Category Archives: Optimisim

Getting through life’s ups and downs without losing it.

Why Write?

On Saturday I did something I love to do. I spent the day socializing with my peeps at the Colorado Romance Writers mini-con.There was something for everyone. An editor, Kristen Sevick of Tor/Forge, for pitches. A silent auction, which I am happy to report was full of wonderful critiques and gift baskets. And of course a whole day spent sucking up the wisdom of our guest, Kara Lennox.

Kara has published sixty-eight books. Sixty-eight! In an amazing feat Kara provided a one-woman conference, doing workshop after workshop for the whole day. We started with queries, moved through three act structure and right on into movie tricks for romance writers. Her plot-fixers and agent advice finished out a marvelous day of information overload.

Even when its a topic I think I know something about, I still learn something. I took pages and pages of notes and intend on reviewing them to see what I’ve already forgotten. For example, the three act structure. I use a plot structure when I write that is based on something like three act structure. I am going to do exactly what she suggested and peek into my mid-point and see if its where it should be. Did it move during those many revisions?Kara used movies as her examples. She explained that movies are exactly three acts and when you write screenplays, there had better be three acts. Its something I do and something I’ve learned, but the way she explained it has me wanting to pull out my stopwatch and check my Disney movies for their exact mid-points and black moments.

Many authors want to ignore structure and fly by the seat of their pants, but even fly-by-fabric writers should have some sort of map. Kara said many people think the three act structure is hardwired into our brains. That we look for it, and if an author doesn’t stay close to it, the reader feels cheated.

The most exciting thing for me was seeing that even after so many books, and the ups and downs of a long career, Kara is still excited about writing. She loves her plots and characters. She’s written category romance and screenplays and hopes to publish in single title, but the common theme for the long, long, long day was her enthusiasm.

She kept us interested right to the end. I always wondered how anyone could be as prolific as a Harlequin author. How do they keep coming up with new plots that are fresh and interesting book after book. After listening to Kara, I think I know the secret.

She loves it. You can see as she talks that she feels lucky to have made a career out of romance. And who wouldn’t? A lifetime of creating new stories, new characters and new happy ever afters? Why wouldn’t everyone be struggling to do this for a living? Well, maybe because it isn’t the easiest thing to do. You have to be prolific to pay the bills and there are the rejections and revisions.

But seeing someone who has been successful and prolific and still loves writing? That’s a calling. That’s inspirational. That’s who I want to be.

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Blog Backlog

Most of you know my goal is to become a published author. Not just published, but a successful author. Might as well aim high. To get there I set goals. And I love setting goals. Every month I review my goals, see what I’ve done and what I haven’t done. But the other thing I do is I try to look ahead. That is a very tough thing for me because I am a procrastinator.

I’ve had some help looking ahead. No, its not my crystal ball. I’ve been able to see authors in my chapter (like Ashley March) and how their experiences went. I also took a fab bootcamp on Riding the Roller Coaster by Angi Morgan.  And now I’m watching my friend Sherry Isaac  get ready for her release date. Wow, is there a tremendous amount of work involved in that.

(Sherry is setting up blog tours right now for July and August, and guess what? I’m excited to announce she will be blogging here in both July and August, so stay tuned for more announcements.)

Both Ashley and Angi were stunned by the amount of work they needed to do when releasing their first book. If you don’t have a website you need to do that. Establish a web presence, learn about self-promotion, get head-shots, business cards. The list goes on and on. Oh and don’t forget edit the book, and they both had to write their second books at the same time.

So I’ve decided to start a backlog of blogs. I may not need to use them. I may have fresh and stunning ideas when my thirty-fifth blog of the week hits. But just in case, I am going to write two blogs a week for the next few months and stash some of them where you can’t see them! Mean, huh. I already have a file of ideas that I have yet to dive into. Its my just-in-case-the-muse-doesn’t-show file. So far, she’s always shown up, so I’m okay. But there will come a day when the fickle bitch doesn’t show up. No, wait, I didn’t mean to call her that! There will come a day when she’s sick, or busy, or just plain too tired and then what am I going to do?

On that day, when I’m not feeling so hot and I’ve committed myself to too many outside activities and the edits are due and the blog is due. On that day I will be ready, because this is one of the many steps I need to take. The step of changing my procrastinating ways and walking on the right side of the muse. And if she doesn’t show up (which I’ve heard she sometimes does) I’ll be ready to walk by myself right over to the blog storage unit and pull out an instant blog. And I’ll be thumbing my nose at the muse as I go.

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Looking for Open Doors

I’m doing what I almost never do: bouncing off of someone else’s blog. But Elaine Cougler’s blog really got me thinking. Elaine attended the eWomen Network conference and blogged about a session by Olga Sheean. You should check out Elaine’s blog, but what I got out of it, and what I’m going to talk about here, is the idea that we need to stop the negative self-talk about publisher availability. Now its no secret that I don’t actually believe in the Secret. The idea that if you just open your heart to success, it will be there like a stray dog, anxious to get into your life. But I do believe in the underpinnings of it, that if you  open your heart to success it will be there. But only if you go to the shelter and look for it.

I love this idea, that Elaine brought back from Olga’s session, that all our talk about the gloom and doom of publishing is closing doors for us. One of the traps for writers is this kind of negative self-talk, and you hear it everywhere. At conferences. At meetings. At workshops. Online all the buzz is about the dying publishing industry and how hard it is for newbies to get published. Okay, its not the easiest thing in the world. Did you think it would be?

Okay, I actually did. I had this idea that since I had read some really bad published books, and my writing was better than that, that I could get published. No problem. But it hasn’t worked out that way, and I’m glad. Now I’ve been forced to work on my writing, to make it better. I’m glad that the opportunity didn’t come up when my work was not very good. Now its better and I’m ready for it to get out there. So what are the steps to take? We’ve been over most of them. Keep trying, keep submitting, keep putting yourself out there. But this idea that you need to open your mind to there being, not just a publisher, but the right publisher for you. This is an amazing idea.

I’ve been thinking about this with agents. That we don’t just want any agent. We want one that fits our personality. Yes, I want honesty, but I don’t want someone who is cruel. Yes, I want expectations, but I don’t want someone who is unrealistic. Yes, I want success, but I don’t want someone so busy I can’t ever get a hold of them. So that’s my agent short-list, what about a publisher?

Today I am opening my mind to not only there being a publisher out there for me, but the right publisher. I want a publisher who will market my books and promote my career. I want a publisher who will be excited about my work. And I want a publisher who will pay me well. Why not? It’s not that we open these doors with out thoughts, its that we see the open doors. There are lots of lost pets out there, you not looking for them doesn’t change that. What changes is when you think to look for one. Think there is a place in your house and your heart. There are publishers out there and they are looking for writers. Are you looking for them?

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AAACK! Nearly Halfway Through the Year and Still Editing!

We don’t usually talk about goals in May, but we should. May is a month when I look at summer approaching and think: “Wow! It’s here again!” And this year I am hitting May and realizing my yearly goals are totally lost. What happened to the first part of 2011? I thought I had more time and yet here I am almost halfway through the year.

Did I slack off? Did I not write? Did I totally ignore what is supposed to be my reason for being? No. I wrote a lot. I just didn’t stick to the plan. What plan? You know, the plan where I said I would finish a second book. Oh yeah, that one.

I look at my yearly goals and first I cringe. I was supposed to have a good chunk of the rough draft done by now! Fifty-thousand words by June. Not there. But what did I do instead? I got sidetracked. Seduced by the opportunity of a quick pitch contest I diverted from my course and now I find myself way off track, but with two finished novellas.

That’s good, but not where I wanted to be. So what is my new plan? Back to the old plan. Re-visit, re-vamp, re-do. Because its only May. And I can still hammer out a rough draft before the end of the year. I can possibly even polish it enough to call it finished. So I’m not giving up. I am still trapped in the edit swamp for my first ms. I can’t seem to get out. But I am determined that this is the last run through. After this, it is time to get serious and submit it. Again.

And those novellas? Well one needs another run through of edits. That swamp is never letting me go! And then it is off to the e-pubs. And the second one. Well that second one is my ace up my sleeve. You see, while I was writing it and keeping it to a measly twenty-five thousand words, I kept thinking there was a bigger book in it. And now that it didn’t make it in the pitch contest, I don’t have to restrict it anymore, I can now expand it into a full length book.

So guess what! I’m now 25,000 words ahead in finishing my book this year. And it is a pretty polished 25,000 words too! So I’m way ahead. I may not hit 50k by June, but I will finish the rough draft this year. And then its back to the editing swamp for me.

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