Tag Archives: Writing Life

Getting ready for and conquering #NaNoWriMo

Getting ready for and conquering #NaNoWriMo 

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National Novel Writing Month. It’s coming around the corner, and it’s actually a thing, and they have their own website. It’s a pretty neat website and if you’re interested in writing a book in 30 days, I’d recommend checking it out and participating.

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Just to be clear, I’m not affiliated with NaNoWriMo in any way. I do think it’s cool, as long as a writer doesn’t think that’s all there is to writing a book.

A lot of different advice is out there on how to write a book in thirty days. I have written more than one book in a 30-day timeframe and that has been since my early writing days, before I heard of NaNoWriMo.

In my case, I spent an entire year writing my first book in 2000, and I’m glad I did. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote that novel as I learned, studied, and honed the craft. I intentionally spent that year developing skills that aided me in having the ability to write as quickly as I have over the years since then. I write fast and clean, and I still revise.

Fast forward 15 years and I have written almost 100 novels and novellas. My current work in progress is my 98th. I have 62 full-length novels in print and 45 novellas of all sizes in anthologies, collections, box sets, and more. I am a hybrid author and have written for St. Martin’s Press, Ellora’s Cave, and have been in anthologies with HarperCollins and other publishers. I chose to go Indie 4 years ago–best decision of my career.

One of my bestselling novels with my first publisher, a book that won a “RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award,” along with other honors, was written in 30 days–not counting revisions. That book was published as King of Hearts with Ellora’s Cave and as Taken by Passion with St. Martin’s Griffin. To be honest it needed another revision, which I gave it when the rights were reverted back to me and I republished it in early 2015. It’s a stronger book now, and even though it won the honors it did, I wish I would have given it that last revision. Maybe I just needed 12 years to think about it. 😉

It’s not easy to write a book in 30 days and you have to know that it’s not going to be your finished product. It’s a draft. Few mega-hit bestsellers were written in 30 days. I personally don’t know any, but there are a couple that make you wonder if they were written in 30 days with no revisions. 😉

Let’s get started. My post is not so much about NaNoWriMo as it is about writing  a solid draft in 30 days.

This example applies to any book, any goal, any timeframe, any month of the year. Break down your manuscript into smaller pieces to make everything more palatable:

  • What length do you want your novel to be? Example: 60,000 words (NaNoWriMo uses 50K as a goal)
  • What is your timeframe? Don’t say “November.” Consider days you may need to take away from writing. Let’s take Nov 1st to Nov. 30th = 30 days, less those you may be taking off, such as Thanksgiving. For good measure, throw in a couple of other days for the unexpected where you might be forced to be away from the computer. Life happens.
  • Break your word count down per day. Let’s say you have 27 days of the 30 to write.  Words per day to obtain your goal  of 60,000 words divided by 27 days =2222 words per day

Easy-peasy right? Here are a few of my recommendations to help you reach your 30-day goal.

–It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: you MUST exercise discipline. Sit your butt in that chair and WRITE. Writing is a discipline. People don’t become novelists if they don’t sit in their writing space and start putting down words. Hopefully in a logical manner that makes for a good book. 😉

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From what I understand, NaNoWriMo is about pantsing it–writing by the seat of your pants. I used to be a pantser. Or at least I thought I was. Years into “pantsing” and I realized that all of the storyboarding; post-it note organizing; collage designing; bullet-point brainstorming–all of it was an attempt to organize and outline my thoughts in some manner. So what do I do now? I do brief outlines. Bullet point outlines.

Plan:

I suggest that before you start, you write at the very least a brief outline of what you want to accomplish when you start writing that book. For you pantsers, it isn’t going to physically hurt to write down some ideas in a specific order. (Like I said, I was a pantser for years. I get it.) Easy one-liners written in a simplistic manner as a guide never hurt anyone.

Think of it as someone giving you directions because Siri or your GPS isn’t cooperating. (Like that never happens, right? Ha.) You call your friend who tells you “take your first left, the second right, keep going until you pass a park on the right, before you take another left, and my house is the third on the left.” There you are. SIMPLE. An itty bitty map.

Know what your beginning, middle, and end will be. Have a pretty good idea one way or another. What are a few scenes that you know need to happen to reach “The All-Important-End?” You don’t want to be staring at the screen when you need to be typing words in that once blank doc.

Start writing: 

DO NOT go over and over a scene, trying to make it perfect. This is not the time, and nothing you write will EVER be PERFECT. It is not possible to be perfect. If you are, you belong on a cloud on the other side of pearly gates wearing a golden halo. That or walking on water, take your pick.

The time for editing will be when you reach THE END! Make notes along the way. If you use the notes feature in Word, leave yourself bubbles with comments of what you need to go back and work on. And if you realize about 2/3 of the way through that you need to have something foreshadowed, like the smoking gun, leave yourself a note to fill it in later.

Sometimes I will have 50 to 100 notes to myself on things I need to go back and work in or check to make sure I didn’t forget to put it in. That’s something you can do during the revision process in December after you’ve reached “the end” of the damn book.

Notice I never say FINISH the book. You’re going to write it, speedy rough draft, and then you are going to fix it over the next few weeks.

One more time. JUST WRITE. Don’t correct. WRITE. This is not to see how fast you can write a book, it’s to teach you not to edit yourself over and over and over again. You’ll never get through a book at that rate. Nothing, nothing, is ever perfect.

Did I make that perfectly clear? 😉

Let’s say you’ve jotted down some directions that equal your idea of a brief outline. Once November 1st hits, you’re ready to write those 2222 daily words. You’ve been excited about this for weeks and it’s finally here! Your fingers fly across the keyboard and you’re on a total high. Before you know it, 2223 words are written. Woohoo!

However, when you get to those 2222 words for the day (Or whatever your daily goal is!), KEEP GOING. It’s possible the next day you may have something urgent come up with the kids, a pet, your significant other, and you’ll be glad you padded your word count for each day you write. Things are bound to come up no matter how well you plan. LIFE HAPPENS.

A good idea is to keep a notebook with you just in case life happens. If you have to take the dog to the vet because she can’t poop (true story) and you’re waiting for the vet to X-Ray and then flush out poor dog ($300 later–poor wallet) you can write a scene in your notebook.

Odds are you’re going to be sitting in a waiting room for a while. You can use that time toward making your goal. Sometimes you can get the BEST ideas when you physically put pen to paper. Then go home and type the scene into your doc.

The end of November is approaching. You’ve planned well. You’ve been ready for anything that might pop up and try to get in the way. And you type:

THE END

xnanowrimoCongratulations! Now take a day off or five and treat yourself to a pedicure, a nice dinner out, or some other treat.

Then get your ass back to work. It’s time to rewrite that mess you made in November.

Good luck!

~Cheyenne

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Angels of Darkness: Chained January 12, 2016

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Guest Star: Sandra Owens

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Hello everyone. Thank you Butterscotch Martini Girls for the invite. I’m honored to be here today. I write contemporary romantic suspense and Regency romance books, and as a romance author, I understand how important first encounters are to a story. Is there instant attraction, or do the h/h dislike each other on sight (or at least think they do)? Is the first encounter a funny one or an embarrassing one?

I will always fondly remember my first actual encounter with my husband. It went something like this…

“I ran over my coat this morning.”

I looked up from whatever I’d been doing at the time to see a tall, blue-eyed, blond man standing in front of my desk. I knew him as he worked at the same place I did, but we’d never had much contact. I will admit, though, that I had noticed him.

“You what?” I asked, not sure I’d heard him right. For opening lines, his was certainly original.

A silly grin quirked his lips, as if he amused himself. “I ran over my coat. With my car.” There was laughter in his eyes, and I really liked that. “There’re tire tracks on the back of my coat now.”

“Okaaay,” I said, biting down on my bottom lip to keep from laughing.

He put his hands on my desk and leaned toward me. “It’s a good story, but I’ll tell you the rest over dinner.”

His nearness, the low timbre of his voice, the scent of him, stole my breath. A cliché, I know, but it really did!

I’m married to that man now—have been for years—and he still makes me laugh, and he can still steal my breath when he turns those blue eyes my way, leans close, and whispers something naughty in my ear.

Although I knew him in passing before the legendary coat caper (yes, he really did run over his coat), I consider that moment our first encounter. It was the first time he made my heart go pitter-patter. It was memorable, and it changed my life.

In books, that first encounter is one of the most important scenes of the story. It is the event that will change the hero and heroine’s life! It sets the tone, and it tells us whether the hero and heroine are going to fight the attraction (because there must be attraction, else who cares about them?). Or maybe they go at it like bunnies, then some conflict or other comes along and threatens to kill any chance of a happily ever after for them.

I’ve read books were the first encounter just didn’t do it for me, and when the chemistry is missing, the story ends up being a disappointment. Then there’s those books that grab you the moment the hero and heroine set eyes on each other, whether from across a crowded ballroom, or across the baselines of a small town baseball field.

The author just got it right! You can’t wait to get to the end because even though romance means you’ll get that satisfying HEA, you just have to be sure. Wait, never mind, you don’t want the book to ever end.

Not long ago, I read two books that began with the same type of first encounter. In both stories, the hero and heroine got right to it the night they met, before they even knew each other’s names. In one, by a well-known author, I was totally turned off. It was just creepy, and set a tone for the story that I couldn’t get past.

In the second, I was blown away. I’m not usually a fan of sex with strangers in books, but the author made it work. As the book progressed, I fell in love with hero and heroine.

First encounters can be powerful whether that first meeting is humorous, or sizzling with heated looks, or sad, bringing tears to our eyes. One of my favorites from a book I read long ago and can’t remember the name of, at his first sight of the heroine, the hero thought, Here she is. That was all. Here she is. He didn’t know why the words flashed through his mind, and he promptly dismissed them as not having any meaning to him. But we knew!

In the first book of my K2 Special Services series, Crazy For Her, my hero, Logan, feels an immediate connection with a woman sitting at the table next to him and his friend. Logan’s first encounter with Dani was a here she is moment, and he recognized it as such. Yet, it didn’t seem meant to be. The time wasn’t right for them, and sometimes that’s the way it happens. Other events must occur, sometimes years must pass, and tears shed before one has their chance for that happily ever after.

In my just released book, Falling for Her, my hero is attracted to the heroine at first sight, but he isn’t happy about that. She’s the exact opposite of the kind of women he thinks he wants. Of course, we all know he’s wrong, and the fun is in seeing him figure that out.

Question: First encounters are not only critical to set the tone of the story, but they’re so much fun. Do you have a favorite first encounter story, either from a book or real life?

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Click to Purchase Falling for Her

Blurb for Falling for Her: Known to the K2 Special Services team as “Saint,” Jamie Turner lives by his own strict rules to compensate for his past sins and the two-ton boulder taking residence in his heart. He doesn’t drink or smoke. He never swears. And he only dates nice, safe women until he meets Sugar Darling, the fill-in receptionist at K2. She’s as sweet as her name, but this wild woman is definitely trouble, with something to hide. He knows he should avoid her…but can he?

Sugar isn’t hiding something—she’s hiding everything. And K2 seems like the perfect place to lie low, thanks to the big, protective guys who work there. The drop-dead-handsome Saint makes her heart race, yet he keeps his distance. When Sugar’s traumatic past rises up to haunt her again, she desperately turns to Saint for help, and he has to decide what’s more important: playing it safe or risking everything for love.

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Author Bio:  A best selling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.

Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, Crazy for Her. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.

You can sign up for her newsletter or find all the social media places to connect with her on her website:  www.sandra-owens.com

Sandra will give a signed copy of FALLING FOR HER to one lucky commenter.

Typos and Boob Blabs: The life of one wacky writer…

BMG Girl_transp_MASTER_flat_forgiftcardsHave you ever had one of those weeks where certain things follow you? Well, I’m having one of those months. Embarrassing typos seem to be stalking me!!

For those of you following any of my social media world lately, you’ve seen a TON of new stuff from the Butterscotch Martini Girls. The BMG‘s is my long time critique group, and we’ve recently changed our focus to become a promo group. We’re still a tight knit group of kick ass women, well, a few of our number still can and do literally kick some ass, the rest of us plot the destruction of the world and take our agressions out in the written word. Sort of like Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, but we have glamorous day jobs as writers…snerk!

Anyway, I digress. We’ve got a great new group logo, as you can see above, and will be unveiling our individual Butterscotch Martini Girls as the weeks roll by, so stay tuned.

As for the things that are following me – typos are stalking me like crazy this month! I’m having to read everything four or five times to make sure I’m not leaving them in my posts and my writing. ACK! And of course, my fast type and auto correct are NOT helping! I’m convinced those are dark plots to drive me more insane than I already am!! A great example is one of the new weekly activities for the BMG’s: The Boob Blab. Okay, it’s official name is the Book Blab, but I swear, no matter what I’ve tried to type this week, 90% of the time it has come out as Boob Blab so I’ve just given up and decided that’s what I’m going to call it. The BMG’s just chuckled and let me go on my insane way with it!
If you’ve never heard of the Boob Blab…er…Book Blab…it’s like a video chat on crack with some twitter feed thrown in for fun. You can go to their site and see and join gazillions of them in progress. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much!

And ours is taped so you can go back and watch the one we did on Wednesday. Our topic of the day was Worst First Dates, and they were a riot. You can check it out here – Blab.  I look sort of stoned during the whole thing, but I promise I was totally sober and not under the influence of anything harder than an iced trenta 8 pump black tea from Starbucks.

REALLY gotta work on the laptop camera angle for this next week…EEP. And might have to wear a different color shirt and actually leave enough time to put on some makeup so I don’t look like I have two black eyes for the entire chat.  Ugh…vanity – they name is Tina!

For a “fun” reference, you can see Rocky’s butt behind me on the couch. Rocky is our 18 pound Maine Coon…fluffy orange and white sweetness who likes to randomly jump into my arms while I’m writing, but decided to hang out and be in our Blab.

Rocky

So stop by the Blab and have some fun. Don’t forget to scroll down to see some of the tweets that were live tweeted during the event.  total crack up!  We’re trying to do them weekly so stay tuned for more craziness!

Now back to my typos…yes, the boob thing….which someone on Facebook thought was a bad reference to the fact that all the BMG’s are women and most of us are a bit on the well endowed Tata’s side….  Nope, just my typo curse in action.

H.D. Thompson says it’s because of Mercury being in Retrograde. I hate that shit! Bites me on the ass every time it happens!

So more about my typos…

My current Work in Progress under my Cassie Ryan pen name is My Addiction, the 2nd book in my Club Desire series. I don’t have a cover yet so can only post the My Obsession cover that released on July 21st!

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For those of you not up on what this series is about, it’s about the premier BDSM club in the Southwestern United States. It’s called Club Desire and is located in Phoenix, Arizona on the top of Camelback mountain. And there are smokin’ hot Doms and the strong subs who keep them on their toes, with some suspense to keep the blood moving – as if the hot sex doesn’t do that already.

Here’s the specific blurb if you’d like to check it out:

Running from a troubled past, Sandra Barry spent years hiding out in New York City’s BDSM scene, finding satisfaction and even a sense of community as a sub at a large dungeon. But when a stalker joins the dungeon posing as a Dom, he crosses her personal boundaries, giving her no choice but to return home to Arizona. Seeking refuge once again in the kink lifestyle, Sandra meets a sexy new Dom whose tutelage drives her wild—although there’s something familiar about him she just can’t place.

As a teenager, Brent Weston was a nerd. Now he owns the hottest dungeon in Phoenix, enjoying the power and success he’s always craved. All that’s missing is the right woman to share it with. Then one day, Sandra, his secret high school crush, walks into his club. She’s just as beautiful as he remembers. She’s also scared as hell. Brent has been waiting for this moment, and now that Sandra’s in his sights, he’ll do anything to protect her, pleasure her—and prove that he’s the only master worthy of her devotion.  You can pick it up here.

But as I’m writing My Addiction, there are obviously certain terms in my “word arsenal” that need to be what they are. My Macbook and iPhone have decided that areola will now be airline, or sometimes, Ariel. Gah! I’ve had to add these to the dictionaries, but when you’re in the “flow” of writing, it’s a PIA to stop and do that stuff. And then there’s the email I sent to someone volunteering to guest blog on the challenges of book pubic. (er…publicity).

This whole Mercury in retrograde thing needs to go away!! STAT! I have enough problems keeping the fingers in sync with the brain without my tech conspiring against me!

Tomorrow is more writing, and I’m sure more typo gaffes, but hey, life is short and sometimes you just have to say, “DGAF!” A term I learned from my son!!

Good thing Random House has amazing copyeditors!!

Happy Friday, everyone! Hopefully I’ll see you at this next week’s Boob Blab!  “Boobed” and proud!!

And if you’d like to keep up on all the craziness of the Butterscotch Martini Girls, here’s where you can sign up for our newsletter!

Tina/Cassie

4Cats of Christmas@tinagerow@britblaise

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It may not be the most beautiful tree I’ve ever had, but this one means more to me than all of those others…

 

 

 

 

We haven’t had a Christmas Tree up since 2008. In October 2009 we lost Jon’s 23-year-old kitty Katie…

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Rusty was left by himself and started mooning around the house, missing his buddy, Katie…

 

 

So we went to the pound and fell in love with our black beauty, Nox (the Goddess of the night)

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Nox was only 4 months old when we got her in December 2009, and even though she was pretty skittish because she came from a house with several crawling children, she was a normal kitten and liked to explore and climb whenever possible. So we didn’t think a Christmas tree with all its temptations would be a good thing with a 4 month old kitten in the house.

Then in November 2010 I had my brain blowout, and our house was foreclosed on in December so we moved into an apartment.  No tree that year.

And for all of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that we lost our sweet Rusty in October of this year.

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This time it was Nox’s turn to be lonely and moon around the house without Rusty. She had never been a lone cat in her entire life. And she wandered the house looking for Rusty even though she came and bumped noses with him as he passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

So Rocky came to live with us…our resident small pony…er….Maine Coon.

16.5 pounds of long-haired, purring sweetness…

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Anyway, my guys knew how much I’ve missed having a Christmas tree and decorating for Christmas so on my birthday last week they decided to pull out our artificial tree, do basic decorations and see how the cats handled it.

Armed with the spray bottle I got Rocky to stop trying to chew on the branches and Nox to stop chewing on the bows of the presents under the tree….  After a few days we added more ornaments and they’re still doing fine with it. No broken ornaments and only a few mushed presents – although nothing breakable from just this:

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Rocky likes to lie on the smaller presents under the tree. He’s adorable and he’s not really hurting anything so we just let him stay there and look cute 🙂

As for me, I’m still writing. Getting my kink on daily and trying to finish up this current WIP.  Darian just finished finals for this semester and Jon is getting some shows done before he starts vacation next week…

Thank you for joining me for the 4 Cats of Christmas!!  And I hope all of you have terrific holiday seasons, no matter which ones/what you celebrate!

Tina

A few random thoughts before I finish Galley Checks…

I’ll admit I’m a bit scattered today since my brain is fully engaged in Galley checks for Trio of Seduction, which releases on July 29th.  So, instead of a “proper” blog – you know, something witty, thought provoking or controversial…instead, I’ll give you a few random thoughts.

First – my son introduced me to a new song I like by a band called Good Charlotte.  Check it out – it’s called Where Would We Be Now.

Here’s an interesting article on Why Vampires Would Have a Population Problem

If you’re a Star Trek The Next Generation Fan & A Family Guy Fan – you MUST set your DVR’s for this Sunday night.  Check out the Trailer for the TNG episode of Family Guy.

Here’s an article on the test that can tell you if your marriage will survive.

Here you can get your very own Star Trek tribble!!

My favorite Matthew MacFadyen fan site – Darcylicious.com

My Twitter page – go to www.twitter.com and I’m at @TinaGerow

And finally – some cute animal pics 🙂

Enjoy!

Tina/Cassie

Working toward your goals

Okay, last week I posted my goals for 2008. Now it’s time for a progress report.
Goal 1. Was to drop 20+ pounds and get myself back into shape. – This is for health reasons as well as no longer fitting into my clothes. I had a body fat index reading done and was astounded when I was told I was in the “health risk” range. This did not bode well with me since heart disease runs rampant in my family. So I’ve started to change my eating habits and will start working with a trainer at the gym twice a week come Monday.
Goal 2. Submit 3 proposals a month. – I’ve written the query letter, first 3 chapters and submitted them to my critique group. (the BMG’s) Still need to do some more work on the synopsis and will then send it off to them too. Once I get their feedback I will make revisions and send off my packets.
Goal 3. Directly tied to goal 2. Get that NY publisher to notice me and my writing!
Anyway, that’s what is happening with me. Thanks for letting me share.
Ciao,
Kayla Janz

Data Loss & Other Tortures

Data Loss – two words ever author dreads hearing, right?

Well, I heard them loud and clear last night.  Check out my Tina Gerow blog for all the gory details, and then go back up your work!!

Tina/Cassie