Writing is a Muscle—Use it, or Lose it

Moonday Mania

a blog for the readers and writers

It’s the end of the summer. Out here in Colorado, kids are heading back to school, the nights are getting cooler, and we’re on to the last of my summer blogs on The Top Five Things I’ve Learned Writing Romance. Today’s topic may be the most important of all: Writing is a muscle—use it, or lose it.

Here is the list of the other top five things I’ve learned writing romance, and the links to the posts:

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene.
  2. The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible and roll with it.
  3. There is no such thing as the muse.
  4. There is such a thing as resistance.
  5. Writing is a muscle. Use it, or lose it.

Now on with today’s blog:

Writing is hard!

I have had a lot of ups and downs in my effort to write on a regular basis. Sometimes it seems like I get on a writing roll (writing three days a week and getting 10k done) and then it happens: life laughs at me and says “Sorry! Time for a family emergency. No writing for you!”

GRR!

Why is this so upsetting? Because, just like running, lifting weights, or even walking more than ten minutes, it when you don’t use your writing muscles, they degrade.

I know I can write. I know I can get a good sized rough draft done in about 2 months, but my health, my family’s health, and various other interruptions mean that the last book took four months to write, instead of 2. And that just frustrates me.

In fact, I think I can even do better!

I wrote for 11 days in April, 8 days in July, and four in August for a total of 66,556 words. An average of just under 3,ooo words per day. Now that sounds pretty impressive, but let’s take a better look at that. Some of those days I wrote less than 1,000 words, and some days I wrote nearly 5,000 words. Why were they different?

  • Amount of time is a piece of that: some days I only had an hour to write, some days I had four.
  • Organization is also a piece: sometimes the synopsis and beat sheet were spot on and I could really sit down and just write. Some days I had to throw out the synopsis and figure out what I needed to do.

Getting back to writing is slow writing.

But mostly, it had to do with if I’d written that week at all, or if I was sitting down to a cold and chilly keyboard. The first few days of July, when I hadn’t touched this manuscript since the end of April, my pace was super slow. The first two days: 331 and 433 respectively.

The more I sit down and write, the faster the words roll out. If I want to write a book in two months, they need to be consecutive months, they need to be consecutive weeks, and the best possible scenario? They really need to be consecutive days.

Imagine if on the days when I wrote a few hundred words, I actually wrote my average of 3,000 words. (And this really is my average. If I’m writing 2-3 days per week for 3 hours at a time, I write 3k per sitting.) My word count on those days would be 3 times what I actually wrote. And that would mean I could have written the entire rough draft in less than a month, instead of two months stretched over four months.

Wow! I’d be a superhero writer!

muscle

Photo by Denis Yang, creative commons

 

 How do you get to be your own writing superhero?

Write as much as you can as often as you can. It’s that simple. Okay, it’s not that simple. Writing is just like working out. It takes discipline and focus. And it takes getting to the job day after day, even when you don’t want to.

Notice, I can tell you what you should do, but I struggle with it myself. But when I crunch these numbers, I can see superherodom in my future. And I want it.

How can I write like this?

I won’t lie, it’s hard. But like all good things it comes with it’s own reward. Just like working out, when you write on a consistent schedule, you’ll see your muscles getting stronger.

I’m going to test out my theory. I’m goaling writing my next book in a month. It has a 50k rough draft goal. At 3k per day, that’s 16 writing days. And if I can get my writing speed up because I’m writing faster? I think it’s still 16 3 hour days because the days I wrote 5k I sat at the keyboard for an extra hour per day to make up the time from the days I couldn’t get to the writing.

So that’s the goal for the next project:

16 days writing. Want to see my plans? I’ll be detailing my calendar in my next writing post. Want to see how I do? Check in at the end of September and we’ll see how we’re doing. Thousands of people achieve this very goal in the month of November. The most I’ve ever written in 30 days is 30,000 words.

Life? Challenge accepted. Superhero, here I come!

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

2 Comments

Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing organization

Resistance is Futile: And other writing myths

Moonday Mania

a blog for the readers and writers

I’ts hot! And to keep my mind off of the heat this summer, I’ve been blogging on the five top things I’ve learned writing romance. Today we’re on number four: There is such thing as resistance.

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene.
  2. The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible and roll with it.
  3. There is no such thing as the muse.
  4. There is such a thing as resistance.
  5. Writing is a muscle. Use it, or lose it.

Now on with today’s blog:

Resistance Exists

A few years ago someone gave me the fabulous book on resistance The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Stephen Pressfield. It introduced me to the concept of resistance: the idea that once you decide to do something creative you immediately create roadblocks for yourself.

Now, I’m not going to go into all of that here, you should read the book. It’s truly a classic for any creative trying to achieve anything. Basically, we all throw up roadblocks when we want to succeed at any endeavor and Stephen Pressfield labels this “resistance”.

I can see this all the time, especially in my teenagers. The classic line at our house from our kids is: “The problem is…” and then they’ll list the reasons why whatever solution we’ve come up with is not going to work. Or just plain wrong.

But it’s not just the kids, it’s me too!

Whenever I face something difficult, it happens to me too. When I try to make time to get back to writing my book I find myself saying, “I’d get that done, but the problem is…” And what’s bad is that the problems are legitimate. I do have too many important things to do. Cleaning the house, cooking quality food, exercising—all of that is important. And taking care of family emergencies is super important and with two aging parents and two maturing new adults there are a lot of family emergencies.

Or, maybe it’s legitimate work that is book related, but not actually writing. Because you see, there are always tons of things to do that are not writing paranormal romance, but are very important. Like blogging!

The fact is: I’m not lying to myself, or to my spouse, or even to the world in general, there are reasons why I should not be doing any creative work. And they are all legitimate. But without the writing, there are no books.

Woah! Then how does anything get done?

If you let life intervene, nothing else gets done. That’s the simple truth. If I let all my excuses, valid or not, keep me from writing. And I want to write books, don’t I?

The real question behind resistance is not: are your excuses are valid? It’s: how badly do you want to create, or succeed, or take risks?

And the real answer is: How willing are you to face your fears?

Because that’s what it really comes down to. Legitimate or not, all those excuses are just excuses—reasons why we are not doing what we set out to do because, for whatever reason, we’re afraid. How do I know that my family issues, cooking, cleaning, whatever… are only roadblocks and not reasons I can’t write? Because I’ve seen other people do it. People with full time jobs, five kids (one of whom has a disability), and just as dirty houses write books. And some of them write way more than I do.

Excuses are resistance. They are my way of avoiding what I’m afraid of. Now, what exactly is that? Well, that’s another blog topic all together. Or therapy session. LOL!

How do I overcome resistance?

Back to Stephen Pressfield’s book, THE WAR OF ART. You have to do it every day. So that’s my challenge. I struggle with writing new fiction words on a daily, sometimes even weekly basis. Because real life interferes, and I let it. Stephen says you have to face resistance every day, and that’s the real war of art.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

I’m always saying, I’ll try to do this. But I need to apply my inner Yoda and just do.

What are you not doing? What are you avoiding in your life, creative or otherwise, that is a form of resistance? Have you read THE WAR OF ART? Have you tried, ahem, done the work? How did it work out?

Tune in next week for topic number five: Writing is a muscle, use it or lose it

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

Leave a comment

Filed under channeling success, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Release: The Mercenary and the Shifters, by CD Hersh

Whimsical Wednesday

a blog where anything can happen

Announcing CD Hersh’s latest book: The Mercenary and the Shifters

(The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

        51ywcdcq1xl

When mercenary soldier Michael Corritore answers a desperate call from an ex-military buddy, he finds himself in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient war between two shape shifter factions, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

Shape shifter Fiona Kayler will do anything to keep the shipping company her father left her, including getting in bed with the enemy. But when she believes the man trying to steal her company is involved with kidnapping her nephew, she must choose between family, fortune, and love. The problem is … she wants all three.

Title – The Mercenary and the Shifters, The Turning Stone Chronicles, book four

Author – C.D. Hersh

Genre – Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Suspense Romance

Heat Level – Sensual

Release Date: July 27th, 2016

Excerpt:

Mike Corritore wheeled up the circular drive of the impressive house on Lakeshore Road and cut the engine on his motorcycle. After a quick glance around, he shouldered the bags containing his clothes, ammo, pump shotgun, and talwar sword. Then he headed for the carved front door. The doorbell echoed inside indicating the mansion had a cavernous entry hall. He searched the entrance stoop for security cameras and found none.

What the heck had he gotten himself into? A rich bitch, with no security on her home, mixed up with a bad syndicate spelled major trouble. With this chintzy level of security, it would take more time than he originally anticipated to make her house and business secure.

After a couple of minutes the door opened.

“Can I help you?” asked an attractive redhead.

“I’m Mike Corritore. Here to see Fiona Kayler. Will you tell her I’ve arrived?”

The redhead looked him over, then braced her legs shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her curvy bust. “Do you have identification, Mr. Corritore?”

Mike returned her once-over. Her porcelain complexion blushed pink at his bold examination, and she tossed her mane of wavy, mahogany hair defiantly.

Damn, she was gorgeous.

If she thought her insolent pose enough to keep him, or intruders out, she’d better reconsider.

“Hugh sent me.” He stepped forward but she blocked him.

“A driver’s license for your very expensive motorcycle will suffice,” she said, wiggling her fingers at him. When he didn’t comply, she stepped back and reached to the side of the door.

The distinct cachung of a gun cocking sent him flying to the right of the doorway.

“Identification, Mr. Corritore. Please,” she said as she leveled a pistol at him.

Mike dug in his rear pants’ pocket. “Hugh lied,” he said as he held out his driver’s license. “You don’t need protection.”

After inspecting his identification, she lowered her weapon and waved him inside. “For my business, Mr. Corritore. I’m capable of protecting my home, but I can’t draw my gun just anywhere.”

“You should get a conceal and carry license,” Mike said as he entered.

She put the safety on the gun and stashed the weapon in the table beside the front door.

“I take it you’re not the help,” he said, glancing around the entry hall.

She held out her hand. “Fiona Kayler. Nice to meet you, Mr. Corritore.”

“Mike,” he said, taking her hand. Her palm, warm and soft, told him she lived a life of leisure. But her strong grip screamed, No patsy. He held her hand a bit longer than he should have. She wriggled free and waved him to the left.

“Ladies first.”

With a nod, she led him toward a sumptuously decorated room. He followed, his eyes taking in the soft curves of her rear as she sashayed across the marble-tiled floor. Mike’s body reacted to the seductive wiggle of her bottom. She walked as sexy as she looked.

Keep your mind on the job, Corritore. He shifted his gaze away from temptation, searching the ceiling and corners of the entry for security cameras. If she had them, they were well hidden.

The measured click of her high heels on the hard marble tile floor disappeared as they stepped on the thick, white carpet of the living room. This room appeared cozier than the entry. A huge gold, gilt-edged mirror hung over the fireplace reflecting the scene outside the oversized plate-glass window.

She motioned to a seat beside the fireplace. Mike chose a location less exposed to the exterior, where he could watch the entrance to the room. Fiona dragged a side chair across the room to where he sat, positioning it at a right angle to his seat. Two vertical furrows appeared in the carpeting, bisecting their shoe impressions and the vacuumed paths in the thick fibers. Apparently, she didn’t use this room much.

“So, Ms. Kayler—”

“Fiona,” she corrected.

“Fiona, exactly what do you need me to do?” As he said the words, he had a lurid vision of what he’d like to do to this lovely woman. He shook it off. She was Hugh’s friend and in trouble. He had no business screwing around with damsels in distress. They were needy. The last thing he wanted.

“A couple of years ago I had a problem with smugglers. They brought in some hazardous materials which got me in trouble with Homeland Security and the FBI. They cleared me, but my business took a pretty big hit. To keep things afloat, I’ve had to get in bed with some rough characters recently.”

At the phrase get in bed with Mike cocked his eyebrow at her.

“Not literally,” she amended quickly, as a dusky pink blush crept over her pale complexion. “I need my security beefed up so I don’t have a replay of two years ago.”

“Any good security company could upgrade you.”

“I also need someone I can trust implicitly. Hugh vouched for you, and I trust Hugh.”

“We should start with your home security. I didn’t see surveillance cameras at the door.”

“My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

 

Amazon buy links for The Turning Stone Chronicles

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1):

eBook: http://amzn.com/B00DUMODKI

paperback: http://amzn.com/1619353504

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2):

eBook: http://amzn.com/B00OVNFC8W

paperback: http://amzn.com/1619358271

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3):

eBook: http://amzn.com/B00XK3E172

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4):

eBook: https://amzn.com/B01I01W2JC

 

c d hersch

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

Together they have co-authored a number of dramas, six which have been produced in Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. Their most recent collaborative writing efforts have been focused on romance. The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a Christmas novella, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow, with seven other authors.

Where you can find CD:

Website: http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/

Blog: http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/blog-2/

Soul Mate Publishing: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdhershauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/C.-D.-Hersh/e/B00DV5L7ZI

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCDHersh

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CDHersh

 

5 Comments

Filed under Book Sales, romance, shifters, Whimsical Wednesdays

The Writing Muse, and other deadly myths.

Moonday Mania

a blog for the readers and writers

This summer, I’ve been blogging on the five top things I’ve learned writing romance and today we’re on number three: There is no such thing as the muse.

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene.
  2. The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible and roll with it.
  3. There is no such thing as the muse.
  4. There is such a thing as resistance.
  5. Writing is a muscle. Use it, or lose it.

Now on with today’s blog:

There is no debate among professional writers: the muse is a myth.

I first read about this total disbelief in the writing muse in Stephen King’s On Writing. A fabulous book that almost scared me so much, I nearly stopped writing altogether. Luckily, I persevered.

Why?

Because of that mythical muse.

Huh? If the muse doesn’t exist, then how could it have motivated me to write?

Well, I’ll tell you. Productive, professional writers are correct, from horror to romance to thrillers they all say the same thing: If you want to actually publish and be successful, you cannot wait around for inspiration to strike. I let too many things interrupt my writing schedule, but I know that in order to be successful you have to sit down in the chair and write. No matter if you don’t have the time, or the energy, or the muse hasn’t shown up. You just write.

This is what a synopsis is for.

When I don’t know what to write, when my characters don’t want to cooperate, it doesn’t matter—because I have a synopsis to guide me. I don’t have to have inspiration to get myself kick-started. And, if that piece isn’t the most inspiring, that’s okay. That’s what editing is for. And believe me, I edit. A lot.

So, wait a minute. Didn’t you just say that the muse kept you in the game when your fear of Stephen King almost made you stop?

Yeah, I did say that. That’s because this is where I believe in the myth. The muse may not have to show up every day to get you to write. Writing is a job and muse or not, you need to do it. But, the muse does have to show up sometime. And when she does, wow! That’s when your fingers fly over the pages. Or it happens when you’re out walking and a fabulous idea for a tricky scene pops into your head. Or, she visits you in your sleep and whispers into your dreams.

That’s what the muse is for. Kick-starting. Not for everyday working the job.

So…here’s the skinny:

Get to work without the muse, but be grateful when she does flit into your writer cave; because, those are the moments that make it wonderful to be a writer.

Tune in next week for topic number four: There is such thing as resistance.

 

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

2 Comments

Filed under channeling success, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Squee! The Winter Queen’s Dragon Cover is here!

Thursday’s Bite

a blog for fantasy romance lovers

I am super excited to reveal the cover for Book Four in the Tales of the Black Court, my fantasy romance series. I love the new direction for my fantasy covers. It keeps so many elements from the first covers—the font, the magic, a single person—but it adds in something new: the hero!

Ever since I started publishing this series I’ve had readers ask, where are the heroes? They should be on the covers too. And for this book, I’m featuring Doyle, my sexy dragon shifter. Love writing this romance between a fae and a shifter, and I can’t wait until it’s out!

the winter queen's dragon a fantasy romance by jessica aspen

What’s a heroine to do when her dragon captor is not only her enemy’s best defense…
but is also the man of her dreams?

Deep in the north of the fae world of Underhill, Siobhan has been frozen for a hundred years. Finally gaining her freedom from the ice the only thing on her mind is vengeance. Instead, she becomes the prisoner of the Winter Queen’s Dragon: Atavantador. But nothing is as it seems. To become powerful enough to get her revenge, Siobhan must make an unlikely ally—the dragon’s sexy manservant, Doyle.

Doyle is hiding more than one secret—and all of them are worth his life. To keep the queen on his side he must play the game of dragon so well that no one guesses his true secret: beneath the Winter Palace lies one of the keys to all dragon kind’s survival.

And time is running out.

Can Siobhan trust a man who is secretly her dragon captor and sworn to protect the Winter Palace? Or will she find out that ending a queen’s reign means sacrificing true love in her quest for revenge.

Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of fast-paced fantasy romance
 Tales of the Black Court

 

*****

Pre-order today at:

Ibooks       Kobo       Barnes & Noble

 

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

4 Comments

Filed under Fae, Fantasy Romance, shifters, The Winter Queen's Dragon, Thursdays Bite

Lesson Two From the Writing Path:Your characters will try to wrestle for the controls

Moonday Mania

a blog about writers, writing and the roadblocks we all face

Last week I started this series of blogs about my romance writing lessons, well, roadblocks really, with a post on how life gets in the way of my goals. You can read that HERE. This week I’m addressing lesson two. And in the following weeks I’ll be hitting the other three top lessons I’ve learned by writing and publishing paranormal romance.

On writing, plotting, and how characters are lying in wait, ready to derail your best laid plots.

Lesson number two:

The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible, and roll with it.

You’ve heard of it. Writers who detail all their plots in advance, and then stick to every single plot point.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those writers are the minority. You see, writers are divided into different camps. There are the pantsers: those who don’t plot at all, but just sit down and write, never knowing where the plot is going. Then there are those stick in the mud, rigid plotters: they stick tight to their plan, even if the characters beg plead and threaten mutiny. But most of us are somewhere in the middle. We have an idea of the story. We know the begining, maybe the middle, and the end. We know the highlights.

Some of us fill in the story from there. Some of us, like me, write down as much as they can of the plot points from begining to end, trying to peg down the route like you would plan your summer road trip. But, as we all know, not all road trips are smooth driving.

Yeah, those characters are frustrating sometimes.

It’s taken me a long time to work out how to plot a story. I have a very effective method that gives me a beginning, middle, end—and lots of hot romance and exciting plot points in between. But rarely do I end up sticking with the whole thing. That’s because, even though I have my plot down, my characters are never quite pressed out. They tend to pop up with ideas and motivations that I had no idea about when I was outlining their stories. And so, I need to be flexible and change the story when they ask for it.

Demand it.

Absolutely refuse to cooperate until I rewrite.

Characters drive the story.

In addition to outlining your story, you have to decide if your tale is plot driven or character driven. While I love having a good, fast-paced plot, in romance the characters have to drive the story. That’s because, no matter what else is going on, it’s the emotional changes of the couple and how they go from not meshing to totally being immersed in each other, that is the essence of romance.

And that’s where my characters will change my plot lines.

I’ll think the plot goes one way, and that’s a perfectly great way for the plot to go, and then the characters’ emotional changes will move the plot an entirely different way. A great example of that is in the third book in the Tales of the Black Court. I knew the Black Queen had to die. I’d known it since the first book. But, when it came time for her to die, she threw a total twist at me. I’m not going to spoil it for people who haven’t read Broken Mirror, but suffice to say, Aeval’s death was nothing like I’d planned.

And that’s okay. That just means that I have another book to write!

Does life ever throw you curves when you think you have it all plotted out? Do people sometimes do things totally unexpectedly? 

Want to read the rest of my five lessons from writing romance?

Here are the rest of the lessons I’ll be addressing.

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene. (Check out the first post)
  2. The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible and roll with it. (That’s this one!)
  3. There is no such thing as the muse. (Next week’s post)
  4. There is such a thing as resistance.
  5. Writing is a muscle. Use it, or lose it.

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

5 Comments

Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Lessons from the Writing Path

Moonday Mania

a blog about writing, writers, and um, well, not writing

Whether it’s the big American novel or writing paranormal romance or blogging, writing is a journey of self discovery.

I’ve been a writer for, what seems like, all of my life. But I only got serious about it in 2008. That’s when I buckled down and said I was finishing a book. Any book. And that book turned out to be THE DARK HUNTSMAN. I had no idea that it would lead me to continue writing twisted fairy tale romance for the next few years, or that it would lead to a five book series. But here I am, writing book number four in the TALES OF THE BLACK COURT, and knowing book number five is not that far away.

So, what have I learned on this writing journey? 

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene.
  2. The plot can be thought out in advance, but the characters are bound to have issues with whatever you’ve decided. So be flexible and roll with it.
  3. There is no such thing as the muse.
  4. There is such a thing as resistance.
  5. Writing is a muscle. Use it, or lose it.

Turns out it’s so much, I need to divide it into multiple blogs, so today I’m addressing the first of five things I’ve learned on my writing path:

  1. As soon as I think I’m on a writing roll, life will intervene. 

I can decide to write. I can have the time and get started and the words are flowing out from my frantically typing fingers at a terrific rate, daily. But, if I decide that this means I can hit multiple deadlines…I get screwed. Life shows up and steals my time and suddenly that deadline is looming and my writing squeals to a STOP!!!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/84388958@N03/7729300102/in/photolist-cM1FCS-dVCQB9-fekqPf-fnCBmJ-dm9hSQ-dc7cwR-fe67oX-dTVms3-fekr2d-fnor2P
Clover Autrey, Creative Commons, MyWana Flickr

So, what to do?

I still need deadlines. They motivate me in a way that nothing else does. Call it fear motivation. Fear of disappointing my readers, my editor, myself. So I still set them. And I still beat myself up when I miss them, even if it’s due to someone else’s life falling apart and me riding to the rescue. Or vacation needing three weeks to catch up at the day job, instead of the one week I planned. Or whatever.

Deadlines work. What doesn’t work is panicking and sitting on the couch eating ice cream when I miss one. So, back to the keyboard we go. Every time life rears up it’s head to say, sorry—no hitting your deadline for you! I fight back. I keep trying. I move the deadline, or move projects, or call up whomever it is that I made that deadline-promise to and apologize profusely while begging for a few more weeks.

Is it ideal? No. Of course not. ‘snort’ Ideal would be for everyone else’s life to leave my deadlines alone. For me to never get sick. For my day job to never have it’s ups and downs. Ideal would be if I could predict when those things are going to happen and adjust the deadlines before they come due. Preferably, before even setting the deadlines.

But life happens.

So…

I keep setting deadlines. Because if I don’t, nothing happens. No writing gets done, no books get published. And I want all of that to happen.

How about you? What do you do when you set deadlines and life rears it’s ugly head and attacks? Do you give in and wallow in your failures? Or do you regroup, set new deadlines, and get to work?

Want to see what else I’ve learned on this romance writing journey? I’ll be writing about the rest of the things I’ve learned on my writing path over the next few blogs, so check back next week and find out how I wrangle plotting vs characters.

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

1 Comment

Filed under About the Author, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Just one of those no good very bad terrible days

Moonday Mania

a blog for the ACK! no good very bad terrible day

Have you ever had one of those days?

The kind that started off wrong from the very begining and then went down hill on wheels? Or maybe, it started off decievingly fine, and then the rampent one-after-another problems started. That was my weekend. I thought I had it all under control. I thought I had the ability to spend a lovely sunny weekend heading to my neighbors for an all-street neighborhood ice cream party and then relaxing with my family.

But no. Life was waiting to ambush me.

I returned home and decided to send out the prizes from my latest newsletter campaign and what do you know? I found out that the brand new, took me an hour to set up, email addy was screwed up. This is the one that was supposed to save my butt from getting my own email domain name and paying out big bucks. But it wasn’t working.

All the people who, instead of sending their emails to my regular address and had hit reply to my newsletter, were hanging in limbo. Not only that, it asked them to open an account, and that was super confusing. So, I spent Saturday afternoon moving my website to a paid location and trying to get a new email addy with my own name on it. Grrr.

jessica aspenNot only was this not what I wanted to do, but it was super stressful. I don’t like filling in those forms on a good day, but when I have to make all kinds of decisions about things I really don’t understand, and create multiple passwords, it becomes a no-good, very bad, terrible kind of day.

Damn the auto-fil!

I kept making errors. And the auto-fil didn’t help. You see, I have two names, and I do bills for my folks, so sometimes that auto-fill puts the wrong info in the boxes. And I correct it. Then something is wrong, the page resets and the auto-fill changes everything. Grr.

Anyway, that was Saturday and I went to bed totally stressed. Sunday I started off stressed, but Sunday the karma was much better and everything was running smoothly. My website made the shift over to the new service provider without a hitch and I set up the new email. Almost. It’s still doing something where it figures out where everything is, so it’s still not recieving any emails, but I’m confident that will fix itself.

So confident I took my free time to write this blog!

Hope you all had a better weekend than I did and you are having a fabulous start to summer!

Cheers,

Jessica

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

Leave a comment

Filed under About the Author, Moonday mania

To Backstory Or Not To Backstory

Thursdays Bite

a blog to explain to readers

Like most authors, I struggle with reading my reviews. Do I want to know what people liked and disliked? Or maybe I don’t. If it’s a fabulous review, of course I want to read it. But, if it’s negative, especially if I feel like it’s undeserved, it can be rough reading.

Good reviews make me happy dance. Good reviews make me smile. Good reviews sell books. But bad reviews do everything you’d expect them to do—all the opposites. So why read them?

Well, sometimes they also show you your book’s weakness. When I write a book I have to make all kinds of decisions, and one of the decisions is how much backstory to include. That’s especially difficult if the book occurs at the same time as another book and the reader might be reading both books. (At least I’m hoping you’re reading both books.)

When someone reads the books in order, it works very well. They get all the backstory for book two from book one. So they don’t feel like they missed out. And when they get to book two? Well, they don’t feel like I’ve dumped loads of information they’ve already read into the book.

We’ve all read those books. The ones with pages and pages of what happened last time that, if you are really hooked, you just skip. But, if you are not hooked, it makes you put the book down. How much backstory belongs in a book? Too much, too little, just the right amount? How is an author to know?

In SILVER I cut an entire scene where she fights with her sister Scarlett. Why? because it was in Scarlett’s story and I assumed most readers would read books 1-4 and not just pick up book 5. Scarlett’s story is heavy on the sister relationships and covers it in detail, but, you don’t know that if you only read Silver. And that’s what some people do. Crazy, I know. Okay, I do that kind of thing all the time, pick up a series in the middle. But what were the odds that readers would stumble across a book that was so co-dependent with it’s sister book that they really are almost one long story?

In fact, I actually removed a lot of the sister story because my editor said it was repetitious and she was bored. I don’t want to bore readers with repeated story lines. Especially not the readers who are my fans and ARE reading the books in order. But maybe I cut too much?

So, back to those reviews. That’s where this type of issue shows up. I leave out some of the repeated scenes, and guess what, the reader who doesn’t read book #4 misses out when they jump straight to book #5. But do I go back and put in a scene just to show what happened? Do I info dump on the readers who did read the previous book? Do I take the review and fix the issue? Or do I just go on my merry way and keep writing new books and take that information into consideration for future books?

This is especially difficult because I tried something different with these two books. They run concurrently, so they are on the same time frame. I wrote them with the intention that you had to read both. It was an experiment. So, should authors experiment? Maybe that’s a topic for another blog.

Here’s what I’m considering. Not fixing the book. Okay, it’s an issue, but it would be a major rewrite to add in all the sister stuff, it’s already covered in the other book, and it would make it a full length book and not a novella.

BUT…

I still want to fix the issue. Because it is a legitimate complaint. Readers who pick up a book in the middle of a series definitely can expect to miss some backstory, but in this case, it may be a needed component. So I’m considering taking down the two books as separate published entities and only publishing them as an omnibus of books 4&5. That way all of the issues would be addressed in the same book.

In the meantime, the books are the way they are. But I’m thinking of adding to the warning that I put in the front of all of my fairytale books. What do you think of—

BEWARE: There is a serious lack of backstory ahead. If you want the backstory and know all about the relationship between Scarlett and Silver, read the book that comes before this.

And maybe, also addressing the issue in the letter in the back. I don’t want readers missing out on an important component of the story.

On the other hand, I’m knee deep in writing more books, so I also don’t want to take tons of time away from those. I want them to come out in a timely fashion. And I know most of you are waiting for the next one.

What do you think?

Should I squish them together into one book? Or, should I simply address it in the front and back of the book and let readers who pick up the book on it’s own know that they can find out all about the sister stuff in Scarlett? Leave me a comment and let me know your opinion.

Scarlett: A Sexy Shifter Fairytale Romance by Jessica AspenSilver: A Sexy Shifer Fairytale Romance by Jessica Aspen

***

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s newsletter and get your link to download your exclusive FREE book, please click HERE.

Rogue Enforcer by jessica aspen

Leave a comment

Filed under Sexy Shifter Fairytale Romance, Thursdays Bite, Writer's Journey, writing craft

Unplugged

I’m just flying home from a fabulous week on the beach where I put my phone and tablet into the hotel room safe, and didn’t look back. It’s a funny thing in this day and age not to be constantly in touch with your friends, your family, the world. And it really is the world you are leaving behind. Because of the Internet I now am in daily contact with friends from all over; Canada, the U.K., everywhere. It’s amazing. But it’s also consuming.

When I told my brother that I didn’t think my phone would work out of the country and that I wasn’t going to be on the Internet much, but that I would try to check email every day he said, “Well I can contact you via Facebook, right?”

And I said, “No, I’m not going to be looking at Facebook.”

“Well then, we can do a Hangout, if I need to get ahold of you. That should work out of the country.”

I just shook my head. “What don’t you understand about not being on the Internet?”

It was almost inconceivable to him that I was truly unplugging.

It turned out that I checked my email a few times during the last eight days. Not every day. I kept forgetting. I was busy. Busy doing nothing.

And it felt fabulous.

I talked to people, face to face. I danced with my husband. I sat on the beach and soaked up the vitamin D and didn’t even read while I did it. Sometimes I think our new world, while amazing, takes over our lives. I love getting to know new people online. I love checking in and seeing what they are all doing. But I also loved checking out.

And you know what? I think I’m going to try to do it more often. Not because I don’t love all my FB friends and family, but because I loved getting to know that other side of myself. The side that shows up when I’m not frantically online, writing, reading, keeping up with all the things I “have” to do. The inner side of me.

As a writer I do look inside, but not as much as I used to before I become a Internet social butterfly. Writing is an internal thing, but it’s also inspired by what’s outside. But what if you start to look so far outside, you forget to look inside? What happens to my writing then?

And what about you? What have you done for that inner self lately? Whether you are a writer or not, consider nurturing it by taking some time and unplugging and seeing what the other world has in store for you. Your inner world, the one outside of all the hustle and bustle.

4 Comments

Filed under About the Author, Whimsical Wednesdays