, but everything she says is like a little nugget of gold that pulls you in, wanting more! Love it!

If you’ve read The Piano Teacher, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Holy Ham Hocks Batman, Did That Just Happen?



My fingers just glossed over those 6 little letters that say: Yeah, You Did It, but mean: Wow, The Fun’s Just Starting For You!

THE END—Translated into writer’s terms this loosely means- WELCOME TO THE REAL WORK. FORGET SLEEP, LEARN TO LIVE WITH HUNGER, FORGO THE BATHS, you won’t need one away--no one visits your office. Oh, and if you’re missing pens, pencils, or small animals, check the knot of unwashed hair on your head.

The edits are coming soon, but for now I’m going to enjoy this little victory and take a small break. My TBR pile is toppling over and There are Soooo many workshops I want to sign up for including one on the Golden Heart.

On to celebrate small victories while they last. Edits are HELL!!!!!

A Must Read Blog Post, and No, I Didn't Write it.

11 Questions for Crafting a Pitch, by Rachelle Gardner.

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2010/09/11-questions-for-crafting-pitch.html

Sunday, September 19, 2010

FELT- Jilted from the Story



Picture it, 1939, Sicily. Most of us see Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls when we hear a line like that. Boy, she could tell some tells. So could Rose for that matter, but I digress.

How many times have you found yourself so caught in the action of a story you forget you were reading only to be YANKED from the narrative by one of these words; felt, wished, thought, wondered?

PLEASE, for the love of all things literary, don’t use these words in your story. Nothing pulls a reader from the action faster than being reminded they are in fact reading. Strike all the, felt, heard, saw, wondered, thought, etcetera, etcetera from your MS right now!

You’ll thank me later.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Very Short Note on Character Development


Poor internal conflict is often the nemesis of a great story line. I think the issue comes mostly from the misunderstanding of what true internal conflict really is.

Internal conflict is not something as simple as a misunderstanding, or an argument. It is a deep rooted character trait, created and cultivated in the character’s back-story. The struggle or conflict has to be overcome in order for the hero/heroine to move forward.

Examples of weak internal conflict

“I thought I saw you kiss another girl.” – Well, did he or didn’t he kiss her? One conversation between the main characters and this conflict can be resolved.

One way I’ve seen this put is, if your character were dropped off in outer space he/she would still have the same struggles to overcome.

Example: A woman mourning the loss of a child
A man betrayed by a lover
Someone riddled with guilt over a decision that ruined the life of a loved one.

These are things that cannot be resolved over a phone call. These are deep rooted conflicts that will take great sacrifice to overcome.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tips for Writer’s Block



The BLOCK happens to everyone at some point in their writing career. For most of us, it happens as often as the common cold.

My recent bout of the disease hit about the same time my summer vacation ended and I had to go back to work. Time has become a premium and the fear of wasting it keeps me from being productive; that and the seriously droopy eyes from waking up at 5 a.m. I’ve even noticed my publisher commented on the dreaded block on his blog this week. Must be catching!

Here are a few tips I use to help fend off the Block.
• Be Proactive, not Reactive. Take writing breaks and keep your ‘skills’ sharp. When the words start to fade and your mind wonders, take a break. Anything from taking a walk to refresh the mind, to a mini shopping trip, to an hour in the park with the family. If you enjoy other creative outlets, put them to use now. Create a show-stopping dinner, paint the sunset from you window…you get the idea.

• Inspiration in a Box. I don’t have much time to write during the week, usually whatever is left over from the day after work, home, and family. To help jump right back into a story I keep a small box loaded with items to help me ‘get into the mood’ of the story quickly. A scented candle, a CD of music matching the theme of the story, pictures of the setting, characters, and a copy of a plot outline help me pick up where I dropped off with little lag time.


• Refill the Creativity Well. Take your muse on a date. As odd as it sounds, when I get stuck I take my muse to the Goodwill. It’s cheap, close by, and full of an odd assortment on items that tickle my muse’s fancy. What gets your creative juices flowing? Maybe it’s a chat with a fellow writer, a good book, a weekend trip away, whatever it is, remember to be kind to your muse and treat her/him well.

What are your tricks of the trade when battling the BLOCK?

Ann

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anwenasa Interview

Come on over to http://deannajewel.blogspot.com/ for my first interview on Awenasa Island!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flowers From Sam a Short Story


Flowers From Sam,a short story I wrote two years ago for a contest, has been published with Associated Content. For a free read, click the link below and enjoy.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/715669/ann_stewart.html

TTFN,

Ann

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Griswold’s Family Vacation AKA I'm on Vacation





I grew up in the Griswold family. My father wasn’t as clumsy or numbskullish as Clark Griswold, but we had our share of Griswold family moments. The dog didn’t get dragged behind the car, but he did nearly drowned in a lake, eat a fishing hook, was rescued from a freezing pool, and hit by a car. Yes, he did live thought it all, thank the doggie angels.

I do remember a Christmas where something was living in the Christmas tree, and the summer mom almost sat of the Copperhead under her chair. There was the time we tried to save money on a summer vacation by camping. Who knew that was the same week the frogs had all decided to mate and crock well into the night. Hoards of them!

Oh, and the time the hornets’ nest fell in the fire place. Alfresco dinner that night I tell you!

The point of my longwindedness is, I am going on vacation. Up there in them hills, also known as Ma and Pa’s place, I won’t have internet, so I won’t be in the blogosphere to update here. As a consolation, I promise to post uber funny pictures from the trip. I’m sure there will be more than a few, mostly of me doing things I would only do with the Griswold’s.

TTFN
Ann

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grammar Lesson: Subject/Verb Agreement with Prepositional Phrases

This just kills me!

Each one of us were sipping on our drinks as the party clown juggled the balls.


Each one of us was sipping on our drinks as the party clown juggled the balls.

Which is it, was or were?

First, take out the prepositional phrase, Each one…sipping.

Each one were sipping.

Each one was sipping.

Obviously, was is the correct verb as it agrees with the subject, one.

Happy Writing!

Ann

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back in the Office

No, I’m still on summer vacation, but I did return to my office this week—my writing office that is.

Two years ago, when I took up writing as more than just a spectator sport, I transformed a corner of Hubby’s Man Den into an office. I had my grandfather’s old desk, still filled with his drafting tools and even one of his razors, my old desk top PC, and a chair. I was in business. From that old PC I could blast the music (YouTube) and write away for hours without stopping.

It was the Bee’s Knee’s!!!

This farm girl’s idea of Hog Heaven!

Then came the laptop…

And soon after, laptop # 2…

Then, couch potato, TV watching, snacking, chatting with the fam— NOOOO writing.

Cue Susan Power. “STOP THE insanity!”

Well, old well-loved desk, piles of manly mags and sports books, dirty laundry that hasn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in my son's life time, and whatever other disgusting things are lucking just beyond the confines of my corner in the Man’s Den—I’M BACK!

The speakers are pumping, this time from Playlist.com (Tina Turner to be precise), I’m double fisting the caffeine, singing at the top of my lungs, and I’m back in business!

Granddaddy Jackson would be so proud!—He liked Tina too.

TTFN

Ann

Writing Advice

Writing advice with a side dish of humor. Totally stolen from Youtube!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Busy July



July is turning out to be a busy writing months for me, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

While I have more free time than normal with summer vacation in full swing, I sighed up for July Novel in A Month group (Nano WriMo). So far things are going well and I’m making great progress on my WIP. I only obligated myself to write 30,000 words and edit 10 chapters of another work, but at the halfway point I’m well into both goals and will be able to finish my current rough draft by the end of the month.

There was also a workshop that caught my eye this week at writing.com. Mystery Writer, M.B. Fields is hosting a Mystery Short Story class. He promises the completion of a publishable short story by the end of the month. How can anyone resist such a promising offer? Now, I’m not planning to dump my Romance roots for Mystery, but it never hurts to diverse ones writing.

Speaking being diverse, another workshop caught my eye for this month. Starting today, I’m participating in a week long Erotica Fantasy challenge. In case you missed it up in the left hand corner, my tag line is ‘The Sweeter Side of Romance’, so why such a change?

I learned from a young age that putting all your eggs in one basket guarantees a hungry tummy. When I showed horses, I only showed in one discipline, but I studied several. The thought of jumping horses, or riding sidesaddle, or even Western didn’t appeal to me, but I learned them because being diverse made me an all around better rider.

Writing is the same way. When the opportunity to branch out and try something new presents itself, take a hold with gusto! If nothing else, you’ll stretch your brain and make a few new friends in the business.

On to something completely different. After six months of trying to make a meeting, I finally made it to the Carolina Romance Writers this month. I don’t think I’ve been so nervous walking into a room of people in years. The workshop was great, about the differences between men and women; did you know blind men lose their sex drive, and women get frisker the older they get?

I learned so much and the opportunity to sit around for a few hours and talk books, and agents, and publishers and covers was priceless. I was impressed with how many people I already knew thanks to facebook and networking. Several of us seem to run in the same writing circles and hit it off. I’ll defiantly be back to that chapter.

The rest of my month will be just as busy planning Hubby’s 40th birthday party and trying to organize this crazy house of mine.

I know I’m not the only insanely busy writer in the blogosphere. What is everyone else up to these days?
Ann

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cover for Brigadoon's Guarded Hearts


I've just received the cover art for Brigadoon's Guarded Hearts.

There are few days in a writer's life when the weight of uncertainly is lifted off the shoulders; the day the rough draft is finished, after sending the MS, the acceptance letter, and the day the cover is announced.

Today is one of those days! Hope you enjoy!

Ann

Monday, June 28, 2010

There’s No Such Thing as Speed Editing!

Believe me on this one, I know. The painful truth is the only thing you gain for speed editing is a poor quality manuscript. Sure, you can speed read your favorite book and ninety percent of the time understand everything you read, but editing is a different animal.

When you read, your brain picks up patterns in words. You see the letters S-E- and before you read the next letter (E) you know the word to be SEE. This is because your brain has memorized this word; the appearance of it, the shape and pattern of the letters and the size of the word on a page. I’m sure we’ve all seen the spam emails where someone writes a bunch of words, leaving out unnecessary letters. If not, congratulations! I’d love to cut down on the junk mail in my box. The point is, you don’t always need all of the letter in order to read the word.

The reason this ‘pattern reading’ works is because over years and years of practices, your brain has taken pictures of every word as you read and stored it away in the big filing cabinet between your ears. (Some filing cabinets are larger than others, but we’re not here to judge.)

This pattern reading, or as my favorite High School Literature teacher, Mr. Gay, used to call it, photo reading, is a nice gift to have until it becomes so automatic you can’t shut it off. I can’t shut mine off by the way. When I edit my speed reader kicks in.

Editing with your speed reader on is like driving 80 MPH with foggy goggles covering your eyes. Sure you can make out the road, and yeah, you can see the big dog—or was it a deer—in the road, but the small detailed patterns on the road signs become invisible. Your brain starts using all those stored snapshots and you gloss over words that might be missing a letter, or are used incorrectly (homophones are the devil’s bitches.) without realizing you’re skimming even when you thought you were editing.

***tisk, tisk***

I’m a guilty party for editing with my skimmers on. I get so excited about a story I’m working on or a blog post, or, heaven forbid a Facebook post, that I miss the small yet blatant errors staring me in the face.

Are you a pattern reader? Join the club. We meet in the church basement on Monday nights and wear nametags that say…Hello. My name is… Oh, that’s another group entirely. In all seriousness pattern reading has an easy fix. Of course it is fine to pattern read when you’re enjoying someone else’s book, but if you find you’re having trouble when editing yours there are a few tricks that help.

First, and most obvious but worth mentioning, tell yourself YOU ARE EDITING. Sit someplace away from the main traffic pattern in your house. Turn off the music, the television, the kids and the significant other (yeah, mine has a button for that) and tune into your work.

Second, now that things are quiet, read each word one at a time. Hopefully if you are at the point of editing to this degree you’ve already fixed the plot holes and underperforming characters. Reading word by word slows you down and refreshes the snapshots in your brain.

Last, there is no substitute for reading aloud. If you’re writing a best seller you’ll need the practice anyway for all those book reading you’re planning. Reading aloud forces the brain to not only see the word but translate it to sounds in order to speak it. As you read you’ll be able to find missing commas and punctuation marks. You’ll also catch dangling participles and passive voice.

Once you’ve learned to turn off the skimmers you’ll find that editing becomes as second nature as picking up a book and reading. Of course it never hurts to read over your final draft a time or two just in case.

Happy writing.

The Reformed Grammar Guru

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm A Grammar School Dropout!

Hello. My name is Ann, and I’m a Grammar School Dropout!

For those of you in the elitist Grammar Police Brigade this isn’t news. You’ve had your eyes on me for a while with my misplaced commas, fragmented sentences, and out of whack homophones. I’ve got a stack of red inked submissions to prove it. Like Hester Prynne, I wear a scarlet letter (only mine is a big fat red G for grammar.)

Yes, I’m an offender in the worst possible way, but I’m on the fast track to changing my evil ways! I’m turning over a new leaf, paying my debt to society, handing in my spell checker, and ***gulps*** taking an English Grammar class.

My high school Lit and Grammar teacher was a year away from retirement with enough sick days saved up to take most of MY sophomore year off. (Yes I used year twice in one sentence. Do you really expect me to be fully reformed on day one?) I blame her for most of my offences. Here’s where I also add my shameless plug for good teachers. IF YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO PUT IN THE TIME, DON’T TEACH! That’s for you Trailer Taylor! You know who you are.

I also blame television for my bad spelling and grammar. They, being people much smarter than me, always say T.V. rots your brain and kills your attention span. They are right. I can’t sit still for the time it takes to pee, much less to proof sixty thousand words. So, Mark Burnett, I’m thinking of suing you. How dare you create reality television so riveting I chose to fry my brain instead of diagramming sentences?

Mostly I blame the college professor who gave me my first A on a research paper. I still remember her smiling at me when I looked at her, shock written across my face. She said the paper was right on target, but if she had graded the grammar I’d have gotten an F. She should have given me the F. Now I think as long as the content is good people will overlook the mistakes. Yeah right!

Alright, alright. Really I blame myself.

So here I go, off to grammar school, again. This time I’m taking you all with me. Yeah, you in the back corner, I can see you even with the hood over your head and the iPod plugged in your ears. Didn’t your Mama ever tell you those things will make you deaf? Even the guy in the back is coming along. If I have to endure the pain of being rehabilitated, you do too!

Class begins here on my blog as soon as I can muster up rewriting my lessons (and for once, proofing them). Stay tuned. There will be tears! There will be dangling participles! There will be manuscripts edited correctly! In the end, Ann will be rehabilitated into a Grammar Guru!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Visit to Awenasa

I was recently blessed with a week on Edisto Island, South Carolina. The secluded, family oriented island was the inspiration for the island of Awenasa. The most amazing part of the trip was actually convincing my husband to drive around for an hour and let me take a few pictures of some of the places you might remember from the book. Hope you enjoy a taste of my favorite island!


If you look closely behind the tree you'll see the island's Police Department attached to the Fire Department. Yea, it’s small. There’s not much crime in Edisto.


The road to Jon's private island. No wonder Shannon got lost. I would be looking up at all the trees the whole time.


The jetty from Shannon and Jon's fight on the beach.


The marsh on the highway. Can you smell the salty sea air?




The church where...well, you'll have to read to find out what happens here.


Okay, so this wasn't in the book, but I love this tree. Every year as we travel down the highway leading to Edisto we look for it. Yes, those are beach toys decorating a tree in the marsh with an American flag above.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Autograph Please!

I never would have thought the most nerve-racking part of this whole publishing business would be signing my name on the inside of the first book sold. Seriously, my hands shook and I had to practice on paper before I could commit to the autograph. I have visions of authors whipping out books to scores of waiting admirer and all I can think it, please not me!
Tell me this gets easier!

Ann

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Looking for Great Free Advice?

Then you need to be following this lady!
http://joconquerobstacles.com/2010/06/08/turning-an-audience-into-followers-fans-and-friends/

I follow Jo on Facebook but you can also follow her blog. Her advice is priceless yet free; definitely worth your time to read if you have any interest in becoming published or are promoting yourself.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Extract from Awenasa Island

Want to taste a great summer read? Follow me to


http://www.bluewoodpublishing.com/Extracts/AwenasaIsland.html

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Awenasa Island Available from Bluewood Publishing


Today is a day two years in the making. In August of 2008, I met a wonderful group of women at The Romance House and began writing a book.
Awenasa Island is now available from Bluewood Publishing in electronic form! Paperback is coming soon. **happy dance, happy dance, happy dance***

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May



Oops! May just slipped right past me without so much as a second of down time. Well, maybe a second here and there but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
I’m very happy to say I finished the final proof edits for Awenasa Island last week and am waiting with heightened anticipation to hear it is ready for print. I still can’t believe a year ago I had this manuscript rotting away in the back of my desk.
I’ve also spent much of the month working on a synopsis for my third novel (WIP). The Novel Workshop is hosting a synopsis class, so I jumped at the chance. The workshop also made me think about other skills I need to improve on including grammar.
Let me be the first to say what those who know me best wouldn’t dare. I SUCK AT GRAMMER!! Thank goodness for editors!
I’m sure Deborah at Bluewood will be happy to hear I have signed up for an on-line grammar class for the summer. No more homophone issues or comma misplacements for me! I’m no longer a gramaphobic! (Is that how you spell it? )
If I learn anything interesting I’ll be sure to pass it along to you guys!

TTFN
Ann

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Second Contract Kick in the Pants


I am very excited to announce I signed the contract for my second romance novel, Brigadoon’s Guarded Hearts this week! What a way to end a whirlwind of a month.
And April was going to be my quiet month with time to rest and reflect on where I have been and where I am headed. Instead I hosted a workshop on outlining, started the Garden Parties, finished edits on my latest, and am now working on rewriting my March Nano WIP. No wonder my brain is fried to the point I can’t even think of the words to post something on this blog.
So, what does May have in store for me? Defiantly more edits for WIP. I’m a bit perplexed with the short stories I had planned to send out this month. No matter how I try I can’t seem to keep the shorts short! Maybe I’m a novel girl at heart after all.
Oh well! Upward and outward even if I can’t seem to keep from being long winded about it.
For now it’s back to edits and reconfiguring story lines. Happy Saturday everyone.
Ann

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Natalie Breckenridge in the Garden


I know, today is not Saturday, but some people are worth waiting an extra day to hear from. Today in the garden I have invited my good friend and resident sounding board, Natalie Breckenridge.

Natalie lives the life we all dream of. She spends her mornings lazily sipping coffee and reading a few chapters of her favorite books then spends the afternoon riding her adopted horse, The Bandit, and lavishing her four greyhounds with love and long runs. When I’m not green with envy of her (and secretly plotting to take over her life) I enjoy hearing her thoughts on everything from politics to pasta salad.

She confessed to me a few weeks ago that she, among the millions of other things she does daily, has decided to write a book. Then, in true Nat fashion, adds the very small detail that she has already written the small novel, 120K, and Little Brown has asked to see the full manuscript.

Hello Nat. Welcome to my garden.


Glad to be here, Ann. The weather here in North Carolina is gorgeous! No doubt, The Bandit would like to move here. The grass and the trees are so green, I feel like I’m wrapped in a perfect chef salad.

Hee, hee. Just wait a few more months. The doubt will set in and everything turns brown. For now, we will enjoy. You said your favorite color was pink, she Jeffrey and I headed out the Lowes to see what pink flowers we could find. They had none. Don’t worry, I told them you would be around soon to scold them.

Instead, we did find some wonderful Azaleas bushes and planted them around the house in honor of your visit.


Thanks, girl. They look wonderful. I still can’t get over the green. It’s everywhere.

When we spoke last, you had just mailed off you complete manuscript to Little Brown. How does it feel to give your baby away like that?

Hum. I think I am still in shock. A year ago, I gave up painting when my husband pointed out my recent surge in spending on supplies and lack of complete work. “I think you need a muse recharge,” he said, then suggested taking up a free hobby. Thank God he didn’t stop to list all the hobbies I’ve picked up and dropped over the years.

My older sister is an editor and had just complete pitching her own magazine, so I figured I was a safe beat for a short story. Night after night the story grew until I had about fifty thousand words. My sister refused to take the WIP, but suggested I keep working on it and sell it as a book.

Most of the authors I talk to started writing for fun. Did you start thinking one day you might have a best seller?

No way! Writing was a way to pass the time and sort out all the thoughts in my head. Before I married I was a Social Workers and saw some very disturbing things. This story was a way to voice what I saw in hopes to move on. As the story morphed into more of a novel, I realized giving a voice to the violence I had seen freed me in a way. Writing can become very addictive.

Well Nat, I know your story is not in publication right now, but could you give us an idea what it is about, you know for when after Little Brown jumps on it!!

Sure thing Ann. The novel is slated for young adult. The main character, Allie, has just found out she is adopted and the identity of her real parents has gone up in a cloud of smoke at the local hospital. She’s seventeen and looking forward to attending college in the Fall, but not until she knows her own identity.

As her Fall term deadline approaches, her search goes into overdrive and her life is consumed with finding her birthparents. Friendships get lost along the way and new ones foraged. In her haste, she realized she hasn’t been very picky about who she spends her time with.

One late summer night, she finds herself in the back of a police car, facing charges of robbery and attempted murder.

Don’t worry too much for poor Allie. Someone is coming to her rescue soon, her real father. Someone Allie has known most of her life.
That about sums up what I can say for now.

Sounds pretty good to me so far, Nat. I often wonder where people get their ideas for characters. Would you share where Allie came from?

Right out of college I spent a few months working at a youth home as a coordinator. Basically, I slept at the center and helped with any issues that arose during the night as well as ran the intake.

On good nights I had lots of free time, so I sat in on a few sessions with the girls. My heart broke for every one of those girls. Most where excellent young ladies who had to live through circumstances I couldn’t dream of. I often wondered what would happen if you took a child with no future and stuck her is a house with everything to offer. Allie is a mix of the different girls I met over the months and the happy ending I always hoped they would have.

Sounds like a very in-depth and emotional story. I have read the first few chapters, and a tissue box is recommended! I hope you all the best with Little Brown!

Thanks, Ann!

Now Nat, you know I like to ask crazy questions to give the readers a glimpse into your thoughts. Are you ready?

Ready.

Great.

What must we know about you?


I don’t think you have enough room on your blog for everything. I guess the most important thing is I say the first thing that comes to mind. People not always like that about me. Deep down I’m a very nice person, but if you ask me if you look fat in a dress, and you do, I’m going to tell you.

Your guiltiest guilty pleasure?

Hum, X-rated. Cannot comment. Oh, and chocolate.

Favorite read?

I just finished “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick. I know, I’ve been under a rock. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to.

Garden tip?

Call a landscaper.

Side dish or drink for the party?

I know you mean food here, but mine would be lemonade mixed with raspberry purée and rum. Who needs food after something that good?

Sounds like a winner to me, Nat. Thank you so much for coming to my garden and sharing your writing adventure. I wish you the best of look with Publishing your work (by the way, because I haven’t said the title yet, the working title is “Allie”.

Before you go, I have one more question.

When your time comes (a long, long time from now), what mark do you hope to leave behind?


Wow. I have had to think on this one for a while. I guess I would want people to understand we are a product of our environment and to give everyone a chance to succeed. If you think about it, most of the powerful people in the world had to overcome extreme circumstances to get there.

Thank you for coming today Nat.

**Natalie Breckenridge writes under a pin name in order to protect the identity of her past clients.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Julie Romero in the Garden



Saturday Garden Parties have begun and I’m so happy to have Julie Romero with me for the inaugural interview.

The weather is sunny and bright. The bumble bees are buzzing about around the clover flowers and in the far corner a stray red tulip is about to bloom.

In honor of Julie’s visit, my son Jeffrey and I went to the nursery and bought two rose bushes for the garden, pictures to follow.


Hello Julie. Welcome to my garden.

Hi Ann, thank you so much for inviting me.

It’s a little sparse around here now, but spring is in the air and I am looking forward to tilling the soil with some of the best authors in the business.

What a better way to welcome spring. I am the seedling to your one day immense garden. Nice. I wish my garden was a virtual one, then I wouldn’t have to pop a Sudifed every time I water.


I know the feeling. Runny noses in exchange for flowering beauty. I think the tradeoff’s worth it.

Your Historical Romance, A Soldier’s Embrace is now available from Bluewood Publishing. How did you celebrate the release of your first novel?
I think I was in shock, really. I have this feeling of disbelief every time I pass a publishing hurdle. When I received the news A Soldier’s Embrace had been picked up by Bluewood, it took a while for the news to sink in. I had my husband read the email out loud to me. It was released right after the new year, so my husband and some friends of mine celebrated the upcoming release on New Years Eve. Usually every New Years, I made a quiet resolution-may this be the year I get a book published. It was really nice to finally have that year.

Sounds like a great way to ring in a New Year. Congratulations on the book by the way. Can you give us a little peak into your novel?
Sure. A Soldier’s Embrace is an Historical Romance set in 1878, a time when the American Prairie was a very dangerous place to be. It is a story of Elizabeth Davenport and Lieutenant Eric Ryan, two people struggling to cast off their families morals and expectations for their own burning desires in Victorian America.

I often wonder where people get their ideas for characters. Would you share your inspiration for Elizabeth an Eric with us?
Lieutenant Eric Ryan is loosley based on a real life Captain who fought under General Custer and died at Little Big Horn. His personality though, I borrowed from my husband, Kyle. A gentleman, loyal, kind hearted and no matter what, strives to do the right thing, no matter the outcome. I find those characteristics so sexy in a man.

Elizabeth-well at first I had a hard time writing her. I didn’t want her to be a proverbial Victorian lady. I wanted her to have a mind of her own, and yet, show a vulnerable side. Her fear of bugs? Yeah, that’s me. I hate bugs and learned just how much during a camping trip to Yosemite two years ago. Once I stopped freaking out about things flying close to my face, I got out a note book, sat down by a lake (wearing tons of bug spray, I might add) and just started writing her.

You are very lucky to have such a wonderful husband. Does he have brothers? Not for me mind you, just wanted to ask for my singer reader. *wink*

What/who do you credit for inspiring you as an author?

My father and my brother, Mike were both writers. I can remember my brother telling me to dream about anything and then write what I saw in my head on paper. My whole family has always been very supportive of my writing. I’m really lucky in that way. My mother, sister and I would trade books back and forth and then head back to the library for more. When I found a book I lost myself in, I always thought how great it would be to write a novel that people loved to read.

Can you give us a hint what you are working on now?
I’m working on two novels at the moment, which is odd for me. Usually I stay focused through one book before I move on to start another. I’m working on a sequel to A Soldier’s Embrace as well as a paranormal novel about a family of witches in Colonial America.


Now for some fun questions,

What must we know about you?


I’m a history geek. I enjoyed researching the American West so much, I have enough information for part two and three of Soldier, possibly more!

Your guiltiest guilty pleasure?

Eating chocolate. I have a bag of Dove Easter Eggs by me now as I type this.

Favorite read?

Gone With The Wind. I was about eleven when I first read it and man, it sucked me right into the old south, so much so I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. I think it was the first book that sparked my need to write. I also love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plumb books.

Garden tip?

I talk to my plants. Sometimes I name them. We just sit, chat and they grow or die-depending on the subject. Oh of course, you look and sound like a bonafide loon, but it’s very good therapy. During my research for my paranormal novel, I came upon an interesting item that witches believe in telling the plant why you are taking a piece of it and frequently ask for its permission. I don’t know what they do if the plant says no. Witches believe in being polite to the energies. I’ve also learned that if you plant pansies, foxglove and snapdragons you’ll attract fairies. Careful though, they like to sneak into your house and take things and move them around. I’m still looking for my glasses!

Side dish or drink for the party?

Strawberry Margarita’s

I’ll have to remember about the fairies. It would be nice to have a few in the garden, but maybe the wooden kind from the garden store. Don’t want any in my house unless they have magic cleaning powers!

Now, before you go I have one more question.


When your time comes (a long, long time from now), what mark do you hope to leave behind?


Boy, that’s a deep question. I think I have to say that I hope my books will still be around and readers will still be enjoying them long after I’m gone. That would be a dream!

Julie, I think that’s a wonderful legacy. We all just want to be remembered and what better way than through the stories we leave behind.

Thank you for coming today, Julie. Next time, we’ll have to make some Strawberry Margaritas, and if the tomatoes are ready, some homemade salsa. Good luck with new book.

A Soldier’s Embrace is currently available at www.bluewoodpublishing.com

Dancing on the ceiling…Maybe




I just mailed off my latest and greatest, the manuscript based on my experience in the horse show industry. (FYI, none of the characters are based on actual people, no matter how much they seem to be. Wink!)

I’m not convinced my query was as strong as it could have been, but after staring at it for a few days I had to either bite the bullet or chicken out…
I bit the bullet.

Now I feel stupid because I just realized after checking and rechecking the email, I left a blank page for a header, then forgot to add the header. **hitting myself over the head with my laptop.*** Oh well, shit happens.

Crossing fingers and toes, uncrossing, and crossing again.

Ann

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Showers...




I’ve been looking forward to April for some time now. March Novel in a Month is over and even though I didn’t write an entire novel, I got pretty far with a new MS. Updates to follow, but for now I can tell you the story involves a salty dog sea caption and a married woman. Interested? Leave a post.

I’m also excited to be putting the finishing touches on another MS tonight to mail off to a publisher tomorrow. Cross your fingers and toes all goes well! This one is about a horse trainer with a shady past and a woman hell bent on overcoming her bad choices. I’ll post more after I hear back from the publisher.

April is the month I promised to start Garden Party Saturdays. I have an excellent new Historical Romance Writer lined up for this week, Julie Romero. Her novel, A Soldier’s Embrace, is currently available in e-book format and print from Bluewood Publishing. www.bluewoodpublishing.com. More to come Saturday.
For now I’m off to polish. See you Saturday.

Ann

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More on Garden Party Saturdays


Spring has sprung in Charlotte just in time to save me from the winter blues. The sun is shining and the daffodils are in full bloom. The whole neighborhood looks like a botanical garden, except for my sorry excuse of a yard. I’m afraid gardening is not my strong suit and my husband would rather be at a basketball game then spreading grass seed and weeding.

Our mound of brown is depressing.

So, what do you do when you don’t even have lemons to change to lemonade? You call in a legion of friends and declare Garden Party Saturdays!

More Garden Party fun to come…

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dreaded Writer’s Block

I’m suffering from it alright, the dreaded writer’s block. All my usual tricks are coming up short and I’m about eight thousand words short for Nano. Thank goodness I still have two weeks to go. (And I just used 'short' twice, gads!)

When I get blocked like this I have a few tricks up my sleeve that usually work.

Reading helps get my head in the game.
An artist date to fill the well again.
A fun outing with friends.
A break for a day and let the story marinate.
I rewrite.

NONE OF THIS IS WORKING!!!

So, that leaves me with this very important question. What do you do to get through Writer’s Block?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Eyes of March are Tired


One day left before March begins and I’m in a mad dash to get my house clean one more time before I hibernate in the office with both computers.

My poor blog will suffer a little neglect this month, but never fear Garden Parties are near.

Starting in April I will host weekly Garden Parties, pictures to follow with fellow authors. There will be food, spirits and plenty of warm sunshine and info for all.

Check back in for a weekly update on Nano progress this month and get your gardening gloves ready for the first week in April!

TTFN

Ann

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Busy Month Ahead

March is almost upon us again and for me that can mean only one thing…the busiest time of the year!

My kids, the one’s I teach, not the one I gave birth to, have end of grade testing coming up, so I’m sure I’ll be on my feet from now until May, testing, retesting, and tutoring.

Away from the daily drudge, March is the official, unofficial Novel in a Month, month at the romance house. Fifty-thousand words mixed with family and work― my head might start spinning. Really, NaNos are great fun and I recommend them to anyone interested in writing. Check out http://www.nanowrimo.org/ for more info.

So, speaking of NaNo, I have two almost completed outlines to choose from and I can’t make up my mind. Outline one is a humorous addition to my normally dramatic rantings about a woman trying to find love in small town Tennessee despite the fact her meddling aunt put a personal ad in the classifieds between the farm equipment and house painters. It’s a laugh a minute ride until hearts are put on the line.

Choice two started as a dream last week and has pretty much written itself over the past several days. Ava’s a woman on the run from a mysterious man and Ethan’s an ex-Navy sailor turned fisherman struggling to keep his sport fishing business afloat on a small island in Maine. It takes a while for sparks to fly between these two but when they do… make sure you’re standing near water.

Oh March, please be kind to me! Summer vacation feels like its right around the corner, yet it still so far away.

TTFN
Ann

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In My Dreams



I love when I can come up with an entire story concept while catching some zzz’s! I feel very Stephanie Meyerish today.
Actually, the act of dreaming up a story and then being able to write the whole thing down has never happened to me. Sure, I’ve dreamed up bits and pieces, but the whole thing…never!

This morning I woke at the ungodly hour of 5am. The alarm buzzer pierced right through a vivid dream about a sailor and a woman running from an abusive husband. This might not be the stuff your dreams are made of, but if it means a story line and finished novel, I’m game. By the time I pulled into work I had outlined the whole story in my head and most of it on paper.

Cloud nine has beckoned to me all day and, as if things couldn’t get much sweeter, the mail lady delivered my “freshly made” copy of Jennie Marsland’s “McShannon’s Chance”. I love everything about it and I haven’t even cracked the spine yet.
So much to do, so little time.

TTFN
Ann

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dear Me





Now that we are safely out of January and the dreaded New Years resolution ritual, I can publish my goals for 2010. This is my “Dear Me” letter which has become my tradition as a member of writing.com. The list is ambitious, but I do plan to finish everything on it―or give it my best shot anyway!
Happy Writing
Ann

Dear Me,
2009 was a year to remember for you. Two written novels, one contracted, one very close, three short stories entered into paying contests, a webpage, a BlogSpot, and 165 Facebook friends. For someone with mediocre computer skills, you did well. 2009 was a year of firsts. 2010 will be the year of great accomplishments.

You’ve proven yourself a writer. No more hiding in the closet and only writing when everything in your busy life is complete. This year writing moves to the front seat of your life. This will be the year you prepare to make the leap from hobby to career.

Don’t worry, I know how you are. If the goals aren’t clear and a timeline in place, you’ll never stick to it. I’ve taken the initiative to do a little planning for you. All your goals are reachable, and your timeline flexible, but you still have quite a bit of work on your hands.

January will be a month for cleansing and preparation. You will finish the edits to Guarded Hearts and you will revise your query and synopsis. Oh, and just your luck Romance Writers of America meets in your city. I’ve signed you up to be a guest at the first meeting of the year. I’ve also started a blog to keep you on task. Your daily blog at writing.com should help. Just remember to post goals daily.

February will bring a new challenge, actually outlining a story before you write it. Hey, you’re the one who said you wanted to add depth to your stories. You will also research agents and get Guarded Hearts ready to send. I’m pulling for Harlequin Super Romance for this one, so get your tushie in gear.

March is the unofficial, official March NaNo in the Novel Workshop. That great outline you just finished in February will help you reach those fifty thousand words in no time. And don’t think those sixteen hundred odd words get you out of submitting. WOW (Women on Writing) is expecting a short story from you by the end of the month. I was thinking something about being the parent of an autistic child. It’s about time you started writing about him.

April is going to be wild. Besides filing away those letters from agents, I’ve signed you up to teach a workshop at the Novel Workshop’s Workshop. Don’t worry too much. You’re teaching the Rough Draft in Thirty Days and using You NaNo novel as an example.

May is usually a crazy month for you, and I’m thinking this will be the month you hear from your editor about Awenasa Island, so I’m leaving things pretty open. However, this is not the time to get lazy. Make sure you are writing morning pages, reviewing at the romance house, writing short stories, (a few entries to the Writer’s Cramp wouldn’t hurt), and of course there’s always editing to be done. Your NaNo novel has been marinating on the shelf for a month now so feel free to pick it up and start edits.

Ah, now we get to June. I know it’s your favorite month. Enjoy your time at the beach house but don’t forget to rest, relax, review and edit. Oh, and don’t neglect those agent letters. If you don’t have one by now, might be time to starting making some changes to Guarded Hearts.

July will be mostly the same except I’m thinking this would be a great time to finish up old projects, like your March NaNo book, and plan some new ones. Short stories are always in order, and then there is the outline for your personal NaNo book in August. By now you should be an old pro at outlines.

August is the month of your personal NaNo. Thirty-one days to write fifty-thousand words. Don’t even think about telling me you’re too tired at this point unless you DON’T plan to be a professional writer. Let’s just put things into perspective. Bigger house, showing horses again, not worrying about bills… all the motivation you need to enjoy those sleepless nights.

September should be easy going. You will submit your March NaNo book to your new agent and he/she will love it. Celebrate this movement! Enjoy your success then get back to work. You will be thankful you put in a little effort now when November NaNo rolls around.

October will be NaNo outlining and August NaNo book editing. This would also be a great time to catch up on blogs, webpage posts, ect.

November NaNo is finally here again. Despite what you might think you do still have fifty-thousand words left in you. Just think, after this month you will have five novels completed. Think where five novels could get you. Remember to spend a little time giving thanks to all the people who have gotten you here; writing.com, the girls and guy and the Romance House, Bluewood Publishing, The Novel Workshop’s Workshop, Your new agent, family, friends, and most of all, YOU!

December is always a month of joy. Hopefully you will be working with your agent on edits this month. Don’t forget this is also the year you spend the holidays with your family. Take some time off to enjoy them. Reflect back on how far you’ve come in twelve months. Pat yourself on the back for your efforts, commit to learning from your mistakes, and above all, be proud. You are one year closer to becoming a professional writer!

Love and God Bless,
You

Monday, January 18, 2010

Boot Straps




I’ve been living life on auto-pilot the past several weeks. I tried to pass the lack of ambition off as a vacation, but let’s just get real… I’m at a complete standstill.

I know how I got here. In November, right after I signed the contracts for Awenasa Island, I somehow pulled all three hamstrings in the back of my left leg. Because I’m a huge procrastinator I didn’t see a doctor and thought the problem would just dissipate into thin air and life would go on at its usual break-neck speed. WRONG! Listen up people, if you hurt your body, seek out a professional’s help!

Now, two months later, I’m stuck in a lackluster rut of despair. No, I’m not clinically depressed, just a little blue around the edges. I’m going to PT and the leg is slowly beginning to work again. Walking is hard, and I still can’t sit for long periods of time or stand for very long. Nerve damage is a Bitch, but I did ask for it by not seeking help, so who’s really to blame? No, I’m not asking, I know I did it to myself.

What do you do when you’re down in the dumps and no one’s around to understand you and pull you out? Grab your own damn boot straps and pull!!! Easier said than done, but hey, I’m not the kind to sit in a pile of my own poo for too long.

Here’s to those of us who can tell when they need to just get over it, and to those not afraid to tell us we need a shower and a bullshit check. Yea, it takes me twice as long to move through life right now (literally, twice as long to get my body to move), but who’s to say making it through this rough patch won’t make me twice as fast in the long run.

Cheers to the strong bitches among us!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Writer’s Block or Second Novel Jitters

I started writing on a regular basis about two years ago after joining a fabulous group of woman. Three months later I had the first chapter of my first romance novel complete, a task I had wanted to do for many years. As the months rolled on I continued to write. With the tutelage of my writing group and a desire to finally reach the dream of being published I kept on through family dysfunctions, broken computers and, illness. Six months after finishing that first polished chapter, I finished Awenasa Island, packed it in an oversize envelope and sent it away to a friend in the publishing world to critique.

The result of my hard work wasn’t a publishable novel, but countless lessons in what to do better for the next one. My review came back marked in red ink and, all though encouraging, pretty much ended my dreams of publishing the story. I could have taken the critique as the last nail on my writing coffin, but instead I chose to see it as the first building block to achieving my dreams. I sat down that very day and wrote the first few sentences to my second romance.

Fast forward six more months down the road. While editing my second novel, a best seller I was sure, I received and email from an editor and partial owner of a new up and coming publishing company. I had published the first three chapters of my novel on line, and she had read them. Even more, she had given them to her partner to read and they both loved the story. I put my life on hold and edited till my fingers went numb for two solid months. I fell in love with the story all over again. I held my breath and sent my baby away to Bluewood Publishing.

I was so sure my story would be rejected I regretted telling anyone I sent it. After all, this was the same story I had hidden in the back of my desk. Ten days later I received a contract. Fairy tale ending―I should say so.

That was two months ago. The “oh-my-goodness” factor has worn away and the reality has set in. I gave myself a few weeks away from writing to bask in the glow of victory. A few weeks became a month. One month became two. Every time I sit down to edit my second book I freeze. In the back of my mind I keep thinking, what if the first time was a fluke. What if the second novel is crap? What if I can never write anything but partial rough drafts again? Every time I sit down to write the doubt stops me cold.

I’ve tried starting a new novel, but around chapter six the same fear set in. What if, what if, what if…I can’t take it anymore!

My wheels are spinning and I’m putting in the effort but I’m only getting stuck deeper in the doubt. Oh, writing fairies where are you?

Anyone got any advice for a girl stuck in the mud?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!



Yea, this is only a small pile of the confetti on my floor by the stoke of midnight.


My husband and son were asleep by ten so I retreated to the bedroom to play on facebook, update my website, send some emails, and watch a great movie. Sounds exciting right. Hey, I'm no spring chicken anymore and the chance to watch "Marnie" alone and uninteruppted was too good to pass up.



As for the resolutions, I only have one. I know I need to lose weight, my house needs a ton of work, and I could go on and on, but listing out all the faults I need to fix only depresses me. I want 1010 to be uplifting. Why start with the negative.



2009 was a good year for me. We replaced the camera my son threw in the trash ( life for me without a camera is no life at all), Scott bought me a laptop (better than winning the lottery), I signed my first novel contract, we had NO emergency trips to the hospital or otherwise, and we are a healthy and happy family. What could be better?



So, for 1010 I have no great expectations. I'll be happy if I can repeat the above again on New Years Eve. The one thing I will strive for is more publications. I'm in the process of entering several contests. Check out WOW, Woman on Writing, and Glimmer Train. Both pay well. And another book wouldn't hurt. Two might even be better.



Whatever your Resolutions are, I wish you luck, sucesses, and many happy returns in 1010!