Wednesday, December 08, 2010

When is losing, winning? Or how is a raven like a writing desk?

I mentioned in my last post and on a thousand Facebook status updates I was doing NaNoWriMo this year.

50000 words in thirty days. Or 1667 a day. And you have to start a completely new project on November 1st. No finishing up a manuscript you’re let’s say four chapters into and have been for three, four years? Since the November you started this puppy?

Sounds easy? It’s not.

The problem wasn’t finding the time to write, although several days I didn’t even seem to find five minutes. But keeping the energy level up and going so you could get lost in the story and let it flow from your fingers. Keeping your mind in the game to use a sports analogy.

So what happened? Where did I wind up? On November 30 – I had 35000 words on a brand new series contemporary I’d been THINKING about writing since July. Now I have two thirds of the book done. In a month. 20K more, and the first draft will be complete. That’s my December goal. Which isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. Especially with it already being the 8th.

What did I learn? Thirty minutes gets me 500-900 words. I can do 2000 words on a Saturday morning and then go back for more. Writing on my lunch hour, thirty minutes before work, and then thirty after and I can reach that 1667 a day. And when I found myself 100 or so words short of the daily goal when I finished a scene or chapter? I stepped back into the manuscript and started a new scene or a new chapter.

Nike’s motto. Just do it.

This week I’m working on revising my first chapter and writing a synopsis for a deadline of December 15th. And buying a house and moving.

I don’t think I’m going to have the luxury of just writing. But I’m going to try to find those small quiet times where I can sneak in a few minutes. A few words.

The house in the picture is part of the old brewery in Highland, IL. Tunnels ran under the owner's houses so they didn't have to walk the block to the brewery. And no, it's not the house I'm moving into.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Writing mania.

I've been absent. Sorry. Taking an in depth crazy class in how to write crazy fast called NaNoWriMo.

And getting my entry ready for Golden Heart.

And finishing, sending off, and getting back a rejection (already?) on a spring sweet novella. Anyone know another market besides Samhain?

But today I'm up gain over at New Kids on the Writers Block talking about entering the Golden Heart contest this year.

Stop by if you have the chance.

I'll check in later this month.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Kids on the Writers Block

I'm over at New Kids today, talking about what scares me. Stop by if you have a moment.

The picture here and at New Kids is from St. Louis's Lemp Mansion. A real haunted house. Did you know St. Louis is also the site were the real exorcism of the Exorsist happened to a little boy from Maryland?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What’s going on in my world?

A lot.

I sent my cozy off to the St. Martin’s Traditional Mystery contest yesterday. Murder Me Book is the story based off a picture of an old run down house in Cambia, California. I’d been visiting the tourist towns when I visited my sister ten years ago. The village had glass blowing shops, antiques, artists, ice cream shops, and this really old house that had seen better days. What was I drawn to? The old house.

As I was writing the book, I got the idea that the home was the site of one of the first discoveries of gold starting the California gold rush.

Great idea. Unfortunately the Gold Rush started in Sacramento. Miles from where I’d placed my little town.

Then I decided to add a Spanish Mission. More research, but this time, I had better luck matching the history of the area to my fictional novel.

I’m also pitching the book to Carina Press on Wednesday. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sound intelligent and my book sound interesting enough to grab the editor’s attention. Then the cozy will be out to two different publishers. And I’ll be waiting.

I’m still waiting to hear about my romance set in Idaho that I pitched this summer at nationals. The publisher has a partial of this story, so if they love the partial, they’ll ask for the full. Or send me a revision letter. And I’ll work on the book some more.

My first finished manuscript is on the laptop, being revised. And I have a second book in this Finding Mr. Right series that I’ve started. Events and Adventures was the chapter I sent to the Mills and Boon New Voices Contest. Although I wasn’t in the top ten, or listed on the follow up list, I’d like to think my story was number 51 out of 850. Tough competition that.

Finally, I’m working on a novella. I’m about half way through and I have a deadline of November 1st for the next half. This one is set in my new hometown of St. Louis and deals with the Forest Park and Cancer Center, places I spent a lot of time a few years ago.

In between, I’ve been judging contests and have to prepare more work for two additional contests.

And the day job’s been keeping me busy. Very busy.

Juggling a lot of projects in the air. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. But chasing a dream takes dedication. And a lot of work.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Year of Me

Last year when I turned…mumble, mumble…on my birthday, I made myself a pledge. That this would be the year of Lynn. I’d do what I wanted the entire year.

And for the most part, I’ve followed that guideline.

I joined RWA and the local chapter, MORWA. I’ve attended most of the monthly meetings, even though I sat in the car before my first meeting alone and thought about turning around and driving the hour back home. Getting out of the car was the best thing I’ve done for my writing career yet.

I’ve read my work twice at our CORE meetings. It’s a critique group where you read fifteen pages then eight people tell you all the things wrong (and right) with the piece. My voice shook my first reading. And I learned, I don’t like conflict. On the page that is.

I flew to Seattle to see my only son get married and to meet my new daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Of course I had to stop at Pikes Market and get a reading from the fortuneteller in the box. Good things are coming my way.

I finished two manuscripts and started learning all I didn’t know when I started editing.

I went to Florida (first time) and attended the RWA National Convention. Being around people who live, breath and think writing for four days was amazing. I lived through my pitch session and got a request from my targeted editor. Now the submission is on her desk and out of my hands. And control.

I sold five short stories to the confessions market. Four to True Love and one to True Experience. Breaking into this market really boosted my confidence about the future of my writing and paid for the above-mentioned trip.

In and around all of that, I lived. I walked the dogs when the weather was nice. My hubby took me to the Grafton Winery and drank wine while the DJ played adult contemporary. We took a trip to Hannibal to see the Mark Twain cave. We drove to St. Genienve and saw a tiger exhibit. We went to a Red’s game and soon will be cheering on our favorite drivers at a Nationwide race.

I think this year on my birthday; I’ll set the same goal. To make this a Year of Lynn. I’m excited to think of all the adventures I’ll be able to report next year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting a Do Over

With my birthday coming up next week, I’ve been pensive, thinking about my life and what I’ve accomplished so far. I was never one of those chicks that said I want to be a doctor and then followed through… I wanted to be everything. Fashion buyer, wife, mother of twelve, lawyer, judge, social worker…

And my life has kind of followed that path. Randomly choosing jobs, not careers. Until ten years ago.

I took a class in the MFA program. I can’t remember the official title… something about learning to work in a publishing environment, but in very big words. The class really was a way to get graduate students to be journal assistants for the university’s literary journal. Main job? Read the slush pile.

I. Loved. It.

Each week we took a pile of stories and rated them for inclusion in the journal. Some, okay, most were bad. Really bad. But some stories had a glimmer that took you away from every day life. Then we discussed what worked and what we were doing on our marketing project. I learned a lot about mailing lists that semester.

I left class each week energized and feeling attached to the world. Something I’d learned to muffle during my marriage. To be happy with something besides my husband was a sin. Yet, here I was, divorced and so happy I bounced walking to my car.

Stephen King says that when you’re doing the think you’re supposed to do you act like a Geiger counter on radioactive crack. (Or something like that…paraphrasing here.)

Writing is my radioactive crack. Now why didn’t I find out that piece of information when I was in high school?

Today's picture is my new granddaugher Lily. It's her first day at school.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conflict is not picking a fight with your husband...

So today conflict is on my mind.

Yesterday my RWA Chapter hosted the funniest speaker I'd ever heard on romance, Jade Lee. I almost didn't come to this meeting. I didn't know what I'd learn from a historical romance writer whose focus is in Chinese history.

And it's a long drive.

But I packed my meeting notebook into my purse and headed out. And boy, was I glad I did.

My notes are kind of scattered, but here's a few things I learned.

1- Hot sex does not equal happy ever after. (Even though it helps - Jade did demonstrate this point with a teddy bear and a stuffed monkey. The video will be on U-tube soon...)

2- Characters have to change. AND the hero/heroine has to be the reason they change. The one has to make the other better. Think Jerry McGuire and "You complete me."

3- Characters have to have a fatal flaw. This is probably the hardest thing for me to write. I want my people to be oh so nice... but they where's the story. Where's the angst? Why would anyone read more than the opening line?

4-Save the Cat. Your main characters need to do something heroic the first time the reader meets them. Show their good side, even if it's hidden, for most of the book.


5-Build an imagery set around your characters. Jade talked about using colors, or animals, or elements. This one I'm going to have to work on some more. But it makes sense as a writer. If I know my heroine is a fire character, she's going to wear red, she's going to react before she thinks, she's going to be hotheaded and maybe stubborn. So even if I don't know what's going to happen in the scene, I know how she'll react.

So thank you Jade for explaining writer terms in a way I could infuse them immediately into my own writing. Now, I have to excuse myself... I have some characters to torture.

The picture is outside the Seattle Aquarium looking at the docks. My son assures me this is not the ocean, but it's the closest I've gotten in ten years....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time after time

Today I want to talk about time management. Or my lack of time management. I know the drill. Make a list. Prioritize the list. After reading a truck load of books and taking the coveted Franklin workshop, I know how to get things done.

So why do I always feel like I'm overwhelmed? The answer is simple. I think I can do more than I can. I can pay more bills than I have money. I can write a manuscript, edit a first draft, and develop new story ideas all at once. I can clean the house in a single day including giving the dogs a bath.

And somewhere in there, I can fit in a workout so I'll lose some weight and increase my health factor.

I am superwoman.

But I'm not.

I blame my need for perfection on growing up in the 70's. I wanted the career and the family. I knew I could do everything. And sometimes, I can. But sometimes, I wonder if I've taken on more than I can handle.

Those are the nights when kittens roam through my dreams and I'm unable to keep them all safe.

Standing in the middle of the street, I throw my hat into the air. Is Mary Tyler Moore right? We might just make it after all?
The picture today is of the hot springs where Roosevelt visited. The waters are suppose to have a healing property. And of course, there's a ghost. The original hotsprings can be found in. Okawville, Illinois.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

New Voices Contest

Stop on by the New Voices contest and take a peek at my new story.

Vote early, vote often... (grin)

Here's the link:

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Living on the other side

Today we explored our little town of Alton, Illinois. We found the confederate cemetary and the civil war cemetary. The civil war cemetary also has the Lovejoy Monument. Elijah Lovejoy was the newspaper/minister who lost three presses due to his anti-slavery editorials. Then the mob took his life to quiet him.

Our little town is also the site of the Lincoln Douglas debate. We have a monument to the Gentle Giant, the tallest man on record.

The picture on this post is all that's left of the Alton confederate prison site. The prison was a death camp for confederate soldiers, losing eight to ten inmates a day to unsanitary conditions. It's on the hill overlooking the river. The prison was closed July 7, 1865 and the prisoners transferred to Jolliet. Over the next twenty years, the prison was torn down and the stones used to build many of the houses and churches from that time. Many are thought to be haunted.

Could it be the ghosts of confederate soldiers trapped in the quarry stones?

I took lots of pictures so we'll see if a fuzzy spot shows up in any of the shots.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I'm blogging over at New Kids on the Block

The subject? Revisions, the never ending story. Or what I've learned through writing three books.

Stop on by.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Welcome back...

I guess that's a welcome back to me. I'm committing to posting once a week so check in frequently.

So, what's been up since December 2008? A lot.

I've sold four short stories to True Love and True Experience magazines. These are fun to write. I'm currently writing a Christmas story which is hard since the weather has been in the 90's plus humitity here.

I've joined RWA, joined a great chapter - MORWA, and went to my first national convention. Amazing program. Lots to do,things to learn and people to meet. I got a fan girl pic with Brenda Novak (from Sacramento, CA) - She writes romantic suspense and is a motivational guru for writers. I learned so much about surving the business from her presentations at nationals. And she's a Utah native.
The cancer thing is doing fine, thanks for asking. My doc says I get to have a well baby check next year rather than the scary oncology appointment. Yay!
I've sent a partial (three chapters and an outline/synopsis) to Harlequin American last month. This is the book I pitched at nationals. A pitch is a ten minute appointment with an editor (in this case I got two for the price of one...) where you tell them all about you, your writing background, your book, and why they should buy it. Kind of like a nerdy sorority rush on steroids.
I'm very proud of the book. It's set in the Treasure Valley. A reader from the area will recognize locations such as Meridian Speedway, Murphy, the Boise foothills, the BSU campus (Go Broncos) and maybe even the small farm where I grew up. I hope the HAR editors love the story as much as I do.
I'm working on a new romance manuscript for submission to an e-book novella. This is a shorter book (20,000 words) and is set here in St. Louis near the hospital where I spent so much time a few years ago. But the story is focused on the amazing park that is across the street. Forest Park was the sight of the 1904 World's Fair and is home to the zoo, the art and history museum, the science center, and miles of running trails. It's amazing.
What's been up with you guys?