Saturday, November 19, 2022

Y'all It Is Happening

 My friends and I are kind of freaking out.


We are all writing short stories for this anthology I've mentioned that will be available for purchase, both as an e-book or paperback, starting early next year!

Four of us will be debut authors together in it--and we've been on this long haul to publishing together for a while. Writing regularly for years side-by-side. Cheering each other on. It's so lovely to be doing this together, hand-in-hand. We just got together for our monthly lunch at Et Voila in Washington, DC, this past Friday and had a little celebratory toast as we're getting closer and closer!

And I'm so grateful to the previously published authors who are also doing this anthology with us and are both great friends and mentors!

With my forthcoming contemporary romance trilogy, I'm still hoping to go the traditionally published route. However, it's fun to have something out that will finally be out there, something to share with the world, while I'm finalizing Book 1 of my trilogy.

It's kind of weird, though, because the FIRST thing I'm putting out is something I've worked on for months rather than years.

And because the first thing I'm putting out is science fantasy romance rather than the contemporaries I've worked on for longer. I've read, watched, and loved fantasy and sci-fi since childhood. The creds are there. I just never envisioned it being the first thing I'd go out with.

And then there's the sex. I knew people would eventually read sex scenes that I write, from relatives to former corporate colleagues. And I knew I wouldn't write "closed door" romance. For those unfamiliar with romance terms, that's when you know the characters are going to have sex, but you don't follow them past that door and have the act described to you.

*NEWS FLASH* Romance isn't porn. But there often is sex because it is often part of love. And love is what romance is about. And let's be honest, sex is a fun part of it.

But imagining people, I know, reading sex scenes I've written?

Anyhow, things are moving along at a rapid clip. I turned in my first draft on Halloween and received my first round of developmental edits early last week. I've until early December to turn the next draft around for copy and line edits.

In the meantime, I've been playing around with a cover for my short story--it won't be what it goes to publish with because that will be the anthology cover. Still, I'll use it to promote my own story within the anthology on social and in my newsletter, etc. I'm dying to share it, but I'll wait until I have the copyright on my story, which is another step I'll need to take soon.

I also need to write my marketing copy, update my "about the author," probably redo and relaunch my website, consider author pics, etc. And then there is the proofreading after the next round of edits. So much to do! But I am thrilled that things are moving so fast all of a sudden!

And, of course, my book is still sitting there, waiting for me to return to it. Knocking on the door in the back of my brain, just asking me to come back to it, to edit it. But I have to successfully complete this short story launch first!

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Writing Long is Hard! No Writing Short is Hard!

I'm laughing at myself because my writing history is as an English major focused on British works, newspaper reporter and copy desk editor, TV and radio reporter and producer, digital media producer, business strategist, paid media and consumer strategy marketer, and brand strategist. Simplifying down a lot of moves and transitions.

But ultimately, after my major, I was mainly focused and trained to write short and direct, and catchy. So when I went to write my first novel, writing long-form fiction was a kind of mind explosion. It was a whole other ballgame to keep a reader through 60k words, and then when I wrote it over again, 85K plus words, without losing pace, etc.

But now, I'm working on a short story that has to be under 15K words, and all my scenes keep going too long! It's like I can't help myself. I keep collapsing scenes in the hopes of cutting the ultimate word count by not showing everything or dragging everything out--but we'll see how it nets out. You gotta make two people believably fall in love fast--and make it all make sense and be interesting.

So here I was all complaining about writing long, and now I'm struggling to write short. Snort!

But I can't complain. As mentioned, my deadline is Halloween, I'm at about 62% complete, and I've got about 6000 words to go to get through the rest of the story, as far as I've plotted it. Let's hope I can keep it to that! 🤞

At this rate, I should finish with enough time to give it a solid edit before sending it to my editor, so that makes me happy. And then, while I wait for edits, it's time to get after my book again that has been resting and edit it! Sooooo a lot of editing in my future. And I've told y'all before how much I love editing. 😂

Alrighty then, so that's the update on my progress! Also I'm hoping to "dabble" in painting again. If you want to check out my site for that or follow that Instagram account, you'll find them here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The End

I finished my book! But I so didn't. So what's up now?

This last haul to complete has been crazy. When I last wrote a blog, I was at the 50% mark, and it was the end of March. April and May were crazy--I had some really good days, but we also had COVID, pneumonia, and a million other sicknesses those months.

So in June, I took drastic measures. LOL. I used the Freedom app and completely cut-off social media. Dunhhh dunhhh dunnnnnhhhhhh....

But seriously, it helped me to be super-productive and make big gains. Then, school ended, and summer camp chaos ensued. That threw a big wrench in my productivity in July. But for me, I knew I was so close I could taste it. I just wanted to get it done, and my birthday on August 7 was around the corner. I was at the beach in my happy place of Kiawah Island, SC, with only 1 kid (one was at a sleepaway camp), with a nanny, and my husband was in Scotland. So I could devote most of that week to writing.

I've literally never written like that before. It was non-stop. It was back-breaking. My body hurt. But I crossed the finish line after midnight, so technically on August 6th, the day before my 41st birthday. I typed the word every writer covets: THE END.

And thus I celebrated, all by myself, and made an Aperol spritz.

And the next day we went pluff mud kayaking and saw dolphins and a rainbow. It was the perfect bridge between finishing my novel and my birthday. Then it became a double rainbow, and our naturalist guide Luke joked that it meant that I had to write a second book. Which made me laugh because I do. My book is the first in a trilogy!

When I was a little girl, I used to go cast net fishing with my Dad around Charleston catching shrimp, but I'd forgotten how to do it, so I relearned how to do it from Luke (another Columbia SC native like myself), which was super awesome and sentimental for me.

So all great and dandy. You finished the book. You had a great birthday; now what? You may be thinking.

The novel is "resting". Like a big hunk of meat. I'm letting it sit--so I'm not so close to it when I go back through and make my first pass at editing it before I put it in front of some other eyes.

As I may have mentioned previously--I must have--I wrote this book once before, but I took too much feedback, I frankensteined it and lost my voice. So this time around I need to be choosier about whose feedback I solicit and, even from that, what I choose to listen to. Before I make those moves, I'm going to give it a solid pass myself. BUT I'm not even planning to start that process until November.

The reason though is a super fun one! I've committed to writing a short story for an anthology with some other writer friends, which we'll be paying for professional editing, and then self-publishing in the spring. And the deadline my editor and I have agreed to is HALLOWEEN.

But that means I'm tied to this project for a while, which is perfect because I need some space from my novel before I edit it anyhow.

So no--I'm not really "done". But I will be done by the beginning of the year, sending it around, getting thoughts, and querying and pitching to editors and agents in the spring. Plus starting on book 2 of the trilogy! Each book is a contemporary romance about a different sister in DC. Whoop whoop!

But the short story? Not contemporary romance. It's definitely leaning toward space fantasy right now. Seems like a strange pivot but not really. I'm a big fantasy and Star Wars fan, and I didn't really want to do anything tied to the current novels I'm working on. So it seemed a fun "space" to play in.

So strangely, if you want to support my career and buy my work--the first piece you'll be able to buy is this short story, which will be quite unlike my full novels! But kinda fun, right?

I also have another project in the works with some writing colleagues--a blog that's looking to launch in the New Year. I won't say much more about it now--but of course, I'll be promoting it here--and you'll get exposed to many of my good writer friends' work this way too!

So sorry for the delay--but that's where I'm at--Book 1 is sorta kinda done! And things are moving! Thank you all for your love and support as always.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Write First = 50% Complete!

As stated to my coworking group on our monthly goal-setting call last month in February, my goal was "Write First" every day for March. Because the days that I don't get as much work completed on my novel are when I start on some other personal life task--finances, something for the kids, so forth--and never end up circling back.

February was a challenging month. I discovered something big needed to change with my novel and had to re-edit my first eight chapters. Painful!!!! But I got through it. 💪

I got distracted by potentially writing a short story to publish in an anthology in the midst of all that. I plotted it and wrote the first chapter--and had many calls with friends but ultimately decided not to proceed.

BUT writing is writing, and don't worry, that content will find its way in a different women's fiction quadrilogy that I will write later around my happy place: Charleston, South Carolina.

And here we are, coming up on March goal-setting on next Monday. I have to figure out what my new goals will be. But the ones I set for March? Guess what--they worked! Squee! I've been very focused, and I've finally hit 50% completion of my novel!

I am both so proud and relieved--and also like, oh shit, now I have to do the same amount of work again, but in less time! 😱😱😱 Because I have pitching deadlines, I want this first draft to be complete (if not edited) by then.

However, despite the currently projected 2,430 words I need to pump out every weekday to meet the current goal, I am optimistic. Why? Not because I output 3,131 words Monday or 2,387 yesterday. No, because I think my strengths are working for me!

I've spoken before about the great courses I've taken as part of The Better Faster Academy with Becca Syme. In it, you take the Gallup Strengthfinders test, and the coaches with this program essentially help you figure out how to leverage your strengths to be most effective.

I am a Patreon for the program, and one of the benefits I get at the level I contribute is monthly microcoaching. I had my session yesterday, and the coach basically said that my maximizer (#2 strength) and strategic (#3 strength) were doing their thing correctly. Everything has to be perfect for me early in the process, and I always feel that I can do more. But once I start approaching a deadline, it just has to be DONE, so those strengths kind of let up. What's good enough now may not be the same as what was good enough a couple of months ago, but that's perfectly okay and shows that those strengths are functioning well. 😂

And we talked about how I'm good with boundaries (#4 relator strength), so I've been good about saying okay, I've met my word count. I can take a break, go for a walk. Work-life balance and all.

But I was concerned that I should be riding the wave, the juice, while I have it and continue pumping out words because there will be days when I am less productive. And the coach pointed out that since I mentioned I have childcare constraints, and since I seem to maybe be a mood writer, I should probably ride it out.

Hahaha. So that's the understanding I'm at now. Here's for the big upcoming April push. Send me all the good vibes, please!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

What Else Can I Do? H/T Encanto

Y'all my kids have been singing Encanto on repeat. But I never dreamed it was going to help me with my creative endeavors.

Lo and behold, about 2 weeks ago, I was deep in research because I had paused my writing when I thought maybe, just maybe, I was bullshitting too much and depriving my reader. So I spent pretty much two months reading and highlighting textbooks on one of the main subjects (I know I'm aging myself a la Miranda in And Just Like That), and I realized I was going to have to make a significant pivot on the inciting conflict of my novel.

Unfortunately, I've already written 1/3rd of the first draft of the second version of my first book (le sigh...), and now I was going to have to edit with a heavy hand, the first four chapters, and with a lighter touch on the following four chapters after that, which I'd already drafted.

Considering I'm already rewriting from scratch a book I've already written once, it was more than a little disheartening of a discovery.

First, I had to figure out how to make this pivot. That's where my accountability partner comes in. God bless him, but he had been saying, and saying, and saying to me that if I ever needed to talk anything through, just to call him. No big deal. All casual like that. It has been a long hard road for me to learn to make that call and realize I can actually brainstorm with people.

I'd done it once this year with my mentor Lori, and she helped me greatly improve my black moment, and once with my good friend who went on the writing retreat with me Keely, when I was trying to solve I can't remember what. So this was the third time.

I don't know why this concept is so hard to get through the head of a #1 strength Self-Assurance person like myself, to call for help.

But I rang up Gabriel, and honestly, we went down a couple avenues, but finally together found the right answer, and in less than an hour! I now accept that when I hit a roadblock, external processing with a friend can save me literally DAYS of time sweating what turn my writing and plot need to take.

So great and dandy, and the next day I go to sit in front of the computer, and I froze up. The idea of editing again, when I'd been editing for YEARS made me sick. I was not excited. I was intimidated.

I knew I needed a song to help me get in the mood to tackle this obstacle. That was when this Encanto song, "What Else Can I Do?" popped into my head. You see, this character Isabel is perceived as the perfect sister, and is singing about how she has the magic power to make roses, but when she accidentally makes a cactus she is thrilled. The beginning lyrics of the song are:

"I just made something unexpected

Something sharp, something new

It's not symmetrical or perfect

But it's beautiful and it's mine

What else can I do?"

They just hit me so dead on. And I started editing, and I was loving it, and having fun!

My story had taken a turn I didn't expect, but I could feel how much better it was, how much better it would be, for me going through the pain of making this change.

So if you need this sort of change and inspiration--I highly recommend calling a friend and listening to this song. :) Here's the video of this part of the movie--enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2022

It's a New Year Baby

You'll probably see a bit less of me blogging or sending the newsletter, at least through April. I'm hyper-focused on minimizing distractions in my life and doing what matters most to me to achieve my goals. Or if I do post, I'll try to make it short and to-the-point, a quick update of where I'm at, what I'm doing, where I'm going.

Last year, my word of the year was "DEFY". I wanted most of all to defy my own expectations. I don't know if I did quite that but it was certainly a year of growth for me. This year, I've deemed it the year of "LESS". Here is what I've come up with:

The Year of Less

LESS social media/news/browsing/distractions
LESS alcohol & bad food
LESS buying things I don't need/spending money
LESS worrying about things that don't matter

MORE focus on my novel and reading
MORE enjoying the moment with my family
MORE moving my body and healthy foods
MORE spirituality/self-care/goal-setting

I realize that LESS and MORE look equal. But by cutting down on more of the former, I can do so much more of the latter. And that is the point. In my next blog post, I'll look to update my word count goals so I can hit my much more targeted writing deadlines.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

We Did It!

I am so happy with how our writing retreat in Kiawah Island, SC went. Not only did we get a lot of words and a lot of work done, but my writing friend Keely and I also had a relaxing and wonderful time!

First of all our travel magic (h/t to our friend Angele) was in full effect when we arrived, as they decided to give us the white wrangler to drive around despite that not being at all what I reserved.

Then, we swung by the amazing Angel Oak tree on our way -- this tree is estimated to be over 400-500 years old, possibly one of the oldest living things in the country! When you touch the bark--you can feel the energy. It's truly special.

Perfect way to start with some inspiration!

Then we did a little drive around tour of Kiawah Island, got into my condo, made some lunch, and then took a walk to the beach to get the energy flowing again and set our intentions for the trip.

We got after some writing when we returned, setting up on the screened in porch, which turned out to be our primary spot of word-smithing for the trip--shocker--and I got in a solid 2367 words before we had to get ready and head to dinner at the River Room. Not too shabby! We pretty much gorged ourselves there--it was the beginning of us spoiling ourselves for all our hard work. ;)

The next day, we made breakfast, then went for a bike ride around the island to see some of my favorite homes and again get our blood flowing, and saw a big old gator! There's something about those prehistoric predators...

We got some writing in afterwards... made some lunch, and did a virtual check-in with another writing friend Gabriel who we were missing... then it was off to the Sasanqua spa!

We didn't enjoy that at all, ha. Drove over to the beach, passing by some deer buddies who we saw constantly throughout the trip:

And enjoyed a lovely walk to wake us back up after supreme relaxation!

Returning to the condo, we got back to work, reinvigorated and our writers' bodies not feeling quite so pinched. My masseuse had literally called me out for my chest muscles being too tight from sitting at the computer ha! I was like, uh, that's what I'm here to do. But all in all, I netted another 3037 words on Friday, so no complaints from me!

Off to the B-Liner at the Beach Club we went, with my favorite waitress there Sara, and really it's one of my all time favorite restaurants, so there is no going wrong. We ate well, we drank well, and had so many good chats about our work and our lives.

The next morning, we ate breakfast and then it was off to beach yoga outside the Sanctuary and man was that special. And the warmth of the sun on our faces during savasana at the end, I really didn't want to get back up. Our instructor was fabulous and the zen was in full effect, so we didn't get more words in until after lunch at the Marsh House!

However, there I did get in an additional 1617 words in after lunch, before having a writer's revelation that I need to do a bit more research on a specific topic, because I was beginning to feel like I was BS'ing my way through it, LOL. But that's okay. So that's where I left off with my writing, and that's what I have to get into this week.

We ended the trip by sitting out on the beach for golden hour, which was entirely out of control gorgeous and peaceful and perfect, and then enjoyed some shrimp and grits at Jasmine's Porch, which you kind of have to have while in Kiawah, SC. Lastly, we enjoyed LoveHard on Netflix, which was an adorable romantic Christmas flick--which we highly recommend!

Sunday morning I dropped off Keely, and got in one final really inspirational moment... kayaking with the dolphins!

All in all, pre-trip I was at 23% complete with my novel, with 19,648 words written. After our trip, I'm now at 31% complete, with 26,669 words written. Whoop whoop!

I don't know if I can still get this book done by the end of year, but damn it I'm making good progress, and it's only a matter of time!!!