What worked? What didn't?

NaNoWriMo 2019 ended yesterday. Was it a success? I suppose, like most things in life, it’s the perspective with which you look at it, as to the answer to the question.

The original goal for NaNoWriMo was to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

After the second weekend, I realized I was not going to make that goal. So, I reduced my goal to 30,000 words and ended the month with 30,105. At least, then it didn’t look like an epic fail. 🙂 That brought my story to 56,724 words. And I’m now in the wrap-up phase of “Jagged Feathers.”

Here’s what worked:

  1. The motivation to participate was a huge propelling factor
  2. Knowing where my story needed to go (even though I don’t outline, I knew what needed to happen)
  3. Having my characters fully developed, and what each had to hide and had to learn
  4. Finding determination to write as much as I could without verging on the edge of insanity.
  5. Having personal experience with an amputation.

What didn’t work:

  1. I had to stop multiple times and do some research (for instance, what are the residual effects of being shot with an assault rifle wearing a bullet-proof vest, where in Dallas, Texas can you buy a certain kind of ammo, Can you buy live hand grenades in Dallas, Texas, Where is a military clothing store, are there storage lockers at the bus station, etc…) – So, note to self: try and do the research ahead of time. If someone was to look at my search history, they’d probably think I was a terrorist. 🙂
  2. Family events ( I wound up keeping all five grandchildren – three one time and two the next – for several days in a row) That interfered with writing for sure.
  3. Thanksgiving holiday (no matter how much I wanted to kid myself about having all this extra time, Thanksgiving was taken up with quality family time and I don’t regret it one bit!)
  4. Going back and reading what I’d written (one of the proponents of NaNoWriMo is to just write and not worry about sentence structure, plot points, grammar or punctuation. I found that I couldn’t do that.)
  5. Even though I had NaNoWriMo Buddies, there was little communication between us, so I don’t think I quite understood that part.

Will I do it again?
I can’t say yes and I can’t say no. So, I’ll just say, “we’ll see.” 🙂

It was certainly an experience and I’m very glad I did it. At least it got me back to the story that I’d abandoned a year ago.

To everyone who reached or exceeded the 50,000 word goal, my hat is off to you! Congratulations!

My progress – or lack thereof #NaNoWriMo

So, I committed to participate in #NaNoWriMo.

Then life happened in a really big way. And my word count progress is pitiful. But, I am not giving up. Any word count is good, right?

So here’s a snippet from my WIP, “JAGGED FEATHERS”:

Nakina understood more about him than he knew. He was keeping something from her. Something big enough, that he would go to any lengths for it to remain hidden.

Her heart broke for the soldier who took on her fight without hesitation. He’d simply been trying to rebuild his own life and find some semblance of peace. Then she came along with her baggage and disrupted his entire world.

Truth be told, she was happy it was Vann Noble that found her that cold morning. Perhaps there was such a thing as fate or kismet. She couldn’t imagine that anyone else would have so willingly jumped in to rescue her. She swallowed past the lump in her throat. They had to somehow get out of this alive.

So far, my word count for the month is around 7,500, while according to NaNoWriMo, to reach my goal, I should be over 10,000. But, as I said, any progress is good progress. At least I’ve returned to the story after almost a year. 🙂

I hope everyone participating in #NaNoWriMo is having less interruptions and more writing success!

How often do you do this?

Everyone I know responds enthusiastically at the mention of getting a massage, myself included.

There is nothing more relaxing than having all the knots and kinks rubbed out of your neck and back.

But, did you know that getting regular massages increases productivity and creativity?

Whether you are writing a novel, working on a challenging project, or coming up with new creative content for a business –a massage will help. This is because one of life’s biggest stressors can come from prolonged intense focus on a particularly taxing subject. The intense focus that creative projects require can place blinders on an individual. A massage helps lift these blinders and allows ideas to formulate. Left unattended, this added stress can lead to anxiety, lack of sleep and even mental mind blocks. Mind blocks definitely prevent creative juices from running free, which in turns leaves you concerned about completing your current project, adding to your stress levels.

A relaxing massage could be the best cure known to man for writer’s block, difficulty falling to sleep and negative attitude.

It is a proven fact that a 30 minute massage can do wonders for not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

There was a time when only wealthy aristocrats could indulge in such luxury. But we are privileged to live in a time when a massage is affordable and available!

I make it a practice to go for a massage once a month. I have gotten story ideas while on the massage table. I’ve worked out sticky plot issues with my WIP while on the massage table. I’ve figured out ways to deepen my characters while on the massage table. So, I am a believer!

I am curious. How often to you treat yourself to a massage? Do you believe in the therapeutic benefits? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?

What comes first?

April kicks off two separate short story writing competitions for me. So, I started going through my folder of ideas and characters and it struck me the varied ways stories come.

It made me wonder. Which comes first for you, as an author?

The story idea?

Or the Characters?

For me, it has come both ways. For my short story, “Maggie,” the characters came first, then the story idea followed.

For “Obsessed,” the story idea came first and the characters followed.

Is there any right or wrong way? Absolutely NOT! It is exactly the same concept with songwriting. Sometimes the melody comes first and the lyrics follow. Other times, the lyrics come and the melody follows. But, on rare occasions, both the melody and lyrics come together hand-in-hand.

That’s when there is magic!

And when the magic happens, the readers feel it. Or, in the case of music, the listeners.

In the first Creative Writing class I ever took, the professor asked the question, “What does every human have in common?”

Of course, the answers were that we breathe air, we drink water, we have to eat and require sleep. He agreed with all those answers, but he said the one characteristic that every human being possesses is the innate desire to feel something. The answers to “feel what?” are as varied as there are individuals. But, the desire to feel is present in everyone in some form or fashion.

As writers, it is our job to make sure that happens with our stories.

But, I’m curious. Which comes first for you? The story idea? Or the characters? Or, like with me, does it vary?

Unsolicited Advice for Writers

I saw this in a Facebook post and thought it was so appropriate that I had to share. The author is unknown, so I can’t give proper writing credit, but it was shared on Tamara Saviano’s FB page.

unsolicited advice

1. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Do not ever, ever, ever, ever compare yourself to other artists/writers.

2. Do not talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on. This has nothing to do with family approval.


3. Do not base the success of your entire career on one project.


4. Do not stick with what you know. Get outside your comfort zone as often as possible. 


5. Value your expertise. Really.


6. Do not let money dictate what you do. 


7. Do not bow to societal pressures.


8. Do not do work just because you think your friends would love or approve.

9. Never give investors and patrons creative input. Either they believe in you or they don’t.

10. Do not set unachievable/overwhelming goals to be accomplished by tomorrow. Procrastination is a good friend to artists. You need time to dream.

I could relate to all of these, but particularly loved the ones about getting outside my comfort zone as often as possible and taking time to dream.

How about you? Did any of these resonate with you?

Writing-Marketing: The Balancing Act

I didn’t write this post, but it was such a GREAT one that I absolutely had to share. There was not a re-blog button on The Book Designer’s blog page, so I did the next best thing. I hope you get as much from this as I did.

We all struggle with this balancing act and Gila Green’s advice is golden! Please take time to visit her website and take a look around.

balancing

By Gila Green

We hear it all the time, “How can I possibly market my existing book while writing my next book?” or “I don’t like marketing. I just want to write.” But the reality is that to be successful as an author, most of us need to continually do both–marketing AND writing new books. The good news is that it is possible to do both. In today’s guest post, Gila Green offers suggestions for how to manage our time, develop a strategy and succeed—on both fronts! I think you will find what she has to say helpful.


Time is like the sweet table at a bar mitzvah; depending on your gender, age, and weight, there’s either way too much of it or never enough of it. The kids can’t believe how quickly it has been devoured and at least half the adults can’t figure out why the chocolatey temptations haven’t disappeared already.

Books are Written Between the Margins

If you’re an average writer you have a day job and writing is your second job. (I’m not even going to get into family responsibilities, that’s another post.) Balancing your time while you try to succeed in two jobs is hard enough, but what happens when your second job splits in two?

For writers who have published a novel and have to deal with the momentous task of marketing it, coupled with producing a second novel, time management becomes an enormous challenge.

It doesn’t matter if you’re setting up a Facebook account, diving into chapter two, or pitching to reviewers, part of your brain screams: you should be working on something else!

It seems equally critical to market your novel, especially in its first twelve months of release, as it is to write a new one (because everyone knows the best way to market your novel is to produce another one—more on that below–and some writers may have signed on to write a sequel or a series.)

For writers suffering from marketing-writer split, you either have three jobs or two second jobs. Either way you slice it, it’s tough to chew on without breaking your teeth or worse, losing your mind.

The situation can seem even tougher if the novel you have just released is in a different genre and/or aimed at a different age category from the novel you’re writing or vice versa. I know plenty of authors with young or middle-grade books out who working away at an adult novel. The worry over wearing two hats just turns up the heat on the writing-marketing split.

So what’s a writer to do?

Here are four ways you can succeed…

TO CONTINUE:  https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/10/the-writing-marketing-balance/

 

Canadian Gila Green is an Israel-based author, editor, and EFL teacher. Passport Control and King of the Class are among her published novels. Gila’s White Zion collection will be available in April 2019. She is also currently working on a young adult eco-fiction series with the first novel in this series, No Entry, coming out in September 2019. She has been teaching flash fiction online since 2009 at WOW-womenonwriting. Visit Gila: www.gilagreenwrites.com
This was brought to us by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2018/10/the-writing-marketing-balance/

 

Taking a break?

takeabreak

Or is it? Are you like me and feel that you have to work like a Trojan workhorse every day, day in and day out?

But what happens when we do? I can only speak from my own personal experience.

  1. Creativity all but comes to a screeching halt
  2. I find it hard to shut my brain off at night for sleep
  3. I feel exhausted all the time
  4. I get grouchy when I am not creating
  5. I get tunnel vision

Here’s the truth of it. Most of us are ambitious and anxious to write great books and get them into the hands of readers. But, no matter how much we do, there is always more to do: more writing, more marketing, more admin. A writer’s work is never done.

Writer's Work

I have one novel already written and two more in the series vaguely outlined and waiting. I fear I have failed miserably, as an author, this year. Yes, I put out several short stories and maintained my blog, but have not given much more than a glance toward my next full-length book. There’s a couple of reasons for that. I have been in this state of limbo since last year, waiting with bated breath to see if a publisher will take the first book of The White Rune Series. Guess what? I’m still waiting.

So, why couldn’t I force myself to work on the next one while I’m waiting? That would be the smart thing to do. I guess the truthful answer is I need to feel like it is worthwhile. Yes, I know. Everything we are inspired to do is worthwhile in some way or another. Maybe the better word for it is validation.

In telling Rick’s and my stories, I had passion. I was driven to get the story down and out into the hands of readers. I need to feel that burning passion again.

burning passion

I’m open to any advice. My sister tells me that if you don’t write a story, you lose it. I don’t want to lose them because they are good stories. Such a dilemma.

Then I have to ask myself this question. If the publisher that currently has the manuscript passes on it, what then?

Yes, I know I can self-publish, but I don’t have another $2,000 to $3,000 to invest with little hope of ever recouping. Since I suck at cover design and formatting, I’d have to pay for both of those services plus editing. If anyone ever said writing and publishing books is easy, they told a big lie.

So, the bottom line to all of this is that I took a break from working on the novels. Is that good? I suppose only time will tell.

How about you? Do you take breaks? Do you have books waiting to be published? Please tell me I’m not in this boat alone.

alone-in-a-boat

Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for my latest collection of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort.” I’m giving away three eBooks.

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2

This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Obsessed:

How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.

Maggie:

It is possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.

Friends Instead of Lovers:

Sometimes it’s better to remain friends instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.

#RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo REGISTRATION OPEN

The annual RRBC Writers’ Conference and Book Expo is open for registration. via REGISTER NOW! #RRBC #WCBE 

If you are an Indie Author or a Traditionally Published Author, a blogger, a reader or an aspiring writer, you will gain invaluable information by attending this Virtual Conference.

AND, you can attend in your favorite pajamas as you never leave your home. No expensive hotel bills or meals. Just a plethora of great information, ideas, and writing tips. The added bonus is getting to discover new authors! So, register today!

Register for the 3rd Annual RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo

CD Review – Sam Baker

land

CD REVIEW

SAM BAKER – LAND OF DOUBT

Independent Release

 Central Texas music artist, Sam Baker has released his fifth album, Land of Doubt, produced by Neilson Hubbard.

What you’ll hear on Land of Doubt is stunning, beautifully arranged strains of chords and melodies with lyrics deeper than the roots of an old oak tree. Baker is well-known for surviving a violent terrorist attack in Peru in 1986. He suffered some hearing loss in the explosion but has defeated all obstacles to emerge as a respected songwriter and performer.

Land of Doubt opens with simplistic yet complex guitar chords from Will Kimbrough on “Summer Wind.” I am immediately reminded of Willie Nelson’s style of intermingling guitar licks with meaningful lyrics.

“Same Kind of Blue” pays tribute to a shy young soldier named Charlie, who was sent to Viet Nam to fight the Viet Cong also known as Charlie. “It was a long way to go for a boy named Charlie/There was snakes, there was jungle, there was all kinds of gnarly/Fighting somebody everybody called Charlie/Was a mean kind of joke/Charlie fighting Charlie…”

“The Silvered Moon” is a forty-eight second instrumental that begs for candlelight and a glass of wine. A tender love song, “Margaret” is a treasure. “Love Is Patient,” says so much on such a deep level. “She said, ‘Please come home’/It’s so late/I worry/I wait/Love is Patient/Love is Kind/Love is hard/Love is blind…” I was drawn by the sad refrains of “Leave,” as it tells Faith to leave because it’s squandered a man’s trust.

More instrumentals, “Pastures Fit for Thoroughbreds” and “Song of Sunrise Birds” are incomparable music arrangements with Dan Mitchell on Trumpet.

Only clever songwriters like Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier could compose lyrics about a girl with a drug addiction, and bring “Moses in the Reeds” into it.

Another tune that grabbed my attention was “Peace Out,” a break-up tune woven so implicitly that you almost miss the message. “She’s a very nice girl/Going with the flow…Peace out/Letting me go.”

“Where Fallen Angels Go” is another exquisite instrumental that moves with an ebb and flow blending keys and strings that feature David Henry and Eamon McLoughlin.

“Land of Doubt” ends this album with a culmination of every aspect of each song rolled into one. If you’re a fan of incredibly beautiful music and deep lyrics, you are sure to love this new album from Sam Baker. Visit http://www.sambakermusic.com for more!

Sam_Baker

Land of Doubt is also available on Amazon

Watch #RWISA Write – Author Joan Curtis

     Joan Curtis

 

As a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, I am thrilled to promote outstanding authors who are also members of the exclusive RAVE Writers International Society of Authors through a blog tour that will run the entire month of August.

Today I introduce to you, Joan Curtis!

 

A Gift of Silence

By Joan C. Curtis

The man stood outside the store window, shifting from foot to foot. I’d have probably gone right by him, but as I passed, he looked me straight in the face, sending a chill up my back. Mystified, I found a place in the shadows and watched.

He wore a black golf shirt with a Nike swoosh. His black slacks were neatly pressed, but scuffs covered the toes of his dark shoes. As he paced in front of the store, as if waiting for something or someone, his left foot dragged. Maybe that was where the scuffs came from. A girl passed by him without so much as a glance. She wore flip-flops and short shorts. He turned away from her. Why look me in the face and ignore this young girl with long flowing blond hair?

After an interminable twelve minutes, he entered the store. I crept to the side window to get a closer view. A saleslady approached with a big hopeful smile. He jerked away as if he might flee, but she persisted. Probably learned that in Sales 101.

Peering inside, I could make out the blurry image of the saleslady as she crouched down to retrieve a box. While she bent, the man grabbed an item off the counter. He pocketed it so fast if I’d blinked, I’d have missed it. Gasping in surprise, I nearly collapsed into the window. So neat. So fast.

While I recovered from the shock of having witnessed a theft, the man exited the store. He hurried in the direction of downtown. Hands tucked in his pockets and his head lowered, he wove along the sidewalk, avoiding moms with kids, students with backpacks, and cyclists. I followed. What did he plan to do with his ill-gotten gains?

My friend, Rose, would give me a lecture. Why didn’t you go inside the store and raise the alarm? What were you thinking, watching, witnessing, and doing nothing? No wonder we pay so much money for our trinkets. Thieves get away with it, and it’s all because of people like you. But, I never intended to tell Rose about this. Not if I could help it.

Instead, I hastened to follow the man, avoiding other shoppers and site-seers. My sole purpose was to find out what this strange person was up to. My watch read two-fifteen. I had missed the coffee date with my cousin. She’d forgive me. I’d have to make up an excuse about traffic or something equally lame, but I couldn’t think about her now. I had to see where this man led me. My curious nature would never let me rest otherwise.

Moments later he entered the parking deck. He was going to his car. Darn! Once he got in a car, I’d lose him for sure. My Honda was parked here as well, but on the top level. With my luck, his was probably on the first level. It was impossible to imagine we’d be parked close enough for me to follow him.

He entered the elevator. The light flashed up to level 4. I raced up the stairs like a madwoman. Huffing and puffing, I reached the fourth level just as the elevator doors opened. I caught a glimpse of his black form walking to a red Kia. I made a quick turn and hightailed it up to the fifth floor to retrieve my car. Then I plowed down toward the exit, round and round, hoping, praying. Eureka! The red Kia was just in front of me, waiting to pay. The Universe was on my side.

Mr. Thief drove with caution, obeying all the traffic rules, making it easy for me to keep him in sight. Nonetheless, I stayed one car back, not wanting to risk him seeing me. Maybe he’d remember me from the street! A shiver ran through me. What would he do, this thief? Stop his car, jump out, and murder me? Absurd.

The light changed. We moved down the road. A strange thought filled my head. Had the Universe wanted me to witness this thievery? Everything seemed to be falling into place. “Don’t be stupid.” Rose would say and would add I was being melodramatic.

We turned into the parking lot for the Hermitage Nursing Home. This made no sense. Why not a pawn shop? Didn’t thieves go to shady establishments on busy street corners with flashing neon signs to hock their merchandise? Not to a nursing home. Maybe he worked here? Maybe he was some sort of klepto and couldn’t help himself? Maybe he had no intention of hocking the stolen article? He pulled into a parking place a few steps from the entrance. I chose one farther away. From my rearview mirror, I spied him getting out of the car and entering the building.

Once he disappeared, I made my way inside and approached the information desk where a girl of about twenty had her head buried in a People magazine. When she finally looked my way, her eyes filled with wonder, as if I’d dropped from the sky, “Can I help you?” she said.

“The man who just came in. He dropped a five-dollar bill in the parking lot. I ran after him, but I missed him. Do you know where he might be?”

“Oh, that’s Jerome. He’s visiting his mom. Comes every day at least once. Want me to give it to him?”

I hesitated. She blinked. “Well… I guess it won’t hurt for you to go down to room 212. It’s the last room on the right, down that corridor.” She pointed the direction.

I moseyed away as if I had all the time in the world. Once out of her view, I picked up my pace. Conversation came from room 212. Mr. Thief was talking very loudly. Apparently his mom had hearing issues.

At the door, I peered inside where Mr. Thief perched on the edge of the bed near an attractive woman with cottony white hair.

“You shouldn’t have, Jerome. I know how much this place is costing you,” the woman said.

“But, Mom, it’s your birthday. I wanted to give you a little something.”

“Just having you here is enough. But, I do like bracelets. You know how I like bracelets. Remember when your dad gave me a diamond bracelet—of course, I didn’t know it wasn’t diamonds then. It wasn’t till later. Remember? After he died and left nothing but bills and debts, I tried to sell the bracelet and found out it was worthless. I flushed it down the commode.”

“I remember, Mom. You told me that story. I wanted you to have a real diamond bracelet before… well, you know.”

She hugged him. “This is the best gift ever.”

I backed away from the room, my heart racing.

Back in my car I didn’t wait for Mr. Thief, a.k.a. Mr. Nice Son, to come out of the building.  I started the engine and drove home.

***

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author.

Joan Curtis’ #RWISA Author Page