Archive for the 'On writing…' Category
Monday, January 8th, 2018
Shonda Rhimes already had two successful shows on TV, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, when Judy Smith, the inspiration for Olivia Pope, did a 10-minute pitch to her about a show called Scandal. In those 10 minutes, Shonda could automatically see what 100 episodes would look like.
I’ll have what Shonda’s having, please. But while I’m figuring out her secret, I force myself to write faster twice a year. In April I do the 30 poems in 30 days challenge for National Poetry Month (I also offer an online challenge giving participants 30 prompts in 30 days – it’s a busy month!) and in November I participate in NaNoWriMo, a free write-a-book-in-a-month contest. I wrote the first draft for my book The Shadow of A Dog I Can’t Forget during a poetry challenge and finished a first draft of my second book Squinting Over Water during a NaNo challenge. I completed a first draft of my third book Little Earthquakes–Fast Lit To Go in the recent Nano contest.
Here’s the plan I follow. Hopefully it makes you a faster writer too:
BE A LITTLE UNDONE: By that I mean, jump up and down, have a little tantrum as you summon up all the imagination and grit you’ve got in you. Kick expectation and fear to the curb. You want first draft material here, not final-final brilliance. That comes later. Who is your favorite superhero? Mine right now is Jessica Jones played by actress Krysten Ritter. She’s so very flawed and so are we during this fast writing phase. Flawed characters make for great storytelling. Be BAD.
MASTER CLASS THINKING: There’s a mindset of successful people. They stay fit in body and mind, they fully believe in what they’re doing and they never give up. Like them, you can train your brain to create in 15 minute intervals. Each night, an hour or two before you fall asleep, write down what you want to accomplish in a story the next day. I brainstorm the perfect conflict for my character, the highlights of scenes I want to write. I try to determine how he or she loves ‘cuz come on, isn’t that at the core of most good stories? If you’re strapped for time or just not feeling the love, it can be as simple as writing down the last line you wrote from the previous day. I love things that have a double-whammy benefit, so usually midday, I listen to a quick TED Talk (TED.com) and work-out at the same time – running in place, doing jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges and a 60-second plank. REPEAT. I always feel more motivated sitting back down to write after this ritual. I also run a fast mile every day to get me pumped for the day’s writing. Okay, some days, it’s just a few times back and forth in the driveway with the dogs!
REFUSING TO GET STUCK: I follow the good advice of an L.A. screenwriter who suggested writing down the words AND THEN and keep going with the story. If I’m still stuck, I ask myself: What are my story’s interesting events? Do my character’s meet randomly or is there an interconnectedness nobody saw coming? Does the story have any secret tragedies, any crash and burn moments? I try to be patient, reminding myself often of why I write –for me it’s to find out what every story is about.
WHAT TO DO WITH GREAT IDEAS THAT AREN’T FITTING INTO YOUR STORY: Nothing is ever lost on a writer. We’re all little spies. We find good ideas everywhere, sometimes we just don’t know where to put them. During these manic fast writing months, I keep a fragment file. Holiday Crisp, a character in a Little Earthquakes story, came to me from a discarded apple crate I nearly tripped over in a Whole Foods parking lot! A good resource book I found is Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan. If I find myself using too many he said/she saids, I open up Bryn’s book where she’s got lists of everything we need to create a great story broken down into sections:Descriptions (Gestures, body language, emotional descriptions, evocative images); Settings – (Sounds, scents, 100 interesting settings for scenes); Plotting; Action – (Words for action scenes, sex scenes, that show attraction, etc.); Dialogue; Character Names; and Character Traits. I never use an exact idea Bryn suggests but just reading through some of her lists gets me back on track with my story.
READ GOOD WRITING: Before the contests start I get out books by my favorite writers. Every day I type up a favorite paragraph or two. I really believe there’s a rhythm to good writing. This little exercise helps with that.
Here’s my quick take on what fast writing is to me:
F= Feel your character’s mood & emotions. What does your character want? What obstacles are in the way? Get that all out on the page.
A= Accountability. Nothing keeps me writing faster than deadlines like NaNo.
S = Scenes, surprises, side trips & set backs, your story needs all of this.
T = Try to thread what matters most to your narrator throughout the story. Like the hem on a dress, you can’t see it, but it does an important job.
The trick to all of this of course is keeping the momentum going once the challenge ends. I’m always setting goals for myself using writing contests as deadlines to finish stories. I also study the work of creatives I admire, trying in my small way to somehow be as good. And then there’s that fast mile (almost!) daily!!! Always remember, if this was easy, anyone could do it!!!
WRITE…WRITE…WRITE…READ…READ…READ and KEEP MOVING!
Be on the look-out for my third book Little Earthquakes – Fast Lit to Go. Here’s where to find me – Email: email@example.com
Instagram: wordactress/Mary Kennedy Eastham
Tuesday, December 26th, 2017
We’ve just whizzed past Christmas. It’s on to the New Year! Here are a couple of things you might want to check out!
Over on the my collections website, I’m giving away this free read!
If you’d like a copy, here’s where you go!
My Collections Website
This story was so much fun to write! It first appeared in Blue Collar, and so inspired me that I had to start a new series of books centered around Montana bounty hunters. Check out the first story in that series, Montana Bounty Hunters: Reaper.
About “The Bounty”…
After bucking her trainer’s orders during a takedown, a female bounty hunter proves she’s more than ready for the job..
JANUARY PLOTTING BOOTCAMP!
This message is for any authors or aspiring authors who might be interested in some intensive help developing their next stories.
Don’t let that word “intensive” scare you away; I’ve led newbies, as well as multi-published authors, through our plotting process numerous times. Everyone comes away with new knowledge and insight, or at the very least, some terrific brainstorming support!
While lessons and exercises will be posted throughout the month of January, this is truly a self-paced class. We all have busy lives, and the workshop is designed to accommodate any schedule. Enjoy the pitch below!
ROSE’S ONLINE PLOTTING BOOTCAMP
Dates: January 8 – February 2, 2018
Last date to register: January 8, 2018
Cost: $50.00—cheap, considering everything you get!
Your DI (Drill Instructor): Delilah Devlin
Offered through: www.rosescoloredglasses.com
What you can expect:
CHARACTER (Strengthening exercises)
CONFLICT! CONFLICT! CONFLICT!
Breaking through the STORY STRUCTURE stronghold
Battling the PLOT LINES
We do more in one month than some people do all year! Get tough! Get motivated! Get plotting!
Join your Drill Instructor, Delilah Devlin, to learn a methodical approach to harness your creativity in order to produce an in-depth plot for your next novel.
Sound scary? It is!!!! Especially when you’re staring at an empty page without a compass and a map to guide you through the novelistic jungle. Your DI will lead you through four weeks of tactics, exercises, and training that will help strengthen your abilities. Delilah will accomplish this with weekly lessons, bi-weekly chats, and daily online communication. Join her for bivouac in January!
Join this elite force now!
For those who don’t know, my sister and I co-founded the website for writers called Rose’s Colored Glasses in 2004. From that site, we run a critique group and provide workshops—some free and some for pay. In January, I will be leading a month-long plotting bootcamp. It’s a great time to join—something you can do to kick off the New Year! Join me if you can! ~DD
How’s our workshop different from every other one out there? I’ll provide feedback and brainstorming every step of the way!
Interested? Follow this link to sign up:
And feel free to pass this along to anyone else you think might be interested with my thanks!
Saturday, December 9th, 2017
So…. I wrapped up another story this past week—just in the nick of time. It releases next week! The puzzle is related (hint-hint!). I had already set up a pre-order for the story but had to change the description slightly, as well as the price (it’s cheaper!), because it turned out to be more of a novelette than a novella. I don’t think you’ll mind. For this writer, I begin a story, thinking it’s going to go a certain way, and then stuff happens. Crazy stuff I didn’t see until the characters encounter something surprising (right along with me!), and the story takes off in another direction. This story will require a sequel. But you’ll have to read it, and then you’ll get an idea of why. Hate being a tease, but hey, that’s my job, right?
In the meantime, I have to move onto other projects, like a certain SEAL stepbrother and a wedding…another bounty hunter adventure… I’m editing three stories for other authors—all due by the end of this month! I’ll be revising an old story I based very loosely on a Russian fairytale and releasing that this month—so be watching for it!
Play the puzzle—then I have a question for you.
Answer in the comments, and you might win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Which of my series would you like to see continued?
Check this page for a reminder of what’s already there!
(Shame on me, I haven’t updated that page to show the Montana Bounty Hunters!)
Don’t miss out on FREE STORIES! Again, here’s the deal…
Throughout December, leading up to Christmas on the Delilah’s Collections website, I and some of the wonderful authors who’ve appeared in my collections will be giving away our stories! My suggestion, if you’re interested in collecting them, is to subscribe to the Collections blog. Look for the sign-up in the right column on that website. It says “Subscribe To Blog Via Email”—easy, right? That way you won’t miss a single offering. And beware! These free stories will only be available for a short time, so jump on them!
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
So, vacations are great and all, but knuckling under once you’re back is hard. But it has to happen. I have too many irons in the fire. Don’t you love that phrase? Too many irons in the fire. Be right back—have to know where that comes from…
I found this explanation on Answers: “…the origin of ‘irons in the fire’ relates to the battlefield surgeon, from at least medieval times, who kept a fire going with a number of different cauterising irons in it at all times. The irons were used to cauterise wounds and stop people bleeding to death. A surgeon with many irons in the fire was prepared to treat any size or shape of wound.”
Huh. I have to admit, I thought the explanation would have something to do with cowboys and brandings. But back to my irons…
December looks insane. I have to finish editing Soldier Boy and get it loaded for its 12/5 release.
I have to finish writing Wolf Moon Rising, which releases 12/12—yeah, I’m really cutting that one close.
I owe you all the last installment of Sara & Hunter’s story—the wedding! Have no idea how that’s going to go.
I have to re-edit and re-publish Artic Dragon for release toward the end of the month.
Oh! I have the last 4 chapters of the next Delta Heat story to write.
And I have to write a short sequel to Reaper and Carly’s story for their Kindle World appearance in January. Sound like there’s enough on my plate yet? (Wait, on my plate… Nope, not going to look that one up right now…)
Then, how about the two books I have to edit for two other writers and the FREE Write 50 Books a Year workshop I have to lead?
So, yeah. December’s nutty. And all that Christmas stuff? All my gifts are bought. I’m letting my daughter wrap them all!
(These two stories are already up for pre-order!)
My question to you…
Does your December look just as nutty as mine?
Saturday, October 21st, 2017
UPDATE: The winner is Peggy!
* * * * *
I think I’ve mentioned this before… I love writing short stories. I began my career as an author writing novels. Then browsing some calls for submissions, I ran across calls for short stories. I wrote one. Then another. And then another. I quickly discovered I loved writing them. They gave me a chance to reach THE END very quickly, which was hugely satisfying. They gave the chance to try out different genres to see whether I enjoyed writing them. Plus, they gave me stress relief.
Very soon, I compiled quite a backlist of shorties, and I was tempted to try my hand at editing my own anthologies. I put together several projects for Cleis Press, but when the company sold, I decided to release my own personally-curated books. I find it highly enjoyable developing the theme and seeking authors to write stories.
These anthologies were never meant to be money-makers. Instead, I wanted a way to help authors, and me, expand our reader base by sharing our readers and encouraging them all to pick up every one of these books, so I offer them for a very low price to recoup expenses then offer them for free. There’s little risk that way. If you love only one story in 15, it’s still worth the asking price, but I’m betting you’ll discover authors you want to follow.
So, below is what I have so far of my self-pubbed anthologies. You can check out my full list at my Collections website. Coming in January (I hope), will be the next volume, Pirates: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology.
Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance
Vikings. Fierce warriors who terrified all in their path as they raided and marauded, enslaved and murdered during Europe’s Dark Ages.
But these rough men from a rugged land were also sailors, explorers, craftsmen, and highly sought after mercenaries.
Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance will transport you to the realm of fantasy where such fearsome and loyal men are relentless potent lovers. Whether the lady of the keep demands a few stolen hours of pleasure with a captured Viking warrior or the handsome Northman is the one seducing his captive, you will find plenty of lusty adventures in settings as far-flung as Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Byzantium, Moorish Spain and the New World.
Let your fantasies run wild to a time when men wearing bearskin shirts and shining iron helms could capture a fierce maiden’s heart!
Amazon | Nook | Kobo | IBooks | GooglePlay | Print
Rogues: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
Rogues! Even the word conjures a special sort of hero—a playful bad boy with a heart of gold—at least when it comes to his lady love. This volume is filled with the Jack Sparrows of old—pirates sailing the high seas, Regency-era highway men, modern-day jewel thieves, like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief—men doing bad things, bending or breaking the law, but in a very sexy way. With thirteen stories sure to satisfy the reader who craves that ultimate bad boy, prepare to have your heart stolen!
Amazon | Nook | Kobo | Print
Blue Collar: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology
When it comes to love…Blue Collar is better!
It’s time to set aside those sexy billionaires and enjoy stories about the everyday, even sexier bad boys you meet in real life. They may have dirty hands and wear tool belts and jeans instead of Rolex watches, but they’re earthy alpha males unafraid to get down and dirty when face to face with a woman in need–whatever her need may be!
Just a few of the titillating stories inside…
In “Elevation” by Megan Mitcham, an always-in-control policewoman trapped in an elevator shaft gets a sexy rescue from the handsome repairman. A lonely woman drives a thousand miles to meet an oil field roughneck ready for a long night of laying pipe in Mia Hopkins’ “We Drill Deep While Others Sleep”. Jennifer Kacey shows the lengths to which an enterprising gal will go to get the owner of an oil change shop to check her fluids in “The Boss”. And those are just a few of the sexy stories inside this collection about the everyday hero next door.
These are men who’ve built their powerful muscles from hard work rather than inside any gym, and they sure know how to use their hard-earned skills to pleasure a woman…
Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo | IBooks | GooglePlay | Print
For a chance to win your choice of one of my self-published backlist stories or one of these anthologies, answer me this:
- Are you looking forward to an anthology filled with pirate stories (historical, sci-fi, steampunk, etc.)?
- What other kinds of bad-boy themed anthologies would you like to read?
Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
Seize the day. Put no trust in tomorrow. ~ Horace
Did you know there was a second part to the phrase Carpe diem? The whole phrase is: Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Try fitting that on a coffee cup!
I do love Carpe diem. It’s something you have to say with a raised fist. Every schoolteacher entering a classroom, every commuter entering the train, every mother entering the kitchen to start breakfast—shake that fist! Carpe diem! Say it like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!”
Okay, so maybe you guessed it. I need a little motivation today, and I’m going a little overboard. Shouldn’t be though. I actually got a great night’s sleep. I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I shuffled to my office, cleared a spot on my desk for my phone (Lordy, you should see the stack of shit sitting in the center. Before too long I will have to raise my desk chair to see over it!), and brought my computer to life with a righteous right click.
And that quickly, I saw today’s To Do and sighed. I have a lot of words to write. A shit-ton. I’m cussing a lot today, aren’t I? You can say carpe diem without saying quam minimum credula postero, but you can’t say yippee-ki-yay without saying motherfucker. And frankly, I need to cuss to “gird my loins” before I settle down to the task at hand.
Are you with me? Want to raise that fist and shake it? Got any words of inspiration? I don’t mind if you cuss.
Friday, August 11th, 2017
A little over a year ago I had one of my short stories published with a series called Candy Hearts and released by the Wild Rose Press. Each story in the series revolved around Valentines Day, and each had to contain reference to the heart-shaped sugar candies with the goofy sayings on them like: Love U Forever; Be Mine; Take Me, I’m Yours. You get the picture. My story was titled For Keeps and it was a lot of fun to write.
When it came time to promote the story, the other Candy Hearts authors were willing to visit my blog but they only wanted to give me what they called a Media Kit. If I wanted to visit their blogs to promote For Keeps, I had to supply a Media Kit. Known among my friends and family as the Woman Who Needs to Get Out More, I had no clue what to do and was ready to hang it up.
So I asked and one of the authors very kindly showed me how to create a Media Kit. Step by step, cut and paste, be imaginative, she said. And whaddya know, it worked. Within one year I was teaching others how to create a Media Kit for each of their books. I call that Paying It Forward.
Now we come to Twitter, Tweeting and other similar social communication which do not involve dialing a phone. Up until six months ago I had no clue what Twitter or Tweeting meant, beyond a classroom of giggling eight year-olds who recently discovered Justin Timberlake or that man-child Bieber person. Okay, I’ll admit to hearing about tweeting when I tuned into Mike & Mike on ESPN every morning. These two guys tweet their . . . posteriors off several times a day. And it works—for them. Not me, I swore. I’d swallow my tongue before I did this “at hash tag whatever”. Like that’ll work.
Then I was invited to join a group of six authors to create stories for a box-set anthology set in a casino-resort near Niagara Falls in Western New York. One of the rules was each participating author was expected to tweet often, like daily. Okay okay, I grumbled. I’ll do this if I have to. If it kills me. I researched, I practiced, I learned. Now I’m helping others tweet. Wahoo. Let me tell you, I can re-tweet anyone’s butt off.
Facebook? Learned that one, sort of, after much trial and error. Then passed it on.
Pinterest? That, I learned, is soooo much fun, just like friends had been telling me for years. I now have Pinterest boards for each of my books, and I’m scheduled to present an on-line course in the value of creating Pinterest boards—not just for authors but for anyone interested.
By far, the best Paying It Forward concept I now employ is making seat belt cushions for patients who undergo chest surgery [mastectomies, pacemaker insertions, PICC line insertions for chemotherapy]. What began as a simple survival technique to stop the whining from the back seat, “this strap hurts my neck, Nana. Can’t I take it off?” evolved into helping others infinitely less fortunate than I.
Paying It Forward. It works for me.
Hey, you never know.
I love to hear from readers.
You can find me at:
my blogs: www.WildWomenAuthorsx2.blogspot.com
Thanks for inviting me to stop by, Delilah. I appreciate it very much!