Saturday, July 28, 2007

Everything Happens for a Reason

I've heard it said often enough. And I've said it as well as thought it.
Everything happens for a reason.
Synchronicity. That's the word I'm looking for. Since I started writing again things have been falling into place really easy. And it's starting to spook me. I believe someone or something is trying to get my attention. They're trying to tell me "It's now or never." And I'm beginning to listen. Not only am I really pumped and excited about writing again, I've learned that western historical's (what I write) are making a come back. I've been told by numerous writers that this is the up and coming trend. Eight or nine years ago it was chicklit. These days it seems to be paranormals. But, that just might change. And I'm a happy camper! I haven't heard news like this about historical western romance's since I began writing about nine years ago, so I'm real excited. I'm sure other western romance author's are as well. I've confirmed this prediction with articles as well as with people that actually attended the RWA National Conference in Dallas a few weeks ago. When I've heard things like this in the past, it usually panned out, so I believe it's true. I started this blog and I've been sticking to it. I actually look forward to writing my little posts and picking out just the right graphic. In the past I've tried to keep hard copy journals but I just never stuck to it. I don't know if it's because I tend to write more personal in a notebook journal that I do here, or if I'm afraid someone will find it and read all my personal feeling. I've been more productive since I started this blog. And that's good. I've been making friends with other romance writers. They've been encouraging me and wishing me well with comments and such on my writers sites. In the past I sort of stuck to myself. On writers lists and such I stay in the background. I guess you could call me a "lurker." Not because I'm stuck up or unsociable, but because I'm more of a loner. I'm really very shy and I stay to myself. People tend to get the wrong impression because of it, but that's just the way I am. Always have been. Just yesterday I was trying to think of a simple way to to re-do my outline, as per the advice from First Draft in 30 Days. I'd planned on just creating a new word doc and re-writing my edits from a hard copy. Then out of the blue, a writers list I belong to sent a link to download some really awesome free notecard software. And what's really weird about this is, I was just wishing I had something like this to work with. I don't know about you, but, I think this just about says it all.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dangerous Desires Dilemma

I keep looking at the Dangerous Desires progress report scale that I added to my page. It's shows that it's 40 percent complete. But is it really? When you take into account the rewrite, cutting of scenes, etc, etc, etc., what will I have left? As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had Karen Weisner's FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS. I'm planning to finish my outline using FD. I looked over my outline. It really was good. But, that's just mho. I believe I have enough in my original outline to carry off a 100,000 word single title novel. I feel good about it. Again, that's just mho. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm So Excited!

OK, this might seem silly to all you non-writer's out there, but, then again maybe not. In a previous post I talked about Shelfari. What I forgot to mention in my measly attempt to give you an idea about the forum, is that this is a place where you can also meet old as well as new friends. Also, in a previous post, I attempted to show you how excited I was when I was asked to be a multi-published romance author's MySpace friend. This post is sort of an updated combination of the two. In my early writing days, all I heard from other, more experienced writers, when taking about the craft, was the dreaded synopsis. What the heck? What's the dreaded synopsis? And why were they always talking about it as if it was some big, ugly monster? Believe me, I found out what they were talking about and why. Writing a synopsis is dreaded. By all. I am no exception. There are writer's who literally cringe when they hear those words. Writing a synopsis is not a fun deed. And for all you non-writer's out there, let me give you a little idea what the dreaded synopsis is all about. A synopsis is a tool used by writer's to sell their book to a publisher and/or agent. It is the tool. It's the first thing a publisher or agent will ask to see, and sometimes, the only thing they want to see when a writer submits their work. Every writer who writes a book with the goal of getting published is required to write one. That is, if they want to sell their book. The reason us writer's cringe, is because, we have to summarize our 100,000 plus words book down to 1-5 pages. And it's a challenge. A great, BIG challenge. That is, it was a challenge until multi-published romance author Elizabeth Sinclair, who writes romantic suspense for Silhouette and Medallion Press, Inc., wrote a guide to help those of writer's us who lack the skill to produce a selling synopsis. It's called, you guessed it, The Dreaded Synopsis. I absolutely do not know what I would have done had Elizabeth Sinclair not wrote this guide. I bought my signed copy about five years ago. It was a Godsend. I'm proud to say, because of Elizabeth Sinclair, I can now write a decent synopsis and I no longer tremble at the sound of those words. Well, sometimes I no longer cringe. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. Which brings me back to my second reason for this post. I met her on Shelfari! I requested that she be one of my friends. And I'm happy to say, she has a new writing guide out, entitled, FIRST CHAPTERS. Apparently, it's the first in her Building A Novel series of writer's guides. I can't wait to get it! If I hadn't have heard of Shelfari, and if I hadn't have signed up, I wouldn't have found Elizabeth Sinclair again. And if I hadn't found Elizabeth Sinclair again, I wouldn't have found out she's writing these writer's guide series...therefore... Well, you get the picture. Happy synopsis writing!

To Finish the Book or Not to Finish the Book...

...that is the question. A friend of mine is in a dilemma. She's asked for my help with her problem, and it's a tough one. So I'm asking you... I've heard it said over and over through the years on writer's lists, writing courses, writing articles and just about everywhere there's a writing discussion.
"When you begin working on a book, finish it before you start working on anything else. Period."
Sounds like good, sound advice. But, what if your current project was your first ever attempt at writing and it's been at least five or six years since you started the novel? What if it's been revised and rewritten so many times that it's not even the same story that it started out to be. What if it's nearly half finished, however, you're just bored, bored, bored with it? If you're so bored that you just can't bare to go on writing it, should you just set it aside and begin working on another project? Even though they say it's best to just finish the one your working on before moving on to something else? A friend of my did just that. She set her wip aside for about two years. Now she's picked up where she left off and she feels like she needs to move on to something else. And that's the big question. Should she or shouldn't she? She's debated this question for quite some time now. And even though she does love the story (it's her first born , and you writer's out there know what I'm talking about), she thinks that she's diddled around with it far too long. My friend thinks of this novel as her "learning" experience. She feels like she's more experienced in her writing and she could easily take off with another project that she's been dying to start. But every time she thinks about doing that, she has a niggling in the back of her mind telling her to "just finish it!" What would you do?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Do You Shelfari?

I first heard of Shelfari a few days ago on one of my writer's lists. Always anxious to try new things, I hurried on over to see what it was about. Basically, it's sort of like a Myspace for writer's. There are groups you can join, friends you can add. You can leave comments on your friends page's (they're called "notes" over there) just like Myspace. The difference between Shelfari and Myspace is you can't use the cute little graphics. Bummer, huh? You fill out your profile and you can add a picture. You can list your interests, music, books, etc. But the best part is that it's sort of a personal library data base. You add books that you have or want, and they show up on your "shelf" cover and all. You can even add books to your wish list, books you've read, and you can add them to your "groups", your "top 10 list" or your "reading list". If you can't find what you're looking for in their data base, you can do an Amazon search right from your page using the title, ISBN or author. Also, they give you the code to add your book shelf to your blog, or Myspace and viewer's can look through your library without leaving the site. I added my shelf to my blog yesterday, and I have it on my Myspace page, too, so you can see for yourself. I have a huge pesonal library and making a book data base has been on my "to do" list for a long time. I just never got around to it. I really need to keep track of what I have. I've already discovered that I have double copies of a research book and no telling how many more I will find as I wade through them all. Books can be pricey, so, I really don't want to do make that a practice. So, for me, finding this was great. I've met now friends and found some old friends. It gave me the push I needed to inventory and finally archive my books. And that's a good thing. I've already put a big dent in my data base. I've got a lot more to go, but, hey, it's a start. So, do you Shelfari?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Do It Anyway...

This was posted in my myspace bulletin by Romance Author, Tess Mallory. We chat a little and I subscribe to her myspace blog. She's really a sweet, Texas gal.
Mother Theresa
People are often unreasonable, illogical,and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, People may accuse youof selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank,people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness,they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway

What Inspires You?

I'm always up to learning and trying new things. Especially when it comes to writing. I've tried lots of things to help along the way. Music, movies, books, etc., as I'm sure all of you have done as well. Sometimes they work to inspire me, and sometimes they don't. I'll listen to music that pumps me up. Depending on my mood, this usually works. I just can't listen to any music that was popular during the worst years of my life, though, because I just get too sad. Hm mm...I guess I should listen to that music when I'm writing a scene that is supposed to be sad. OK, scratch that thought. I'll read my favorite all time romances, which usually always inspire me to write. Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. Or a Kathleen Woodiweiss novel. Or Judith McNaughts Kingdom of Dreams. These are the first romances I read, back in the 70's. I 've read them a hundred times in the past, and I'll probably read them a hundred more times in the future. I'll watch my favorite movies. Braveheart with Mel Gibson, Lonesome Dove with Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. Or The Outlaw Josey Wales or Two Mules or Sister Sarah with Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. The last one is always a good movie for me to watch because it takes place during the 1860's Juarez led rebellion against the French invasion and French imperial rule in Mexico. Since I'm writing a western romance set during this exact time period, this movie never fails to inspire me. Recently, a new inspirational tool has come to my attention. Brain Wave Therapy. They're self help programs by Kelly Howell that are supposed to help you quit smoking, lose weight or sharpen your focus and creativity. You buy a CD and listen to it with a portable CD player and earphones. Below is a paragraph from their catalog:
"In these pages you'll find many ways to achieve your goals and make the breakthrough you want. With our clinically-proven audio technology you can reach states of inner balance that will contribute to an ever increasing sense of well-being in your life, helping you to expand, heal and grow. Thousands of individuals have taken the time to share their remarkable success stories. And as you'll see inside, many brain researchers and medical professionals add their praise."

I've heard that this really does work, so I gave it a shot. There are many different programs to choose from and they all sound good. Some are subliminal and some aren't. I had a hard time deciding which one to buy first.

The first program I bought is called HIGH FOCUS. I listen to it first thing in the morning, while on the treadmill or when I first get online and I'm reading my emails. It does seem to pump you up, and I have found that I am writing more. They say that athletes listen to this program before the big game. I can see why. For me, it pumps me up too much and I tend to feel a little nervous. Like drinking too much coffee. I can't drink more that two or three cups in the morning or I feel this way. That aside, I have noticed an increase with my writing and other creative things I do. I do like this program and will probably continue to use it in the future.

The second program I bought is entitled INCREASE CREATIVITY. Now this CD is more to my liking. It's more relaxing and I feel much more calm after listening to it. You're supposed to listen to it laying down, or in a recliner or somewhere where you can relax and not have to worry if you get drowsy. They say not to listen to this CD if you are going to be doing something physical or driving. And, as with the other program, I can see why. When I listen to it, I do get relaxed. And, again, as with the other one, I have noticed an increase with my creativity. I've been writing more. I even started this blog. :) I don't know if this really works or if it's just mind over matter. However, I like it and it works for me so I'll continue to use it until it doesn't. The next program I intend to buy is the smoking and weight loss subliminal CD.

Hey, if it works...

You can take a look for yourself here, at the brain Sync website. If you decide to go this route let me know how it works for you.

Getting Serious's been a couple of years since I worked on my writing. I came down ill and just wasn't up to it. Now I'm ready to get back at it. Actually, where my wip is concerned, it was good that I let it sit for those past two years, because I can actually look at my work with a fresh eye.
Not bad, I thought. However, I realized that I needed to do some major revising. Now, I've always had a problem staying focused on just one task at a time. Either, I would begin to work in my character profile, or outline, or scene and sequel or synopsis. I really needed to stay focused and work on one aspect of my writing at a time. And, I noticed, I really needed to get organized.
I'd bought Karen Weisner's FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS a few years ago, and never got the chance to read through it. I took it off my bookshelf and looked it over. It looked like it was just what I needed. It taught you to focus on one task at a time, it got you organized. I decided I'd give it a try.
That's what I'm doing now. I'm using the book to stay focused and get organized. I've read many different reviews on this guide. It seemed the reviewers either really liked the book, or they dissed it. Now, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface with it, however, I feel it's just what I need.
So, what I'd like to know, is, have any of you used this writing guide? And if so, what was your opinion of it. Did it help you, or could you have done just as good without it?
I welcome any comments or suggestions.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Myspace...Friend of Foe?

I was online doing my research...a-hum, excuse me, I mean surfing the web, when my Myspace alert popped up to notify me that I had a new friend request. I'm always really curious when I get a friend request, because, really, who would like to be my friend? I'm not looking for sympathy, and I don't mean to sound whiny, but I'm not a published author. Yet. Unless it is family, old friends, spam or bands, I am the one who does the "requesting." That's just the way it is. I x'd out my email and clicked on over to my Myspace page to see who it was. There was no photo, only a little yellow icon of Bart Simpson's little sister, Lisa. Interesting. I looked at the name. It read "Barbara Dawson Smith." I did a double take. I knew it was late, and my eyes were beginning to cross, but was it...? It couldn't be, could it? Not the multi published, NY Times best selling author, Barbara Dawson Smith? Requestiong to be added to my friends list? I was in shock. Almost as bad as when I got the email notifying me of my fourth place final in my first RWA sponsored contest. I just couldn't believe it. But, I realized, something wasn't right. Why would a multi-published, NY Times bestselling author have a Maggie Simpson icon instead of a picture of herself or a photo of one of her book covers like the rest of the published authors? Of course, I thought and smacked myself upside the head. I should have known. It was a fluke. My blood pressure topped it's maximum for nothing. I breathed a sigh of relief. And, I'm proud to say, I kept my cool and refrained from instantly hitting the "approve" friend request button. I decided it'd better check it out anyway. As is my usual routine with friend requests, I mossied on over to her site to take a look-see. I clicked on Lisa Simpson's head and waited for the page to load. Nice page. Nothing fancy. Tan background, nice choice of music...Huey Lewis and the News. I scrolled down as the page finished loading. Then, back up to read her profile. That's when it happened... The blood slowly drained from my face. Felt something like a hot flash. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped open. I couldn't move. Instead of the usual personal information listed on her profile there was: "Why are you here? You should be reading my books!" My muse instantly popped into my head. She hovered just in front of my eyes, horns and all, shaking a long, bony finger at me and scolding, "What are you doing here? You should be writing!" A pang of guilt hit me smack dab in the face. I stared, open mouthed and speechless. After the initial shock was over, I realised it really was the truth. I should have been writing instead of reading my email, playing solitaire and diddling around with my Myspace page. I was totally ashamed of myself. How dare I call myself a writer. Did I really think I was a writer just because I sat at my computer every day...? It was a rude awakening. I realized I had to make a choice. Either get my butt in gear and get serious, or keep on doing what I wasn't doing. Writing. Satisfied that it really was Barbara Dawson Smith, I hit the home button and promptly added her as one of my friends. Somehow that made me feel so...I don't know, important? A big name romance author actually requesting to be my friend! Maybe there was something to all this. Suddenly, I could see myself as a published author. I could see myself requesting to be added to someones Myspace page, and having that someone feel that same way about me someday. I got the point. No more playing. I was going to get my butt in gear and get serious. My breathing once again became slow and steady. I took a deep breath, clamped my mouth shut, and squared my shoulders. I was going to do it. No more messing around. But first, I had to take care of something. I popped over to my photobucket archive, picked out what I thought was a cute little writer's graphic and left Barbara Dawson Smith a "thank you for the request" comment on her page. After looking through her friends to see if there was anyone I could add from her list to mine, I back-tracked to my site, x'd out the Internet and opened the file to my wip. Thanks, Barbara, for the awakening. Click here to visit Barbara Dawson Smith's Myspace page