Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 61 - Story Breaks

When I am writing I have a tendency to write continuously without taking time to separate for chapter breaks. I have gotten better about it in my recent books but I still find when I am editing there are spots that seem like a serious shift in focus which would be an obvious chapter break. It is one of the reasons the editing process takes so long for me. I have a number of things I check for but I do each one as a separate run through so I can stay fully focused.

I got to thinking about the chapter breaks today as I was watching a movie on my DVR. Most movies I watch are on DVD or in the theater but if there was one I liked and it comes on television I will record it to watch later. While I was laughing along with the comedy of my movie this morning it struck me about the timing of the commercial breaks. Of course there is a certain amount of time advertisers expect their marketing to be displayed in but it is more than eighteen minutes of a movie before they cut to commercial. The amount of time ranges and the cut off points are chosen for the viewer to want to remain for the next segment. Chapters should be the same way.

There has never been a book I read where every chapter was fourteen pages long and ended on the right page to start the chapter fresh on the left page once you turned. They do not all start with dialogue or description and there is no solid formula for creating a novel. If there was we would all be bestsellers. Instead each book is unique and when we write (or in my case edit later) we find those right times for the breaks. 

We find the times when there is the natural pause but yet still leaves the reader wanting more. Sometimes it is not obvious but when we read through the pages there will be that feeling that tells us this is the spot. Just like watching the movie on television, there is a proper time for a commercial break that doesn't feel forced or abrupt. Books have those too. It is something I am working to improve but even now as I edit and rewrite Breathe I have found spots I thought were chapter breaks before but as I read through there are spots that feel more natural. I watch the movie of my book as it plays in my mind and think if it were showing on television, where would the commercials fit in.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 60 - Real World Setbacks

Today when I woke up I finally accomplished something I have been working on for years, I lost enough weight to reach my goal of 150 pounds. I should be celebrating. When I gave up the food for my challenge this year I wanted it to help make me healthier. Then when I extended the challenge I declared I could not get the food items back until I reached that solid 150 pound goal. Today I weighed in at 149.2 pounds.

I am not celebrating for two reasons. The first is that I am honestly still not happy with the way I look and feel. I have changed the goal to lose another five pounds and tone. It is important to me that I am happy with my body because it is a basis for my confidence when I am doing anything in public, most notably my book shows. The second reason is that while I am not out for a delicious meal to enjoy having the food items back I was going to reward myself with a flurry style ice cream treat, ice cream is my favorite, I could not afford to buy it.

I have been struggling financially for a bit. It will pass and I am working on ways to fix the problem but as I tried on a shirt I never could have worn before then had to put it back because there was no way I could buy it, I did my best not to cry. The same went for my desire to buy the ice cream treat. It was small, simple, and yet it was beyond my reach. Sometimes things like that can feel much larger.

Those financial difficulties have bled into my writing life as well. I am planning a merchandise line as well as working on a new book. I am currently unable to order any copies of the book when it is finished or get samples of the merchandise. I am not even sure how I will be affording the table for the next book show I am supposed to attend. I know that we say there is no good excuse for not writing. If you are feeling things than put it in your writing. If something is on your mind, distract yourself by diving into your fictional world.

The plain truth is sometimes I am unable to do that. My depression gets the better of me and my heart shuts down to hide from the frustration. When my heart and head both go on hiatus I am left alone, adrift in the nothingness until something finally brings be back to shore. I am floating right now. I am doing my best and I know I will find my way home. Please be patient until I can. Thank you.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 59 - Almost There

Almost two months ago when Lent began (for me it was just my 46 day challenge) I decided to do more than try to give up one thing and see how it went. I originally wanted to exercise for an hour and write for an hour everyday, get a blog post up, and of course I gave up some food items. The point was to make myself healthier and instill a habit for writing that would last long after the challenge was complete.

The food I gave up included pizza, fast food (with the exception of subs, those were considered healthy enough to stay), and most importantly the junk food. Junk food is a vague term so I used it to mean any candy, chips, cookies, cake, ice cream or things like them. That part has been the most difficult. I have given up chocolate specifically before but never everything at once and ice cream is a huge temptation for me. In theory, because the challenge was over after 46 days I should have been able to have all those things again. I did break once from a emotional issue and my boyfriend brought me pizza to make me happy. The understanding was that I would add a week onto the challenge as a penalty.

I modified that deadline until May 20th because I will be competing in the Badass Dash Obstacle Course race that day so I will have earned the treat. I am also closing in quickly on my weight loss goal of getting down to 150. I took a walk through an ice cream and candy shop last night and resisted the urge to buy and eat everything in sight, because I am almost there.

Writing is the same way for me. It can be difficult to write some days. Others the words are flowing well but doing it consistently has never been my strong point. I am working to focus this same amount of energy I have used to get so far with my diet to now help me reach the next level with my books. I have four finished, three in the process and more than two dozen novels waiting patiently for me to get to them. Just like the diet, when it comes to several of my books I am almost there. I just need to concentrate. I need to walk past the ice cream and keep putting words down on paper. I know I can do it, no matter how hard some days will be. I just have to keep reminding myself how it feels to go from Almost There to Done.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 58 - Mini Tour

I read an article today from an author on a cross country book tour. First I would like to say that while the stress of the tour and constantly being on the go does sound daunting, I would still give almost anything to have that be a stress I was contending with. There were a few parts that stuck out to me and it got me thinking about how, as a small time Indie author myself, I could still rate my own version of a tour to promote my books.

One thing he mentioned was the being "on" all the time and how exhausting that was for him. To a point I can understand it. Authors are entertainers and being in front of people only raises the bar for the fan expectations. This is an area, however, that because of my personality and day job I would truly enjoy. I am an extrovert and being "on" is something that comes naturally to me. I love to talk to people. I am also a former dancer in forms like ballet, jazz, modern and others. That history of being on stage has given me a lifelong love of being a performer.

In the case of the author I was reading about, he is traditionally published and the twenty-four stop tour was arranged by his publisher. He has people that meet him at the airport and get him to and from events. His schedule is coordinated through others and he shows up, reads and signs, does his author duties of PR and promotion then heads back to his hotel to write / edit / read until he falls asleep to do it all again the next day. It is a hectic time to be sure but it is also arranged for him and the publicity is done and paid for through the publisher. What about us Indies?

We do it ourselves. We do our own marketing (true some of us have fan clubs / street teams that help us out), we book our own flights, drive our own cars, and pay for our own hotel rooms when we do shows. Most of us have to take time away from regular jobs in order to do the shows, especially a small tour type of thing. The tables are brought with us to set up and the books are ones we ordered and paid for ahead of time so we have to pray people show up to buy them. We attend shows where we pay for the right to have a table or booth then sit and wait, hoping our work stands out enough to be bought. Our version of the tour, in my humble opinion, is far more stressful than a full time, traditionally published writer traveling to promote for their publisher instead of having to do it all themselves.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 57 - Community

Not too long ago I got to do a takeover and spotlight on a page called Booksurfer Bog on Facebook. I was nervous. It had been years since I had done a takeover of any kind and I have no giveaway items so playing games wasn't something I could really do. I have no idea how to make memes like the other authors so it was just going to be me posting and asking questions, hoping someone would take pity on me and respond.

They did. It started slow but as time went on people got more involved and began responding to my questions which opened up the opportunity for discussion. It wasn't the nerve-racking experience I had anticipated but instead an introduction to a new group I could interact with. I love going to live events because I can network with other authors but this was the most welcoming online community I had found outside of the Indies in Las Vegas (a group I actually met in person first).

The most important thing I have discovered in the development of this writing community is that no one can do it alone so having that base of support can be vital. When we get together to chat about recent or up coming book shows there is always someone with insight the rest of us hadn't considered. We share new shows that others may not know about and tell each other about our upcoming releases. It is a network of sharing that leads to strengthening each of us individually as well as the group as a whole.

Having a personal team is great. I have a creative / artistic director, a manager and others that flow in and out as needed. Many authors I know have street teams, also known as fan or reader clubs, but there is nothing that compares to a group of fellow writers. We can celebrate and commiserate together in a way no one outside our world would understand. It is a group I am proud to be a part of and more importantly to support. The Indies group I belong to even went so far as to put on the charity event my partner and I headed up earlier this year. All authors were members of our group and we decided the details of the show at one of our coffee meetings. These are just a few reasons it is so important to have that connection. If you are thinking about becoming, or already are, a writer I highly recommend a writer's group so you can build that network as well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 56 - Movie In My Head

There are a number of ways I have heard authors describe their writing process. For me it is a combination of visual images and the translation of that imagery to words for others to enjoy. I see the scenes of my books playing out in my head. It is like shooting a lot of raw footage then going back to edit them together to make a cohesive movie. There are even varied versions of the scripts to get the dialogue right.

My favorite part is the ending. It is that way for both the movies in my head and the ones I watch in real life. There is nothing quite like a powerful ending that will stick with me for days after I see it. I will think about the way all the different parts of the story came together, I amy be critical of any loose ends that aren't addressed, and I will look for what may have followed for the characters. Even movies that do not have a sequel rarely end the story at the end of the movie. When you have made a connection with the characters it is easy to imagine what they may have gone on to do after the credits rolled.

In my head, the endings always play out that way. They are written the way the movies I love are filmed. In each of my books I ended with scenes that made my heart feel full and the characters fulfilled a destiny I knew they were meant for all along. Even in the ones I am working on writing or rewriting have movie style endings. Sharing Strength actually has an ending that fits with a song that, if it were made into a movie for real, I would request it to be filmed a certain way. There is a panning of a gallery showing a series of photographs that perfectly capture the hearts and personalities of the characters of the book and I wrote the scene with that song playing in my mind.

Part of the reason I write the way I do is because I want my readers to be able to see the things I see and be moved by them. By making the ideas as visual as possible I can help transport the reader into my world and let them know the characters in a way I have already introduced. Books that move me tend to be the ones I feel like I am a part of. When I am drawn in, can see what the characters see and feel for them as though I was standing next to them, I am more likely to stay up until the wee hours to keep reading and to seek out that author in the future. I do my best to be one of those kind of authors as well.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 55 - Point Of View

Back in January when I attended the writer's conference in San Diego I had an opportunity I was both thrilled and terrified to do. One part of writer's conferences and conventions is the chance to talk one on one with agents, publishers and others in the industry. I took the time to set up advanced reading appointments with two different agents in order to get feedback on a couple of my works in progress. Of course there was the hope one or both would be interested in acquiring the books they read but mostly I was looking for their suggestions to strengthen the story.

For my thriller series I received several tips that while difficult to hear (basically told me I had to scrap everything I had sent him) he gave me a good amount of information to improve what I decide to keep and how to move it forward with a better pace. He also called me out on something I think I did subconsciously. I had put in a suspenseful scene right at the beginning that has a very benign outcome and he said he would have stopped reading right there. It was drama for the sake of drama, not to move the story forward. He was right. He also told me that if I am going to make a character "lose it" and make people wonder about their mental state I need to go over the top. You can always pull back but if a character is too subtle it is difficult to make them seem crazy later. The last piece of advice was that real life actions such as being clumsy and dropping things repeatedly or being able to sleep right after a traumatic event do not seem realistic in books.

The second book I submitted was Sharing Strength. The agent I met with for that book had some similar things to say but the two things she focused on were dialogue (I suck at dialogue) and point of view. For the dialogue, which the first agent mentioned as well, she told me to go through the scenes either alone or if possible with another person to read the dialogue out loud. When I hear the words I will be able to hear the parts that either sound scripted or just off for the situation. Once I identify the parts that sound wrong, do it again so that I can hear what natural speech would sound like. Try to use a voice recorder to capture the two different conversations so I can hear the difference. Eventually it should help to start writing speech more naturally from the beginning.

The point of view part was an eye opener. The part I had sent to her was the opening chapter and the beginning of the second one. The first one has all of the six main characters in the book all together. Because they are all in the scene the point of view jumps from person to person which I did not realize but does one of two things to the reader. It can either confuse them by making them have to guess which character is talking or it can create a huge distance between the reader and the story, making it difficult to care. I had wanted a surface overview but it was so far away that she found herself not feeling anything for the characters at all. She told me to pick one character for each chapter (two at the most) and show that entire chapter from their view point. For the scenes when they are all together I should pick one character to be in charge of those so the reader has a constant. Then name the chapters after the characters that are in charge of those scenes.

As I go through and rewrite all of my books I am doing my best to keep these tricks in mind. For most books the point of view part isn't as difficult because I only have one or two main characters but being as clear as possible is definitely something I am keeping in mind. The dialogue will come once I finish the editing process or get to scenes with a large part as speech. It is incredible what we learn just from a few minutes of feedback with industry professionals that can help move our work forward.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 54 - Saying Goodbye

Sometimes it is a character we have grown to love that we have to kill off or the series is finished. Occasionally it is a favorite author that either becomes ill or sadly passes away. Then there are times when for one reason or another we are forced to step away from a project that was so connected to us it touched our heart and soul. I have experienced all of those but the walking away from my own passionate project is by far the most painful.

I have killed characters for many reasons depending on the book or series. Not all of them deserved to die and some it was agonizing to have to do it. It was a matter of what was needed to move the story forward and fulfill their destiny. I cried for them. I cried as I killed them and in one case I closed my computer and mourned for nearly a week because of how much it tugged at my heart.

A few years ago I saw a post online about one of my favorite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett. He had succumbed to Alzheimer's and passed away. I own his entire Discworld series and have loved his humorous satyrical style for many years. I joined together with writers and readers from around the world to mourn the loss of an icon and bring awareness to a disease that affects so many including those in our literary world.

Several weeks ago I had to make the difficult decision to step away from and hand over my animal anthology charity series Rescue Me. I started by speaking with those closest to me, my boyfriend and my mom (also my manager). They both comforted me as I agonized over the choice but ultimately I decided that walking away and letting someone else take over while I focus on hands on volunteering and local shelters was the better move for everyone. Next I contacted my other half from Rock & Roll Saved My Soul charity publishing to let her know my decision. She agreed to take over through her team so that I could step away.

The announcement was made public to the team a few days later. I have put off the last two parts which were sending the official message to the contributors and officially deleting the Facebook page I had created for the series. Today was the day I thought I had steeled my heart enough to do it. I emailed the contributors with a message of thanks and who to follow up with in the future if they wished to continue with the project. I then sat and stared at my computer for almost twenty minutes before I could confirm the deletion of the page that has meant so much to me for three years. I saved the pictures I had uploaded and finally confirmed the deletion.

This one is going to stick with me for awhile. I may have to try and hide in my fictional world for the next day or two until my head, heart and soul have a chance to come to terms with how much it hurt to say goodbye.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 53 - Welcome Packet

I saw a great post by a fellow author yesterday talking about things people do in the writing world that either are or are not forgivable mistakes. As soon as I saw it I read through all of the comments. Most of the things mentioned were the commonsense like not using other people's posts to promote your work, or ranting about low book sales. You should never bully or respond to a negative critique, just let it go. Of course it was mentioned that nothing on the internet is private so be careful what you share. None of this is new information but a good refresher never hurt anyone.

I do see people that share their success stories as well. They talk about having a great month of sales or how they just signed a new contract with a publisher. Yes, I admit it, the immediate reaction is jealousy. Once that brief, unflattering moment passes I am able to be happy for those that shared the news. I want to know how they did it though, and that is where I wish there was a manual or welcome packet.

For the record, I am clueless when it comes to photoshop or any sort of graphic art work. I do not know how to create teasers or do promos and have no idea who to run specials or sales on Amazon. I once figured out how to do a giveaway on Goodreads and there were nearly five hundred people that entered for a signed copy of Survivor but the person that won is the only one that got it. No one else decided it was actually worth buying. I know I need to learn how to do these things but I honestly don't have any idea where to even start. Online promotions is something I am terrible at.

When I get feeling down about the fact I have no trackable sales through online promotions, I go to book shows and generally do decently well. I see other authors with more books, wonderful swag, and better online sales that will sit at a live show and people watch because they barely have anyone buying from them. At the same time I seem to have people talking and buying from me regularly. What one person is good at may not be a strength for the person sitting next door. With the welcome packet should come a list of classes. We can learn from one another so we can all build better sales and reputations. Most of the Don'ts in the book world really are commonsense but it is the Do's and more importantly the How To's I am interested in.

Side Note - I was not always strong in person with sales. I asked many authors I know (see, learning from each other can work) and I read a great book called Working The Table by my friend Jeffrey Cook and his coauthor Lee French. I high recommend it for those like me that do in person events!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 52 - Emotional Connection

Have you ever read a book that did not capture your emotions? One that may have a creative setting and a colorful cover but you didn't feel as though you and the main character were connected? How well did that go over in the end? Did you even reach the end? For me when I am reading a book I need to feel connected with the characters, at least to some extent, in order to get into the story. I don't mean that I have to feel as though I have walked a mile in the character's shoes I just have to feel something so I am rooting for the characters to complete their mission, fall in love, or save the world. Whatever it is they are trying to achieve, I have to feel like I am a part of it so I can be satisfied when they reach that target.

It was discussed recently that I am struggling with Breathe because I don't have that heartache, emotional side to the story. Never Give Up was written following an accident that did destroy my ability to dance the way I used to and Survivor is a based on true events book about combating domestic violence. Both made me bawl like a baby at one point or another. Breathe has never made me cry. However my Voices books, Syn books and Casino Murder books don't make me cry but I have still enjoyed writing those so I don't believe it is purely a lack of emotion.

Those books were incredible to write because they were an escape. They flowed well. The words came easily and when I was writing I wanted my fingers to move faster so I could find out what was happening next. it was like being the reader and writer at the same time. I have experienced it over and over again as I have written the first two Voices books and the first book in the Syn series. Even Sharing Strength had moments where I couldn't stop writing even if I wanted to. I had to know what came next.

Breathe and Chocolate Covered Cherries have never had that type of response from me. I have wanted to finish both of those books for a number of years and I am excited to get to the Chapter 5 level in Breathe because there are some great rewrite elements I am hoping will spark that can't put it down side of me but at the moment it is still the literary version of pulling teeth. Why can't my characters just behave themselves and do what I tell them to do so we could move forward? Characters are like ill-behaving children that never get out of your head.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 51 - Follow Up

I had intended to write about something else today but there was a tremendous response over the course of social media as well as in person to my post from yesterday. I was at a complete loss when I had the conversation about why I did not fit certain stereotypes so in his eyes I could not be a dealer. My faith in humanity somewhat restored by those that stood up and joined in my frustration I wanted to follow up. I would also like to thank those that took the time to reach out and let me know they are with me not only in spirit but also through shared experiences or similar misunderstandings.

Unfortunately that was not the first time I have come across someone with that type of mentality. I am sure it will not be the last either. I have attended book shows in the past or set up at a craft show event with my author table and people ask me if I am the model for the author or if I am a reader waiting for the author to return. Both are frustrating questions to say the least. While I am flattered that I could be mistaken for a cover model in any capacity (though if I were ever put next to a real one I doubt that mistake would be made) I struggle to believe people cannot see me as an author. I have even gotten to the point when I attend shows that I will agonize over outfits and accessories in order to look more "author like".

KM Weiland, JK Rowling, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Janet Ivanovich just a few names of female authors that are not retirees writing about cooking and gardening. They are not fat, old, unattractive women writing romance novels because they can't find a man of their own. They are successful authors and women to be admired. I know I didn't list any male authors, and while I have been inspired by many including Stephen King, RL Stine, Terry Pratchet and Edgar Allan Poe, the statement my coworker made allowed for men to be authors making my irritation about women writers like myself.

One of the many things that makes the writing world, and indeed all of life, so interesting is the fact we come from many diverse backgrounds. We have our own experiences and world views. We write with biases and passions unique to ourselves while also reaching out and finding others we may never have known share those same ideas. If we all fit into some perfect, stereotypical bubble things would be much less fun. I am proud to break the mold and I thank those that have stepped outside the box, whether in writing or any or aspect of their lives, for helping prove we never have to be who someone else thinks we should be. We can choose to follow our own paths and make our dreams come true.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 50 - Not Who You Say I Am

Yesterday I was working at my day job when a new member of my department stopped me in the hallway near our break room. He asked if I was a writer because he had heard I was. I told him yes, I write. I have a few books published and am working on a few more at the moment. He gave me a funny look and stepped back as though he were studying me. After a minute of being scrutinized he shrugged and said he didn't believe me. I told him that was fine, he didn't have to. I knew I was a writer and those that had my books, including a few other dealers could happily attest to the fact.

I started to walk away when I heard him speak up behind me. He said I couldn't be because I wasn't the right kind of person to be a writer. That got my attention. I asked him what kind of person a writer was then. He said either smart men, retirees with nothing better to do than write cookbooks or gardening manuals, teenagers with delusional personalities and ugly women. I don't know where to start on my being offended. Women are just as intelligent as men so the gender thing should never be an issue. There is no age limit or requirement to write. Many people that a retired do write but not just about gardening or cooking. I know several retirees with much more active lives than I have. I think the most irritating one was the ugly women part.

Being pretty does not automatically make you dumb. Being a writer does not mean you are unattractive. I know women that could grace the runways of Milan, are college educated, write books and happen to be introverts just because that is their personality. Some are extroverts like me. I know people of all ages, genders and backgrounds that enjoy the writing world as much as I do without letting what they look like or appear to be limit them in any way. I was baffled that he would not only say it out loud but even think that way.

I understand there are stereotypes about many professions but most are not true. Even if there are those that may fall into a stereotypical category from time to time it does not mean they are the rule of that profession. I break the mold in almost everything I do but that is just who I am. Please if you are under the impression that someone has to look, think or act a certain way to do anything, take a moment, look around and think again. We are not always who and what you think we are.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 49 - What Would You Do

There was a post on Facebook recently that posed the question of what would you do to get better at writing if money was not a concern. There were many people that said they would buy or rent a place to go and write as a retreat either permanently or for the summer. I can understand that desire. It is always nice to get away. For me however, I love traveling to much it would serve more as a distraction than an encouragement to write. I need to stay in my comfortable world and get better at the self discipline and everyday writing habit, not run off to some beautiful, exotic land I will just want to explore.

Another thing I saw was people wanting to buy more books on the craft. Again I cannot say I would not want them. I, personally, have more than a dozen books on way to improve my writing. I love them and use them often as I move through the writing process with each new project. I also know that if I spend all of my time reading ways to get better at writing I am not, in fact, writing at all. So I need to find a balance. At the moment that means no more new books on the craft. Classes are the same way. I can either go and learn about something that works for someone else or I can keep practicing on my own in order to get better myself.

My response was that I would attend more conferences and conventions. They are in a way, a combination of the ideas presented before. They involve a very temporary getaway while also allowing me to learn from others either through books or sessions. For me though, it is more about the networking. Getting the chance to shake hands and have a drink with someone in the industry you may not have had the opportunity to speak with outside of that setting can be incredible. Having the chance to walk up to someone that you admire their work is exhilarating while asking an agent or publisher point blank what you can do to catch their attention with a query or pitch in something that money can't buy anyway.

I am a social creature by nature so of course having the time to spend getting to know other people and speak to them would be my first choice but the networking is invaluable. i hope someday to be comfortable enough financially to take part in more events like writer's conferences so I can truly see if I was right to choose that as what I would do.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 48 - What Now

Yesterday was Easter. For those like myself that either do something for the duration or give something up for Lent, Easter is the day we get to be free of the commitment. I had a bad day where even though I had given up pizza, fast food, and junk food, I did have some pizza and decided to extend the challenge as a result. I moved the deadline for the food part of this challenge to May 20th in order to encourage me to train for my next challenge which happens to be a physical one. I will be completing the Badass Dash obstacle course right here in Las Vegas.

In order to get ready I have to maintain the diet part of my now self-imposed challenge while incorporating the training aspect of exercise. I will be adding in classes, cardio and strength, to my everyday life in order to help push forward. That addition got me thinking about writing as well. I managed to stay on target with only two days off for my blog throughout the days of Lent. I acknowledged those days when they happened and jumped right back in the next day. I would like to maintain that while adding to my writing life as I am with my fitness level.

Along with watching what I eat and getting my lazy but to the gym I am focusing on my writing. I will be making sure to post on my blog daily as I have before but I also have daily and weekly goals to make sure I reach the deadline of publishing Breathe in time for my next book show. I have additional goals but I need to do things as a process so I do not get overwhelmed. It has been known to happen. Once I get into the swing of things and am making progress consistently I will be coming up with the rewards system I wrote about a month or two ago.

For my fitness and diet stuff I have already worked it out that if I can maintain my workouts and food control throughout the week I will be able to eat the treats I so enjoy on Sundays without guilt. For writing I am not sure what I will do yet but I am looking forward to making daily writing and weekly word count goals more of a habit instead of a dream. I will be continuing to share what day I am on in my personal challenge of life for the time being until I have successfully reached the level I am aiming to achieve. How do you keep yourself moving forward?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 47 - What Not To Do

A few days ago I was watching an old episode of America's Next Top Model. It is not something I watch often but sometimes I find it entertaining. The episode on at the time was one that held a challenge for the girls to grab clothes off the racks to put together an outfit that showed their personal style. Once each of the girls had dressed the professional stylists went to each one to show them things they believed the girl had done wrong. Every girl had at least a few mistakes causing them to have to trade items with the other girls. The results were undeniably better. By having them try on their own they had a starting point for ways to help them improve.

Writing is exactly the same way. We create that first draft for ourselves; something Stephen King refers to as writing with the door shut. Once that first version is done we begin editing, rewriting, and revising before opening the door for everyone to see. I have entered the about to open the door stage but the editing and revising are taking significantly longer than I had expected. I have been talking about Breathe for quite some time as I began the current bout of fighting with this constantly frustrating book.

Today as I rode on the back of my boyfriend's motorcycle I was distracting myself from my fear by focusing on my book. I am terrified of motorcycles and so when I ride along I let my mind wander. I hide in the fictional worlds I create more often than not and today it was Breathe. I have been working for years off and on to solve the problems in that book but I realized today what has been wrong all along. The clothing fit but the ensembles were all wrong. The characters got through the story but somehow the parts never quite went together the way they should.

As I rode along through the mountains and beautiful desert landscape I opened up to the characters to find out what they truly wanted to do, how they actually fit together and where the story was meant to go. I was surprised by what I learned. I had originally printed out the most recent version of Breathe and began editing with my powerful red pen of judgement. I got through the first hundred pages of the binder but when I started using that as a guide when back to the computer I just felt things still weren't right. I now know I have to keep the very basic information because the settings and characters will remain but the rest is going to be a scrap job. I will be starting from scratch to create the story the characters have now told me they belong in. I wrote the first several version so I could see what not to do. Now I can move forward along the right path.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 46 - Changing Everything

This morning I got a message from my boyfriend showing me a mobile home out in Boulder City, NV. Last night I was editing and came to a few realizations that blew the story wide open. What do those two things have in common? They are things that if I were to commit to, everything would change. Sometimes change is good, other times it can be terrifying. The question is whether or not you have the courage to jump in feet first when the opportunity arises.

For the house move I would be moving away from my friends that live not only within the city of Las Vegas but also in my very neighborhood. My immediate reaction is that of a child not wanting to leave his friends and find a new school. Then comes the more logistical opposition. One of the vehicles I drive is a large, gas-guzzling truck and on the best of days with traffic the commute would be close to an hour. Filling the vehicle would cost close to four hundred a month at least. I love going downtown to Fremont to relax, heading to coffee shops nearby to write with fellow authors and have classes at the gym five miles away with instructors I adore. All of that would be gone if we moved so far away because of cost and inconvenience. It would however be a significant savings financially on the house and car so we could afford other things more easily. I have since proposed looking into something similar but closer.

As for the editing, things are coming to a point where I have to make a serious decision. Breathe has been written, edited, rewritten (3 times) and edited again. Now I am rewriting again because after six years of it staring at me I still do not like it. I love some of the characters but there have been aspects that just shouted at me that something wasn't right. Collusion among characters that never meshed well, personality switches that happened abruptly and random characters that did nothing but confuse the plot. I have loved my bad girl with a heart of gold though I always wished she held onto the bad girl part a little more. Yesterday as I was reading through I had that moment with her that writers love. That moment when you can almost reach out and feel the connection. You learn something, or many things, about a character and those things can open your eyes in a whole new way.

There were things I had written way back in the first draft that as I go through them now I can see how much more there is to the story. Kelsey Matthews is much deeper than I thought. There are elements of what she wanted and her desperation that predate the book so there is background that needs to be sprinkled in. I figured out why one situation wasn't working and how to fix it though there is a scene that will have to be completely redone in order to mend that particular story fence. But for the first time in years I am excited to work on the book with her again. I am thrilled to see where she is taking me and to get to the end so my betas can finally get there hands on it. The only problem is that giving in to this new realization would mean abandoning all of the work I have already done because almost everything is going to change.

I am not sure what to do about moving, I love my house. I am not sure I am ready to commit to such a drastic storyline change but clearly what I have isn't working. No matter what I do moving forward things will need to change. It is just a matter of finding a compromise that will work for everyone.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 45 - After The Challenge

Every year I pick something to give up for the duration of Lent. To clarify, I am not Catholic. I am not even Christian in the sense that I do not follow an organized religion. I am spiritual but have always believed more in a one on one relationship with a higher power as opposed to attending services. I simply use the 40 (46) days of Lent as a challenge to improve some aspect of my life I feel I have been lacking in leading up to it. This year I attempted, and failed, to work on three areas simultaneously.

The first area I badly needed to work on was my exercise. I have a very on again, off again relationship with the gym. I love the classes but am a world class procrastinator so I have a tendency to find a way to not attend them. Even classes such as Zumba that always make me happy, or kettle bells / body pump that are so satisfying. I am easily able to talk myself out of going. I pulled out my step machine I have at the house but have only managed to get on it a few times. Again, I feel great when I get done but I am exceedingly lazy. I also get sick easily and parlay illness into further laziness. I am aware of the issue but have yet to fix it.

The second area is, of course, my writing. I want to be consistent on my blogging. I want to complete more writing projects. I need to edit at least four books plus read several novels in the genre I will be tackling next. I have managed to create a timeline of when I would like to accomplish these different aspects of my writing life. In fact the plan takes me all the way into 2020. I have an entire list of books to read for research, ones for my personal reading challenge to keep me well rounded and the ones I need to draft / edit / rewrite / beta / submit / publish. The first of my books in this list is Breathe which I have begun editing and revising but I could be so much further into it if I were able to stay more focused. As for my reading challenge, I have read half a dozen books but have over forty left plus the research and craft improvement books. Needless to say, I am behind. The only part I have managed to improve to a level I am happy with is this, my blog.

The last area is my diet. I have struggled with my weight for well over a decade. At one point I wouldn't look in the mirror or go near a scale because just living was a depressing time let alone confirmation of the level I had allowed myself to reach. I have since made great strides and came down from, lets just say WELL above the two hundred mark, to a semi respectable one hundred sixty eight. Still not a healthy weight but far more acceptable in the long run. My goal has always been between a hundred and forty-five to a hundred and fifty though. Eating is my biggest battle since I fight portion control and type of food. I have made this part my biggest focus for the challenge and managed to drop down to one hundred fifty-two as of this morning. But now comes the fun part, moving forward.

The challenge technically ends at midnight tomorrow night. At that point I would be allowed to eat anything, do or not do anything and have no regrets. I am aiming a little higher however. I have enjoyed getting back to blogging almost everyday. I missed a few but did my best to stay on track. The diet has made me feel immeasurably better so I would like to continue that as well. Now I just need to find a way to incorporate the rest of the challenge into my daily life. I need to set aside time to workout, and then follow through with it. I also need to find the deadlines I created for my writing and editing then break the work down to manageable milestones so I can keep myself on target.

I took on too much and will now have to adjust but I think, as in anything we do in life, it is about accepting setbacks and working around them. You will rarely be completely successful on the first try. Instead when you fall back you learn, readjust and begin moving forward again. Sometimes when we take on things like this we only see the short term. I am now working to move on to the bigger picture and looking forward to finding new ways to make things happen and share them with all of you.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Day 44 - Crunching The Numbers

Due to my unfortunate but strong ability to do math, I am aware of the fact that my everyday bills seem to currently be meeting or exceeding my current income. I checked the numbers over and over again but they keep coming out the same, I'm broke. I understand there is an ebb and flow in my business, not the being an author though I can imagine there are similar times there as well, but in my day job in the casino. People think because Las Vegas is such a tourist destination and summer is the time for vacations galore, we must always be busy. In fact summer is quite slow for dealers.

Most of our bigger conventions come during the autumn and winter when families are home and schools are in session. Those that are visiting over the summer come to party, play in the pool or shop out in the sun. Gambling is rare over the summer months leaving dealers lighter in the paycheck than the rest of the year. As it would happen we also work less days during that slow time. It is understandable but irritating. We work less days, make less money on the days we do get to work and icing on the cake, those are the months our water and electric bills like to skyrocket.

With Authorpalooza happening last weekend I have been inspired to keep pushing forward on my books and have been looking for additional book shows to attend. It is a great plan but comes back to the money aspect. In order to attend shows, order copies of Breathe, assuming I ever finish it and get it ready, or purchasing any of the merchandise I would like to sell to gauge interest in other items at shows I would need to invest close to seven hundred dollars for just one show. True, that would cover the table, books, merchandise, hotel room, food and gas. It is nearly impossible to think I will have any chance of making that money back anytime soon though.

I am sure I could sell a certain number of shirts or other merchandise items. Obviously I hope I could sell a decent amount of books but the real question I have to answer is would the initial investment be worth it. The second, and almost just as important question, can I even afford to make the initial purchases. Third, could nearly tie the other questions, am I really going to be able to finish Breathe in time. There is no question I would like to be able to test how well my merchandise could sell and if the new book as any appeal. The show is a big one with great potential. I just need to find a way to crunch the numbers, bending them until they come out in my favor.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Day 43 - Under Pressure

In 2015 I released my novella Survivor. I had been planning the release party at the same time I was supposed to be writing the story but the planning was taking priority and I eventually realized I was tremendously behind. It put a huge amount of pressure on me but I have mentioned before that I tend to thrive under that kind of pressure. I wrote off and on for the next two weeks, taking advantage of every day off from work. I managed to continue the planning but for those two weeks everything outside the creation of Survivor took a far back seat.

I had to finish the book because the event I was planning was specifically for that book. When you say "I really want to finish the book by next month" or something along those lines it can be easy to also make an excuse that life got in the way or the story just wasn't flowing. Other projects may have come along to distract and the deadline just needs to be pushed back a bit. It is a slippery slope though and can make you end up with half a dozen projects going simultaneously without ever finishing anything.

I have three projects currently that are fighting for the top priority spot and I am working to find a deadline I would have to abide by in order to keep me on track. The first book I am doing my best to complete is the book the agents at the conference asked for a few months ago. I am having fun writing the stories but also running out of the funny moments to share making the last push more difficult. The second is launching my merchandise line that is waiting on a trademark right now so I can create the t-shirts, bookmarks and coffee mugs along with other items good for writers and those that love them. The last is the editing and rewrites on my book Breathe. I have struggled to make any real progress even though I have figured out several of my concerns and ways to fix them.

I just need an event to release the book and sell my merchandise in order to force me to complete all of the projects I have been working on. Right now I am considering the Indie Addicts in LA show coming up on July 1st of this year. If I sign up for the show and announce my book would be there along with samples of the shirts and other merchandise it would force me to follow through. It might just be the kick in the pants I obviously need.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Day 42 - Original Ideas

I saw a post by the wonderful KM Weiland that said "You know you're a writer google your book's title to see if anyone else came up with it first". I have never googled a book title because I know there are some titles that have been used before. When looking at books online I tend to pay more attention to the book covers to make sure that mine don't look the same when I am ready to publish.

The thought of checking if anyone else came up with an idea first reminded me of other things as well. I have recently been in the process of learning about copyrights and trademarks for different books and slogans. Most of the authors I know have some form of copyright on their books or at least book one in a series in order to protect characters or created worlds. Because my books are realistic fiction and set in places like Chicago I have a minimum of copyright but nothing specific on character names.

Because I am planning a line of merchandise I have been looking into trademarks and have sadly discovered that, while it is a good idea to be protected so no one else can take your idea, it is an extremely expensive endeavor. Now I am doing my best to figure out how to raise the money to get the trademark so I can create the shirts, mugs, bookmarks, etc. There has been the suggestion of borrowing the money to get the trademark but I have also considered having a limited amount of the merchandise made and ordered, then selling it at a book show to see how it does and if it sells well then I can use the money to help pay for the trademark fee.

There are so many people out there creating ideas. Yes, there are times they will be similar but there is another quote that says "Give a hundred authors the same idea...You will end up with a hundred different stories". We are creative people but we all have our own ways of doing things, our own perspectives and our own biases. We are not in competition with one another. We are all promoters of our original ideas and are just doing our best to make our creations as visible as possible in this massive writing world.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Day 41 - Letting Go

Today I made an announcement. My charity series Rescue Me - Animal Anthology is over. I published two books with plans originally for three more and who knows what could have happened after that. Each book was set up to donate to a different charity based on their theme and I personally had contacts with each organization. I was so proud to create the series and even happier whenever we published a book.

When I published the first book there was an immediate concern from one of the contributors that required her story be removed. It turns out when they submitted the story they did not have the right to use it. They signed a waiver saying they did but the owner of the dog was threatening them so I had to remove the story. It was frustrating but I understood the owner's point of view. Once that issue was resolved I looked forward to promoting the book and raising money and awareness for our charity. It wasn't long until another problem arose.

A second contributor from the book suddenly had a problem. It wasn't the inclusion of their story or anything to do with the dog. They were mad at me. The dog was named after a celebrity and I had the opportunity to meet her. Because the family wasn't able to afford a trip all the way to Las Vegas and tickets to the event, something for a family that size would have been well over a thousand dollars, I found a way to let that celebrity know about the love the children of my contributor had for her. We recorded a video of her saying hello and expressing her appreciation for their support. I was so excited to share it with the family. Instead of being happy though they accused me of rubbing it in their face that they could;t go and blamed me saying I should have paid for them to make the trip. I was shocked.

It took a good deal of time to get past that. I did not publish the second book, The Feline Edition, until just before Christmas last year. Within a week I had a contributor contact me accusing me of stealing their story. I instantly emailed them back with the original submission to show they had indeed sent it to me with permission to include it in the book. Then they attacked me for working with charities outside my local area. For the record I volunteer hands on and participate in several fundraisers in person within greater Las Vegas. I have many friends in the rescue community that see me at least monthly at events.

I did my best to defend myself and my books. I spoke about why I had chosen the groups I did but they were relentless and even brought legal action against me. Word of that made the family that created he problems in the first book step forward to bring a lawsuit against the charity for the book they were a part of, accusing them of terrible and completely unfounded things. The legal issues will abate. The people with too much time will find someone else to torture but for me this is the end of the line. I am emotionally drained and cannot put my heart through the drama that the series became. It is being handed over to a group I fully support Rock & Roll Saved My Soul. They will revise, relaunch and be in control from now on as I step back. I will regroup and find a way I can be more helpful here at home. I am heartbroken but sometimes the best way to move forward is to simply move on and let go.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Day 39 & 40 - Authorpalooza

Ok blogger world, I know I missed you yesterday, but I promise I have a good reason. Yesterday was the annual Authorpalooza book show. This was the second year the show was put on and it was greatly improved from the previous show. It is all about learning which both the people that put the show together and I as an author were able to do.

For the show it was a tremendous growth from the first year. When I attended the Vegas Valley book Festival in October of 2015 there was a gentleman that came around inquiring about interest for a summer show in Mesquite Nevada. I said I was interested and gave him my card but was truly shocked when I received an email saying the show was moving forward. When I looked at the details I noticed it was being held in a room that turned out to be part of the dining area for the buffet of a small casino in Mesquite. They were holding the event from noon to five on a Wednesday near the end of June.

It was understandably slow. This year, after much discussion, it was moved to earlier in the year to have more of the seasonal residents still in town and set for a banquet room at the resort. The time was the same, running from noon to five, however it was held on a Saturday allowing once again for more people to come. The turn out was more than double. There was also a huge advertising push made by the casino and resort to get people to come. Once they arrived there were raffle prizes to win but they had to purchase a book in order to get a raffle ticket. That was helpful to encourage people to buy books and support the authors.

When I arrived last year with my boxes of books and my small table decorations I was thrilled. I felt like I was fully prepared to go in, set up and be right on pace with the other authors there. I was wrong. I looked around at the banners, signs, newsletter advertisements and table setups. I was woefully behind. This year I had a better display, I now have a sign and banner that are branded like my business cards. I have launched my website and have learned to be more social with the readers as they browse. I sold books both years and managed to improve this year significantly. I am already looking for more shows to continue honing my skills while also planning for next year at one of my favorite events, Authorpalooza!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Day 38 - Captured By The Cover

For those like me that shouldn't be allowed to go to book stores, or even book aisles at department stores without supervision, they will understand the power of a great book cover. It can stop you in your tracks. It can make you change the entire plan of your day simply by catching your eye. More than once I have been in the process of checking items off my to do list when a chance encounter with a book cover I couldn't resist changed my plans to hot cocoa, pjs and reading for the rest of the afternoon. I even ordered a book recently off amazon after seeing the cover pop up on an ad through Facebook. There was just something about it.

As authors we strive for a cover that can capture the imagination in that way. It should relay enough information that it ties to the story in someway but not so much as to give away any pertinent information. It can be like walking a fine line to hold a balance with your reader. Cover art may seem like an after thought but it can be one of the greatest marketing tools an author has when selling their book.

I have struggled in the past, and sadly with a few current projects as well, with coming up with cover designs that speak to me. My Syn series I have known at least elements of the covers for longer than I have been writing the books but for Breathe which I have been working on through three and a half edits, I have no idea what to do for the cover. I am still searching for that moment while writing that I can see the scene and it stays with me.

The same can be said for my Voices series. I know the genre. I can explain the premise of the books but I have no idea what to put as the cover art. However the girls of the Syn series have been whispering in my ear from the beginning. Covers move us, they are the picture worth a hundred thousand words. I am not good with graphics but I am sure that as I continue working I can improve. It is just frustrating to think how someone can be creative enough to pull an entire novel out of thin air but unable to find that picture that speaks to them about the story. It makes me wonder, when it comes to covers, what is it that captures our imagination.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Day 37 - Finding Something To Laugh About

I write books in a number of different genres. I read an even wider variety. There is a book written by a friend of mine that combines the imaginative world of fantasy with humor in a way I would never have been able to believe if I hadn't read it myself. It is satirical, hilarious and in touch with the world of a writer so aptly even those that struggle to write an email would understand the fun and frustrations of a novelist simply by reading her book.

The book is called Veneri Verbum and I love it. I have read it and the sequel Beta Beware many times, laughing my way through every time. There is something therapeutic about laughing along with a character, or even just laughing in general. Some of my favorite activities involve humor and I love to make people smile, forget their stress for awhile and enjoy themselves. I would love to say my lighthearted books have that effect but my stories to date have been neither lighthearted nor stress-free. I write about topics like PTSD, Domestic Violence, and Depression. While I have ideas for books such as Western Romance, Historical Action, Suspense, and Historical Fantasy I have never written a book about fun and funny situations.

Never, that is, until now. Back in January I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with agents and while none at the time were interested in my book Sharing Strength, all about PTSD, and they agreed my Voices series needed work, I was able to share some of my ideas with them. After thoroughly depressing everyone with talk of PTSD and Domestic Violence however I knew I needed to lighten the mood. The best way I thought to do that was by sharing ridiculous stories from my day job. Within minutes I had people laughing, tears rolling down their cheeks. A few agents even requested to see the book I was currently pitching.

I explained I wasn't pitching anything, just sharing stories but they felt putting my experiences together into a book would be a great idea and could sell well. After brief protesting about how it wasn't actually a book I agreed to send one of the agents the manuscript. I started coming up with a list of stories and experiences from my time as a dealer but I quickly realized I needed another perspective, a male point of view. That was when I recruited my best friend and fellow dealer to help co-author the book.

We have been working on stories for the book for over a month now but they were beginning to feel stagnant and I was struggling to see any humor in them at all. I still love all the stories I have included but there was just something missing, they weren't fun to write anymore. Yesterday, while I was giving another dealer a break, a player walked up and began playing a game called you might be an alcoholic if... I was enjoying the game as we went back and forth giving our observations and then when he left I began thinking of things people might relate to when it comes to being a casino dealer. I only have a few ways so far but I have found my fun and the people I have shared the ideas with have all laughed the way those agents did. Taking time to laugh and finding ways to make what you are doing enjoyable is just as important as completing a project. Go out and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Day 36 - Moving Forward

I have written many times about the struggles of getting caught in a rut. I have battled that frustration for years. I am proud of the fact that I have overcome it, though at times it takes far longer than I would like it to. Today, however, I am not focusing on the ability to get off my butt and get something done. I am thinking more about moving forward in a story.

Have you ever picked up a book and become fully engrossed in the story? You continue reading but eventually come across a scene or chapter that seems to slow down the narrative. Maybe it is a chapter that does not seem to lead into the next part of the book. It could be an internal monologue that is so drawn out you lost interest. Perhaps it was a scene so deeply described it made you forget what was happening in he rest of the story. I have read books that have all of these scenes and chapters in them. I am sure I have written books with them all as well.

I spoke with an acquisitions editor recently about the opening pages of my thriller Voices In My Head. As soon as I sat down at the table with him he asked me about the premise of the book. I explained what it was about watching as he leaned back in his chair. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared off into the distance, clearly thinking about something. Finally he sat forward again, placed his elbows on the table and told me directly how interesting the concept sounded. The only problem, he said, was that reading those first ten pages gave him no hint of what I had just mentioned. I needed to get to the story sooner.

He also brought up a scene he had read. He asked about the drama and suspense I had created saying he had been intrigued until he saw who was behind the scenes. He felt I had put the scene in to show I could build suspense, he was completely right. The problem was, it didn't go anywhere. There was no reason for that scene other than a quick "I wonder..." moment and when I looked at it again I realized I could cut the scene entirely without changing the story a bit.

Just today I was reading some advice on a writer's site on Facebook and that popped up again. If you can remove a character, scene, chapter or dialogue exchange without it changing the story, you should cut it. Everything in your book should have a reason for being. that reason should never be just to have enough words. Make the words you choose work as hard as you are so they earn their place in the book. I am working to keep this in mind as I go through the editing on Breathe then move on to Voices and Sharing Strength.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Day 35 - Milestone Rewards

I mentioned recently that I thrive under the pressure of a deadline. I love the Nanowrimo challenge because it has that end date that keeps the pressure on. I am working toward a deadline imposed by an agent that pushes me forward. The problem is that self imposed deadlines do not have the same effect usually. When it comes to things I am doing on my own sometimes I need to create a punishment / reward system instead.

Some people reward themselves when they are on a diet. They will do something like going out to a movie or do something fun for every five  or ten pounds they lose. If they are training for some type of physical challenge they will go out to eat something delicious and unhealthy when they cross the finish line of that event. I have done both. I am a food addict and formerly a very heavy girl. When I first started losing weight I would go buy myself a cute new shirt or dress every time I would lose another ten pounds. When I began doing distance cycling and obstacle courses I would reward myself with a sundae or special dinner out.

I am still involved in the physical challenges and I am still slowly in the process of losing weight but adding in the sometimes frustrating tasks of writing, editing and getting ready for publish when it all seems overwhelming can lead to a need for such a reward system to be put in place. I have been numbering the days of my challenge. It is supposedly forty days for lent but if you could from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday it is actually forty-six days. For that time period I gave up junk food, fast food and pizza. I am now debating maintaining that plan until I reach some of my writing goals.

The weight loss and training aspects are still there with my obstacle course coming up in about six weeks. I am working toward finishing that particular goal and if I reach my goal weight I will be purchasing a new swimsuit as well. However I have one book to draft and edit, another to edit and revise before sending off to beta readers, yet another to edit and revise and one to prepare for in order to draft for Nano. Then there are the first two books in my Voices series I would like to rewrite / finish and then get going on books three and four. All of this has to happen before I can get to the book series I am truly excited about which is my Syn series. I am working on a milestone chart and rewards system to see if that can help keep me focused enough to achieve all of my goals by the end of next year.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Day 34 - Killing A Character

I saw a fellow author post on Facebook the other day that she had killed her first character. She was feeling emotional about it but there were non-writers commenting say it was just fiction and she should get over it. I do my bets not to get involved in situations like that, especially when the person is not a friend outside of social media. I did follow the thread throughout the day and was thrilled to see so many other writers coming to her defense.

We know the books are fiction. We know the stories are words on paper. We also know that our connection to the characters goes far beyond the fictional world in which they live. The characters in our stories are a part of us. In many cases we are also built into them in a way. Because of this it can hurt when one of them dies. Even when the hero kills the villain at the end of a book, we as writers can take the death with difficulty.

We know more in our hearts than the reader will ever experience. there are elements that are too small or insignificant to the storyline to be included in the book but they live on in our memories. We know them better and have seen them develop so even if we sort of hate them for who they are we still care when they die.

Sometimes we write a draft of a book but one of the characters does not work. They show up but they go nowhere in the story, they don't lend to the outcome and ultimately they just take up space. When we edit and rewrite it can be better to simply write them out of the story. We have now killed them in an entirely new way. Either we have created them only to die or we remove them completely before they ever exist. Either way there is a figment of something that was but will never be again.

I recently had to make a call in one of my books resulting in the removal of a character so the story would flow correctly. It was the right call but it was still frustrating to have to do it. I understand how my Facebook friend felt. This character was not my "first kill" but it was still painful to say goodbye. I will always have a draft of a book where they existed and a final version where they don't. Writers find characters and help them share their stories. Sometimes they die, for us there is a sense of mourning because it isn't so much a creation that disappeared as a friend we have to let go. I know more characters will leave me, that just doesn't make it any easier.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Day 33 - Under A Deadline

There is no question I am better under pressure. When I was in school I would always leave my projects and papers until the last few days then push them out usually writing the last few lines as I walked form my locker into class. I would hand them in, apologize for the fact they may not have been the neatest report or diagram the teacher had seen then take my seat. My instructors would just sigh as they looked over my work.

My reports were organized, properly sourced and handed in on time but they knew for a fact I had been putting the finishing touches on just moments before. I would hear all the time about how much less stress I would be under if I would just start sooner and split the work up over the entire time I had the assignment. This is an issue that persists even today. I will make a plan, get everything in order then sit and wait until it is nearly too late to get anything done.

When it came to Nanowrimo last year I was deeply in danger of seeing my first year where I did not cross the finish line but instead I dug deep and on the last day I had available to write I put in over thirteen thousand words to submit for the win once again. If I had spent more time earlier in the month getting my words down I wouldn't have anywhere near the pressure to do that. instead I coasted across the line with aching arms and a back that screamed to find the muscle relaxers.

Now as I am editing and working to create the book an agent asked me for two months ago I am hoping my last minute push streak stays alive because I am not even done with my half and the last day of this challenge, a mere fourteen days from today, is when I need to get working on the editing and submit to beta readers to get it to the agent by their deadline. I am working hard and I know my co-author said he is better under pressure as well but I do not know his track record. i am hoping he is able to push out the pages like I do but I am also looking for ways I can cover it if he falls short.

Time to get back to work and see how much my coffee and self induced stress can pull out of me today. When I do finally cross that finish line and have the collection of short stories I am working on I will share an excerpt for my wonderful readers to see if they have any feedback for us before we send it out to the red pen of editors and horror of the agent world.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Day 32 - April Fools

Watching all of the posts on social media today to see who is trying to prank the world and who is on the guessing side it made me wonder, how many people put holidays, cultural events or specific times of year into their stories. Going back over some of my writing there aren't many things that stand out like that. I do have one book which will eventually become a series that has a historical time to it but so far that is all.

I have never written a Christmas story, had someone celebrate a birthday or anniversary. In fact the only time I can remember incorporating anything like that would be in Never Give Up when there was a dinner to celebrate a promotion and in Survivor everything comes to a head during Jasmine's birthday though it isn't exactly a party. Welcome to Syn is et during the time of the Salem Witch Trials but they are only loosely related.

My books don't generally touch on events that take place such as walking the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan over Labor Day weekend, or the pride parade in San Fransisco because either my books aren't set there or they are things only people in that area would understand anyway. I don't write about holidays because I like the stories to be more open and could have happened anytime or at least anytime in a season. It did make me think about whether or not people use those times and traditions in their storytelling.

There are, of course, books dedicated to holidays, birthdays and cultural events but it seems that many writers I know do not write about specific times unless it is interwoven into the actual storyline.  Unless it is a Christmas story the holiday season isn't usually mentioned except perhaps in passing. Unless a character comes into money or powers at a certain age they don't tend to bother celebrating. So it isn't just me apparently.

For my readers I would love to ask, do you enjoy sharing these occasions with the characters? Would you prefer to see more holidays and events mentioned or celebrated within the story or do you like seeing them only fi absolutely needed? I am curious about what the readers think on the subject or celebrations in a book.