Category Archives: writing craft

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Increasing Writing Speed…Five Minutes At A Time

Moonday Mania

a blog for the writer in all of us

It’s the end of July and I’m nearing the end of my Camp NaNoWrimo challenge. This time around I set my goal at 20,000 words for the month. And as of this writing I need less than 3k. For the first time ever, I will hit a Nano goal. WOOT! I may have to buy a tee-shirt!

Boosting production

Over the last two years I’ve spent more time editing my works than writing them. At least I think so. It seems like the writing takes a certain amount of time and the editing takes two to three times as long. So how can I increase my productivity? I have so many amazing plots swimming around my head. Just the other day I came up with a concept for a fantastic contemporary series. But I have three series already in progress. Wait, I actually have four because I have one I’ve never published. When am I supposed to write a new one?

The solution? Write faster.

I’ve already looked at this before with RACHEL AARON’S 5K TO 10K, and that really did help me at the time. With Rachel Aaron’s system you look at when you are most productive and where you are most productive and start there. And I did that. I love writing in the morning, after I’ve woken up, had my coffee, taken the dog for a walk, and had my shower. So, nine am. But…what’s happened since I figured that out is that my schedule changed. Time that I am most productive is now the time I have to be at my job. That’s a bummer. So my writing speed has dropped. I’m struggling to hit 1,500k per hour. And I’m struggling to find a consistent time to write.

Enter 5,000 WORDS PER HOUR: WRITE FASTER, WRITE SMARTER, by Chris Fox.

That’s right. You heard me. 5,000 words per hour.

Now right off the bat I know I’m not going to hit that. And I don’t want to sound self-depreciating when I say it. Chris says in order to hit the 5k mark you have to use dictation. And I’m not ready for that. Yet. Give me some time. No, what I want to do is hit 3k. Consistently. If I hit 3k per hour on a daily basis that would mean I could put out a novel in a month and still have time for that pesky editing in the other 23 hours of the day.

I could still have time to cook my healthy meals, exercise, take care of my kids, parents, dog, cat, and my husband. WOW! Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Sprint! Sprint! Sprint!

Chris starts you off with sprinting. Now I regularly set my timer for 45 minutes and write, but he suggests five minute sprints and to time yourself. He even has a free ap (only for the ipad or iphone) that will help you do this and keep track of your sprints. Chris has you write for five minutes than multiply by 12 to get your Words Per Hour. So I decided this weekend to commit to five minutes every morning. After the first cup of coffee. Or maybe the second.

What’s the benefit of five minute sprints?

  • Well, for one thing, they are very doable. At first I griped about doing even five minutes first thing in the morning. I’m not awake. I don’t have time. I need my coffee. (Okay, that last one is just pathetic. You can drink coffee while sprinting, although it does slow your time).
  • I was surprised to find that my speed was pretty consistent the first three times I did it. Right around (or below) 1500 WPH. I seriously thought I’d at least hit 2k, even though I’ve been writing at 1.5 k for my longer sprints, I always do 45 minutes. So 2k should be my speed. But it’s not.
  • You can really do a nice comparison with consistently using five minutes. I hadn’t thought about it before, but by cutting down the time I’m measuring and only focusing on writing for five minutes, I can really focus on the speed. And why I’m not writing faster.
  • Chris says that by using the sprints you can increase your overall time. And I can see that. When I do the sprints I’m really aware that I’m still going back and fixing my spelling, or plot, or whatever. You can’t do that and write fast.

So it’s off to my Monday morning sprint!

I’m committed to trying five minute sprints for a month and seeing how they work. If nothing else I’ll get an extra 138 words in per morning. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll increase that speed and hit that 2k mark by the end of the month. I only need an extra 29 words, or so. And if I quit fiddling, I know I can do that. And look at the difference that would make.

138 wpm x 31 days= 4,278 words per month

166wpm X 31 days =5,146  words per month

That’s an extra 868 words per month, in five minutes per day. Imagine what that would do if I applied this to all my writing?

How fast do you write in five minutes? Want to find out more?

Time yourself and see how fast you write. It’s eye opening what five minutes can do.

You can listen to a fantastic podcast with Chris on the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast HERE. And you can find his book on Amazon HERE. It’s super short, packed full of good information, and only $2.99

Stay tuned to see what happens next! I’ll be letting you know how its going and if Chris’s other steps help me gain extra words.

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 new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE.

 

Author web links:  

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

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

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE.

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Retreating and Writing Romance: a super fun combination

Moonday Mania

a blog that’s been AWOL for a while

Hello!

I haven’t been blogging very regularly since December and I figured it was time for an update. But never fear, instead of blogging I’ve been having fun at the Colorado Romance Writers’ annual retreat working hard at writing romance for you!

What do writer’s do at a writer’s retreat? Shh, don’t tell anyone, but we write. I know, I know, it’s a big secret. I’m letting the very fat cat out of the bag. But the truth is we romance writers do a few more things than write. One of the most fun things we get to do is get out into nature. When you are sitting all day concentrating on getting words on the paper, you need to stretch. And what better way to stretch than to see the Big Horn Sheep grazing outside of the cabin.

big horn sheep

Okay, this picture is from the car. But trust me, they were grazing right next to our porch all weekend.

 

And of course we need to take hikes in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I didn’t get to hike much, because I was slaving away on my plotting, but the area is so beautiful and the weather so warm, there was no way I was just sitting inside for three days. Especially since I’m working on my Colorado sexy shifter romances. The fresh vanilla scent of Ponderosa Pines and the sight of snow on the Rockies is perfect inspiration for writing wolves running through the trees.

And of course we have evenings by the fire drinking our wine, chatting about writing romance and the publishing industry. There’s nothing like chatting with people you enjoy about a subject you are obsessed about. And I am obsessed about writing romance.

Oh, and there is the food! We have fabulous food for our potluck lunches. And way too much chocolate. Can’t have romance without chocolate, now can you?

But in the end it’s all about the writing, so we spend a lot of our time working hard on our computers slaving away on our romances. Okay, we love it! That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?

Have you ever been on a writer’s retreat? What about a romance writer’s retreat? Where is the most fun location you can think of that you would have fun, but still be writing. Springtime in the Rockies does it for me. How about you?

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 new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE. 

Author web links:  

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

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

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE.

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Filed under About the Author, romance, writing craft

Get A Log Line Baby!

Moonday Mania

a nano-istic blog

NaNoWriMo PARTICIPANT 2014 graphicI’m starting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) today. Okay, it should have started on Saturday, but I couldn’t really start then. I had plans. And I’ll be blogging more about how that works with Nano next Moonday Mania, so check it out. We’re Nanoing romance all month on Jessica Aspen Writes!

So, how do you keep your focus and end up with a terrific story at the end of the month? Kristen Lamb knows. You need a log line. She wrote a terrific blog last week about why people fail with their stories and how even bad stories can get made into movies. Check it out:

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/write-a-terrific-novel-nano-minimize-revisions-improve-odds-of-finishing-and-publishing/

What is a log line? It’s your elevator pitch. The one thing you should be able to get out of your stumbling mouth when that famous agent, editor, author asks you when you’re waiting in line for drinks at the bar, “So, what’s your book about?”

A great place to learn about log lines and writing that story idea down is by checking out author Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method. If you follow me at all you know I’m a big Randy Ingermanson fan. I love the Snowflake method and it’s perfect for Nano.

You start with a character with a goal. It’s that simple. Frodo needs to get the ring to the mountain. But Randy suggests you put it into non-specific terms. Small, underestimated hero takes powerful evil ring across an entire world, facing great danger and discovering the meaning of loyalty and true friendship.

Okay, that’s more than the fifteen words Randy recommends, but you get the drift. Let’s winnow it down even farther:

Underestimated hero takes powerful evil ring across an entire world and discovers the meaning of true friendship.

Still more than fifteen, but I like it, so I’m leaving it.

Write it down on a sticky note and put it where you can see it when you write.

And that’s how you do a log line. And how you keep Nano and the end of the 50K in your focus.

Do you use log lines in your writing? Can you winnow down your favorite stories to just a few words? It’s actually a fun game. Go ahead and try 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 new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE.

 

Author web links:  

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

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

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email and get your link to download your free book, please click HERE.

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Filed under Moonday mania, Nanowrimo, Nanowrimo, writing craft

Research – Not the 4-Letter Word I Thought – Guest Author Sandra Kerns

Whimsical Wednesdays

Today I’m thrilled to have fellow Colorado Romance Writer, Sandra S. Kerns, on Jessica Aspen Writes. Today, Sandra tells us about her research efforts for her most recent romantic suspense novel Her Master Diver. Sandra’s romantic suspense has sailed up the charts and in a very short time she’s published twelve books, the most famous being her Masters Men series that features not just suspense, not just romance, but a family of tough, alpha heroes. Who doesn’t want an alpha hero to fall in love with and solve crimes? No wonder her books have been so successful. Welcome, Sandra, and thanks for blogging!

Research – Not the 4-Letter Word I Thought

I have never liked research. Maybe it’s the word. I love learning, but tell me I have to research something and I shut down. I do it, it’s part of a writer’s job, but I’ve never enjoyed it. Until now.

While brainstorming with a friend about the first sister’s book in the Masters Men series, my friend came up with the idea to do a female Indiana Jones. Her idea was that it would drive her over-protective brothers insane. I took it a step further and settled on an underwater archaeologist. Thankfully, my friend got the research ball rolling. The next week she brought me a list with maybe five sites to check out. She was so stoked I had to follow through.

Those first websites set me on a path to pirates, shipwrecks, underwater archaeologists, and a Try Scuba session. Talk about cool research!

I investigated the educational requirements needed to become an underwater archaeologist. After that, I needed a shipwreck to interest my characters, a ship that offered more than pirate treasure. I found it here: http://www.staugustinelighthouse.com/LAMP/Research/lostships.

La Trinité was the lead ship in a French fleet in 1565 landing near St. Augustine, Florida. Through this article, I found John deBry, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Historical Archaeology. I contacted him and he surprised me by inviting me to visit him and discuss the ship over a glass of wine. My husband and I were in Cocoa Beach, Florida, so we accepted his offer.

John’s love for his profession was contagious. He recommended three books and I bought them before we were back at our hotel. He told me no one has ever looked for La Trinité even though it had a major effect on our country’s history. Next year, John will be part of a dive for the ship as part of the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine, Florida.

I also needed to understand scuba diving. I have several friends who dive and were happy to share their knowledge and love for it. They even sent me an underwater video they took. I still didn’t know what it felt like, so I did Try Scuba. I was a bit apprehensive, I don’t even snorkel, but I gave it a go. It was amazing. It gave me a sense of how my heroine would feel underwater, the terminology, and equipment used. It made a huge difference.

This is just part of the research I needed. I can tell you this project taught me to enjoy research because not only does it help with writing a story, it can also give you the opportunity to try new things. For the first time, the research was almost as much fun as writing the book. For that reason, Her Master Diver will always be extra special to me.

So, the next time you’re reading a book that takes you somewhere you’ve never been, think about the journey the writer took to bring you there.

Happy Reading!

Sandra

Her Master Diver by Sandra S. KernsHer Master Diver

Blaze thought leaving school would get her life back on track. It seems to be working as she’s invited on the dive of her dreams. Then life throws her into a storm, a break-in, hit and run, sabotage and murder all center around her. Can Blaze and her charismatic project manager unravel the problems surrounding the expedition, or will her Masters men brothers have to fly out to save the day?

 

Author Bio:

Sandra S Kerns

Originally from upstate New York, Sandra now lives in Northern Colorado where she writes romantic suspense. She belongs to Romance Writer’s of America and two of its chapters as well as Crested Butte Writers. She has won or placed in several writing awards including CRW’s Heart of the Rockies, Crested Butte Writers’ Sandy, and Kiss Of Death’s Daphne. She enjoys speaking at conferences and writing groups, as well as encouraging other writers, both young and old. While writing and talking about it are enjoyable, she really loves interacting with her readers on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

Sandra S. Kerns, authorWebsite: sandrakerns.com

Twitter: @sandraskerns

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SandraSKerns

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandrakerns96/

Google+: Sandra Kerns on Google+

 

 

 

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Filed under romantic suspense, Suspense, Whimsical Wednesdays, writing craft

Novella to Novel, the perils of writing short

Moonday Mania

a blog about writing short

I’ve written novellas before. All three of my Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods sexy, shifter romances are novella length romances. Okay, so they’re long novellas, but they’re still novellas! At between 32,000 and 36,000 they hit just under the cutoff that Romance Writers of America uses for novella: 40,000 words. So…when I decided to write a short contemporary romance novella with paranormal elements for my new Haunted Holidays series—I knew I could keep it under the 40k mark.

But that didn’t happen.

I used the method I’ve used before. I did a bare bones outline of the plot and fit in all the key elements that needed to happen. I then figured out the word count and now many words I needed in each chapter. After all that, I set out to write the book. Knowing I tend to add in words when I edit—I set my goals low and gave myself room to add wordcount and still have a novella.

And then I wrote. And did my first round of edits. And sent it off to Mary, my CP.

ghosts of christmas past by jessica aspenWhen Mary sent it back, she wanted more. More detail. More emotion. More character development. So I added that in and it was sneaking very close to 40k. The dreaded novella/novel line. But I sent it off to the developmental editor knowing what was going to happen. What had to happen.

She wanted more. More. More. More.

And now, my romance novella is officially a romance novel. Just barely. Could I have gone in and cut it down and skimmed under the novel mark. Yes. I’m sure I could have done it. There are always words to remove. But if I did that, would Jen still feel like the positive person she is, even though she’s going through so much trauma?

Would Nate be sympathetic as a hero, even though he makes mistakes and hides the truth about the house from Jen?

And would you, the reader, understand why Agnes, the ghost, does what she does? She’s a complex character, and you don’t get to see too much of her. Maybe the reader wouldn’t get what I do about her, that she’s just doing what she can to keep the status quo. Something that is more important to her than to almost anyone else because of who she is. Would you get it?

I didn’t think so.

And now I have a super short novel, instead of a novella. Or, you could look at it as a super long novella. Will it be something my readers of long books will like? I don’t know. I’ve had my first review, and it was terrific, but I still don’t know if my readers will jump to ghost stories versus shifter and fantasy romance. Will you jump?

Do you like short novels? Do you prefer a novella length, or does it make any difference? Do you like longer books? What about jumping to gothic romance? Are you ready to make the leap?

 

 

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Filed under Ghosts of Christmas Past, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft