It’s been a month on my quest to change my life. Overall, I love the idea of resolutions. They help me keep on track with things I want to accomplish, but tend to blot out of mind when life gets too hectic. For fifty weeks, I have to think about resolutions, all of them everyday.
How am I doing so far?
I’m surprisingly not great with this. I’m too tired to write before I go to bed at night and so I write a few sentences in the morning. More a summary of my day than an overview of my feelings.
- No television after 8pm
My family time has become richer by shutting off the television at night. I work on my computer, but I’m available for everyone while they’re doing homework and as they wind down for the day.
- Exercise everyday
When I get my exercise done in the morning, I’m good. But if I try to fit it in later in the day, I miss exercise over 60% of the time.
- Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.
Forcing myself to eat has been a blessing. I eat salad everyday, and have a shake for breakfast. They are filling enough to me that I don’t snack as much. So this one so has been the best resolution yet.
As time goes by, my life is better with these tweaks, but nothing is perfect. I have good days and bad days, but doing nothing is not an option.
For my fifth resolution?
My brother wants me to try meditation. I hate meditation. The idea of trying to not think about anything for a writer who has thirty plots trolling the background of her mind daily makes the task impossible. If I’m stressing about whether I can get away with a pounding heart in a scene instead of something infinitely more unique, to I’m thinking about my grocery list or whether the kids brought their homework to school.
As a compromise, I’m going to try two minutes of mediation per day. I can do anything for two minutes, except planks. I even have a guided mediation program on my phone. I’ve got this.
The wonderful Kristin Contino, invited me to be part of a Baton Blog Hop. Each writer involved answers four questions and then passes the baton on to another person. I’m receiving the baton from Kristin Contino. Her debut novel, THE LEGACY OF US, will be published by Sparkpress in September. It’s a wonderful journey in the lives of the women in one family through three generations.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
Susan Scott Shelley and I are preparing to publish a novella, TACKLED BY THE GIRL NEXT DOOR published by The Wild Rose Press this October. We’re in the “Oh my God, we have to promote this thing?” stage of the process, but we’re a good team and have been learning about marketing books from our friends who have published before us.
Last week, I finished the third novel in my Truth series. It’s been sent to my beta readers and will hopefully be at a publisher at the end of the month. I have another book in the series that requires a full overhaul. It should take a month to whip it into shape and then I’m starting a new romantic suspense series about three brothers and the women who bring them to their knees.
Susan and I are finishing our third novella together and have started plotting the fourth. I love plotting sessions with her, because our imaginations run in opposite directions and create amazing storylines.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
My characters, especially the female ones, are often hampered by society or their family’s expectations or lack of expectations for them. I love stripping characters down to their true selves and having them become who they were meant to be. Authenticity is a real issue for me.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
My writing style does not include long descriptions or narratives. It tends to jump between dialogue and actions with enough narrative and description to keep the plot moving. Romantic suspense fits that style of writing.
My tendency to be a wise ass bleeds onto the page. In some cases, I create the most unlikeable characters ever. If there is a contest for characters people hate the most, some of the earlier versions of my characters would win (ask some of the contest judges for my earliest manuscripts). Making characters that are real and not Disneyesque versions of people or characters you don’t want to slap up side the head is a challenge, but I love challenges.
The novellas I write with Susan are fun, fast, and full of action. Our voices aren’t similar, but very complimentary. We combine our styles to create really interesting storylines and cool characters.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
I usually start with a character I obsess over, often for months. Finding a partner for that character also takes time.
Creating the plot is fun. It sometimes takes days, weeks, and an army of friends to keep a plot moving in a believable direction. I love when all the pieces of a story are linked together in a cohesive manner. I tend to redo the plot when I hit the middle after I run into logic problems or find myself becoming bored. If I don’t like the story, no one else will.
When writing, I try to complete about 2,000 words per day. I spend my mornings revising what I’ve written the day before. Each scene is edited about five times before I finish the book.
I rely heavily on my critique partner (Susan!) to catch flaws in my logic and confusing issues in the book. When she’s finished, I send it out to my beta readers.
So that’s all about me! Next week, I’m passing the baton to my critique partner/writing partner Susan Scott Shelley.
by Veronica Forand
Did you ever wonder exactly how many friends you have in this world? Not Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or relatives, but the “help, my battery won’t start, do you have jumper cables” kind of friends? Real honest to God old fashioned friends.
I recently did a count and realized that I’ve let too many people go from my life because of obligations and commitments. If I called them for jumper cables, they’d be surprised to hear from me. That’s not right. And it puts me at the mercy of AAA.
I do have a small posse who I can rely on and who can rely on me for any number of things; coffee chats, lunches out, watching the kids, or plain old griping over the phone. Not redecorating advice, I’m pretty inept at decorating. I once decided on blue wall-to-wall carpeting, so I painted the walls the same blue. I then added a blue and white striped couch for contrast and a painting of a boat in blue water. Luckily, we moved and my friends never let me decorate again without assistance.
So I’ve come up with five steps for me to reconnect with some lost friends:
Call them. I need to get over my fear that they don’t actually want to talk to me. We are all busy, so I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. And believe me, there’s a lot of doubt.
Surprise them at their houses with coffee. Although the last time I tried this, the friend was just short of finishing her afternoon romp with her husband. She won’t be inviting me over in the near future.
Pick up their children from school to give them a break. Generally, call first. Kidnapping charges are difficult to fight, especially with an irate parent sitting next to the prosecution.
Have my children join their children’s activities. Kids get more structured learning moments, because they don’t have enough, and mothers have a chance to connect. I first need to make sure John wants to join the ballet class, because pink tights aren’t comfortable for boys, or so I’ve heard.
Use social media. This generally defeats the point of personally reaching out to my friends, but time is limited and they should be happy with any contact I can give them.
- When critiquing another person’s manuscript, remember that your voice does not belong in someone else’s work. I’ve restructured entire pages before remembering that I’m not the author and the person doesn’t necessarily want a humor hit immediately after the dog dies.
- Sometimes showing is more dramatic and effective than telling, but not always.
- Sentences containing the word “was” are not all passive. Sorry to the person whose work I annihilated. I’ve been reading up on basic grammar and shouldn’t make that mistake again.
- If judging a contest, NEVER tell the writer that you would have stopped reading if you didn’t have to judge the story. That’s just mean.
- Novels don’t have to be in deep POV. Many successful writers have drawn readers into their stories without using the technique at all.
- Rhetorical devices can create interesting, amusing, and entertaining passages. They can also create cloying, artificial, and annoying pages to endure.
- Read dialogue aloud. If it doesn’t flow off your tongue, it probably won’t flow off the character’s tongue either.
- Don’t send people a first draft to critique. Fix the glaring errors yourself so the person doing the critique can concentrate more on plot, characterization, and flow.
- Find people to critique your work that understand and like your voice. If you write snarky vampire princess books, make sure the person who critiques your manuscript appreciates snarky vampire princesses.
- Be honest, but only if it’s helpful. A professor in college once told me that I couldn’t write a quality term paper because I had no talent for writing. I proved him wrong when I won a writing contest in law school and earned a spot on the International Tax Law Review. It wasn’t my lack of talent that hindered me; it was my lack of a quality teacher.