I have lots of bad habits. I’m sure you do, too. The one that causes me the most stress is the one where I think I have to conquer one mountain at a time. By that, I mean if I have a huge edit job, I have to work through it to the exclusion of writing. Which causes me to go down to the wire when it comes to finishing a book. I wrote Guarding Hannah in a ridiculously short time. Yeah, I’m really happy with the story. In fact, I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever written, but that isn’t the point. I need to destress, not run on adrenaline.
That’s my big goal this year. Destress the work. Get little bites done in an orderly fashion as I march toward completion. I know how to do this. I was a program manager in a past life. I used to work on multiple story projects at one time using some advanced planning techniques, but I’m not going for that now. I don’t want to write MORE. I want to write in such a way that I have time to devote to something that gives me greater joy—like painting.
Yes, doodling things like these makes me happy.
I want more time to sit with paint and paper. I want more time to take some classes and learn how to do it well. I feel like I did when I started writing—I want to know everything, try everything, right now! Not that I’m looking to make it another gig for money. I just want to explore an artistic path for passion’s sake.
But to get there, I have to rope in my chaotic work habits. I’ve begun this year anew. So far, so good. I’m making progress on my new story, Mica, and I’m working on a set of edits I’ll finish this week. In the meantime, I’ve been painting in the evenings and organizing my studio space (does that ever end?). I’ll get there…in incremental steps rather than putting all my energy into fits of activity. That’s so exhausting, isn’t it?
So, I’d love to give away one of these postcards. Winner’s choice. Tell me what bad habit you’d like to tackle this year.
Writers, where do you get your ideas? In my just-released workbook, The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers, the whole first section is dedicated to getting ideas. While some experienced novelists probably have long lists of ideas waiting to be written, beginner writers might struggle with this step—the first step, really! That said, I encourage even experienced writers to complete “getting ideas” exercises. It’s a great for stretching and challenging your creative muscles. My workbook suggests numerous ways of generating ideas but one of my favorites is “This Meets That”.
“This Meets That” is similar to something we have in the book business called “comps”. “Comps” is short for comparables, and it refers to what other books that a book under discussion would be compared to. So an author, an agent, a publisher or a reviewer might describe a book thus: “It’s got the sweet romance of Stargirl but in a dystopian setting like Divergent” (I would read this!) Sometimes comps are simply expressed like “It’s X meets Y” or “part X and part Y”. When I was agent hunting, I described my young adult sci-fi, Zero Repeat Forever, as “Part Terminator and part Beauty and the Beast”. My publisher describes it as “The 5th Wave meets Beauty and the Beast”. But one of my favorite ways to describe it has always been “Twilight meets Terminator”!
What does this have to do with getting ideas? For indie romance authors, who often write and publish six or more books per year, the “getting ideas” part of writing is critical. Readers are hungry for new premises and new characters, but new ways of telling familiar stories are also always popular. So a great way to generate ideas is to mash two familiar stories together, creating something new. In doing this you not only have created an interesting premise for your book, but you also now have access to at least two existing books/stories’ worth of inspiration (and indeed detail) to draw from.
X meets Y premises can be lots of fun, and the further X is from Y the better, in my opinion. Only imagine the possibilities! I’d love to read “Cinderella meets Clan of the Cave Bear” for example. A prehistoric prince and his enchanted mystery princess? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome. Or how about “Scheherazade meets High Fidelity” about a plucky Muslim teen who keeps her disgruntled record store boss amused with stories so he doesn’t close down his failing business. (OMG someone please write this).
I could go on and on about this, but I’m at risk of coming up with premises I want to actually write. And I have a deadline. I need to focus!
What X meets Y retellings would you like to write?
There are many thousands, if not millions of aspiring novelists out there who simply don’t know where to start. Thousands more writers have attempted or even completed a novel or two but are looking for a new way of approaching their next one. Then there are successful, published novelists who are sure they’ve forgotten how to write a novel and will never be able to do it again. And finally there are published novelists who are confident they can do it again if they could just find their laptop under the chaos on their desk.
The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers is for all of the above and more. It’s a writer’s workbook that provides just enough structure to get the creative juices flowing, while leaving writers the freedom to get their words down how, when and where they want to. Lists, quotes, doodles, collage, prose, verse, song lyrics, maps and diagrams will all fit into the Workbook pages, allowing writers to create a complete and detailed blueprint for their novel, including such information as character names, setting descriptions, genre, musical inspiration, props, world-building and much more.
Including prompts and tips on each page, The Novel Workbook for Messy Writers is for novelists of all ages, at any stage in their writing career.
G.S. (Gabrielle) Prendergast is the bestselling author of numerous books for children and teens. She studied writing at the University of New South Wales in Australia, at San Francisco State University and the University of British Columbia. After years of working in the music industry, in social welfare, and the film industry, Gabrielle began writing books when she became a mother, so she could work from home. Her books have received nominations for the White Pine Award, the Canadian Library Association Award, the Vancouver Book Prize and several other honors. She won the BC Book Prize for her YA sci-fi Zero Repeat Forever and the Westchester Award for her YA novel in verse Audacious. Born in the UK and both an Australian and New Zealand citizen, Gabrielle now lives in East Vancouver in a permanent state of “under-construction”. You can find Gabrielle on Instagram or Tiktok @gsprendergast
And you ask, what the heck is NaNoWriMo? Well, you can follow the link or read on!
NaNoWriMo is an online challenge. Writers commit to writing 50,000 words from November 1 to November 30. I’ve participated nearly every year since 2005—not that I’ve made it to the end. Some years, life got in the way or my book was shorter than 50k words, and I didn’t want to start something else. The point is to show up and WRITE!
NaNo is huge now! And international. They sell T-shirts and coffee mugs and host in-person write-ins. They maintain a message board where you can sign up and converse with like-minded authors. I don’t do any of that. I already bought the winners’ T-shirt–now I have to earn it. I have my NaNoWriMo page ready for me to update my daily progress. I have “buddies” I like to check in with, but not much, because November is always scary busy for me.
If any of you writers are planning to “NaNo” this year, be sure to update or sign up to start your page then let me know your buddy name. You can nag me. I’ll try to nag you. That’s how it works.
NaNo provided the pretty graphic to share. Wish I’d doodled it!
Anyways, that’s all I’m talking about today. I have edits, edits, edits to work on. Yeah, three sets. My day is full.
Everyone, have a wonderful day. Find something that gives you joy. I hope to reward myself with a little painting tonight. Out here! ~DD
Today, I’m reading through Gabriel one last time to catch my ugly nits—you know, grammar issues, misspellings, clunky sentences. As many times as I’ve read the chapters, you’d think there would come a time when I’d find ZERO to fix. Hah! I have things that are published now, and if I go grab a scene for something, I find another error. It happens. Even to writers who write for big publishing houses. I know, because I used to do that. Now, I’m on my own. I have three trusted beta readers who help me find some of my errors, but the rest is up to me.
If I were one of those authors who actually wrote their books months in advance of publication, I might have several chances to skim through what I’ve written, but I’m my own publisher now. So, it’s ALL on me.
Sometimes, I wish I was one of those authors who could sit without pressure and write pages and pages, following a production schedule plan. That’s not me. I require adrenaline to produce. I have to be staring at the deadline to upload my book before I can kick my ass into gear. It’s not just the problem of forcing myself to sit at my computer and type, it’s an issue of inspiration. I swear to you, I write better, my stories make more sense, and my scenes pop when I’m on a caffeinated frenzy to finish a book. The language of my books tends to be more realistic, too.
The book I’m wrapping up today to format and load before TOMORROW’S deadline wouldn’t exist without adrenaline. Fig, my heroine, wouldn’t be as tangible. The action scenes wouldn’t be as crisp.
Yeah, sometimes, I wish I was one of those writers, but today, I’m happy I’m not.
It’s the beginning of Spring. April has new beginnings – we have hummingbirds migrating through and joining our native Anna’s hummingbirds at our feeder. This month we also have the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s Camp NaNoWriMo, Letter Writing Month, and Poetry Month. I suspect there are probably more, but those are just the handful we know of.
Are YOU ready for all of that?
I sure don’t think I am. I mean, we’re doing the A to Z Blog Challenge over on our group blog The Writer Zen Garden.
It really helps me to have others to play with, and who will write posts and come up with creative fun things to do.
I think it’s important to realize that it’s heavy to carry the load of all the stuff that’s going on in the world – war in Ukraine, the investigations in the U.S. Capital, the environmental crisis, and the pandemic. Wildfire season started early in Colorado last month. If you look for it, you can find all sorts of awful things.
On the other hand, we have the tools in our hands to help ourselves be resilient through it. There’s a new book by Emmanuel Acho called Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits. In it, he has some terrific ideas (and I fully recommend you read it); one of them is about a young child whose mother brought her to a rap concert. The child was sleeping in her arms on the dance floor and wore yellow earmuffs that stopped the sound, allowing her to sleep. And the genius of it is that he translates that to our own lives: wear your earmuffs.
What “noise” is pressing in on you? Is it social media? News? Oscars drama? Maybe it’s something closer to home, like at work or family dysfunction. But we can put on our own earmuffs and drown out the loudness so that we can focus on our own stuff – creative writing, making, painting, singing, dancing… What’s your stuff?
And even more important, where are your earmuffs? Your earbuds, or noise-canceling earphones, or some other tool to listen to your favorite music or uplifting podcasts. If you want to try relaxing a bit, try binaural audio. And then settle in and play with your stuff.
Me, my stuff is writing novels, weaving, and designing lace. What about you?
After a few authors mentioned their disappointment that they wouldn’t have their stories done in time, I decided to extend the deadline. So, authors, keep writing those Silver Soldiers stories! DD
SILVER SOLDIERS: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY
Editor: Delilah Devlin
Deadline: April 5, 2022
SILVER SOLDIERS is open to all authors.
Editor/Author Delilah Devlin is looking for stories for a romantic erotica anthology tentatively entitled SILVER SOLDIERS: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY.
Why write a short story for this collection? Well, it’s certainly not about making a lot of money, so why do it at all? I’ve said this before, but here are my thoughts…
Writing a short story for a call for submissions is a chance to flex your writing muscle! It can be a chance to experiment with a genre you’ve never written. If you’ve never written a story in first person but don’t want to begin by writing an entire novel using it, start short! For myself, I’ve written stories in new genres or with fresh themes that ended up being so much fun to write they’ve spawned entire series.
You have a deadline! I don’t know about you, but I have trouble keeping my butt in the chair without one!
It’s a promotional opportunity! If selected, you’ll be joined by 12-15 other authors for the launch, sharing your audiences and, hopefully, picking up new readers along the way. Having your story in the collection is another chance to be “seen.”
And remember, you retain the rights to your story, so you can republish it for individual sale or give it away to attract subscribers to your newsletter. You might even decide there’s more story to tell and expand your short story into a novel.
Here’s what I’m looking for…
SILVER SOLDIERS: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY will include stories that satisfy the reader who craves stories with older alpha male heroes. Those salt-and-pepper hotties with crow’s feet earned through rugged training and years of combat. Former soldiers finding their footing after their first careers, or current soldiers nearing the end of their military careers. They’re ready to find the right partner to put down roots, ones who aren’t afraid of scars and rough edges.
SILVER SOLDIERS will seek stories with varied settings here on earth, grounded in reality, or soldiers who might be something a bit more than human—supernatural creatures, or even aliens and cyborgs. The only requirement is that these soldiers understand loyalty, allegiance, and real courage.
I’m open to any subgenre of erotic romance you want to write. I’ll accept contemporary, historical, science fiction, or paranormal stories, and I won’t be picky about whether the stories are hetero, LGBT, ménage… Basically, you, the author, can go anywhere your imagination takes you so long as 1) the story is a romance, and 2) you have a bad boy somewhere in the pages!
The anthology will be sold at a low price—my intent is exposure for you and your writing. The more readers reached, the better! You will retain the rights to your story so that, at a later date, you can republish your stories individually.
I’m seeking hot and inventive stories from authors with unique voices, and above all, I’m looking to be seduced by tales filled with vivid imagery and passion.
Published authors with an established world may use that setting for their original short story.
This is erotic romance, so don’t hold back on the heat. Stories can be vanilla or filled with kink, but don’t miss describing the romantic connection between strong-willed individuals learning to trust and love one another. A deep sensuality should linger in every word. Keep in mind there must be a romantic element with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending. Strong plots, engaging characters, and unique twists are the ultimate goal. Please no reprints. I want original stories.
How to submit: Prepare your 2,500 to 5,500 words story in a double-spaced, Arial, 12-point, black font, Word document (.doc or .docx) OR rich text format (.rtf), with pages numbered. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch, and double space (regular double spacing; do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). U.S. grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required.
In your document at the top left of the first page, include your legal name (and pseudonym, if applicable), mailing address, email address, and a 50-words or less biography, written in the third person, and send to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. I will try to respond no later than June 15, 2022 with decisions.
Payment will be $25.00 USD, ninety days after publication at the end of that month.
Who is Delilah Devlin?
Delilah Devlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of romance and erotic romance. She has published nearly two hundred stories in multiple genres and lengths and has been published by Atria/Strebor, Avon, Berkley, Black Lace, Cleis Press, Ellora’s Cave, Entangled, Grand Central, Harlequin Spice, HarperCollins: Mischief, Kensington, Kindle, Montlake, Penthouse, Running Press, and Samhain Publishing.
Her short stories have appeared in multiple Cleis Press collections, including Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, Passion, Lesbian Cops, Dream Lover, Carnal Machines, Best Erotic Romance (2012), Suite Encounters, Girl Fever, Girls Who Score, Duty and Desire, Best Lesbian Romance of 2013, and On Fire. For Cleis Press, she edited Girls Who Bite, She Shifters, Cowboy Lust, Smokin’ Hot Firemen, High Octane Heroes, Cowboy Heat, Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors and Sex Objects.
She has also edited Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance, Rogues: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, Blue Collar: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, Pirates: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, and Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology.
Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to Delilah at email@example.com.
So happy to be back on Delilah’s blog. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about my writing process. It’s what I have started following ever since writing Matched (book 2 of my Navy SEALs of Little Creek series). Hopefully, you might fight something useful or interesting that you may want to try with your own writing. (Or, for you readers out there, this gives you a view into how this author approaches her craft.) At the very end, there is even a bonus excerpt from Matched.
My writing process usually begins with me developing my premise. I try to figure out what will make it unique, what do I believe about some of the topics that occur in the story, and the biggest part of the chart—the one that is up at the top—is my why. Why is this book important to me, and why do I want to write this particular story?
From there, I move on to developing my characters, specifically focusing on their backstories, goals, motivations, and conflicts. Then comes the fun part…character profiles. I love looking at their quirks and how they dress and what they look like. Enter Pinterest!! I’ll admit some days I feel like going shopping after spending time “researching” the clothes my characters might wear.
Next comes working out my beats followed by creating my chapter-by-chapter outline. And because I am a super plotter, I have ended up with outlines that have been fifteen to twenty pages long. Luckily, this has come in handy once I learned how to fast draft. I find the hardest part of the process just getting that first draft out.
Editing comes next. Believe it or not, I actually love this step. There’s nothing like working on a story and making it better. Some of my favorite parts of editing come from ideas that are created with my critique partners. After a couple of rounds of editing I’ll send my book off to beta readers. This is a great time for me to disconnect from the story. Usually during this time, I try to take some classes and listen to podcasts on craft. I usually wait until I get feedback from all my beta readers before diving in. This way I can decipher issues that everyone had versus comments that might be more subjective. And even if they are subjective, they might spark an idea or a different path or even a new chapter to include.
Truthfully, I don’t think the need to edit ever stops. Even after a book is published, I’ve found areas I want to fix or things I should’ve included. But there comes a time when we must send our book into the world and apply things we wished we could fix to the next manuscript.
Everyone’s writing style and process is different. There is no right or wrong way, no way that makes it any easier. My best piece of advice would be to do what works for you but take time to understand your why. It will keep you going when you hit a point where you are struggling or are even contemplating giving up.
An excerpt from Matched…
To my credit—for which, I should get big kudos—I don’t point out that history and her birth prove her mother knows her way around a boner. Instead, I walk closer and reach around her for an apple sitting on the counter in a powder-blue fruit bowl that matches the wall color, the coffee maker and a stand mixer I can’t wait to show her I know how to use. Chicks love guys who can cook. It’s helped me score on more than one occasion. But while I’m ready to score with my new wife whenever she says the word, a part of me is just as eager to prove to her I’m good for more than terrible pick-up lines.
She gives a little gasp as my fingers brush against hers, and I shiver. Yeah, no. Getting to know my wife in the biblical sense definitely edges out proving my usefulness on the scale of things I’d like to accomplish today.
I could cover up. Could even take a piss and get rid of the problem, but this is more fun than I’ve had in a couple of days. More like months. And I’m not itching to hurry it away. “So, is this breakfast you’ve baked for me?”
Her eyes go dark, what could be classified as deadly, and she smiles slow, devious, a smirk of proportions so epic, I’ve never seen another like it. “Cold day in hell, mi esposo. And before you even think to open that stupid mouth of yours once more, for the indefinite future, your situations are your problem.” She wax-on/wax-offs her hands in front of her. “This is off-limits until further notice.”
Paris Wynters is a multi-racial author who writes steamy and sweet love East Coast stories that celebrate our diverse world. She is the author of Hearts Unleashed, The Navy SEALs of Little Creek series, Love On The Winter Steppes, and Called into Action. When she’s not dreaming up stories, she can be found assisting with disasters and helping to find missing people as a Search and Rescue K-9 handler. Paris resides on Long Island in New York along with her family and is also a graduate of Loyola University Chicago.