Don’t Tune It Out

Wake. Up. Now. #Baltimore

Black. Bunched. Mass. Mom.

“Oh my God, I haven’t even thought about that… what’s even going on down there?”

“This is why I don’t watch the news. I just don’t want to see that negative stuff, you know?”

“Oh, right, yeah… I’m so sorry. It just hasn’t been in the front of my mind. Didn’t really much watch of it. So bad with the kids around, you know? When the news gets bad, I don’t watch…”

That’s just a sample of the things people have said to me today. People who I like. People who know that I’m from Maryland. People who absentmindedly, in that small-talk way we do, asked me how I was doing this morning. Of course, they were halted by my honest answer:

“I’m having a rough time. I can’t stop watching what’s happening in Baltimore.”

It was supremely disappointing, time and again, to see people have to flip four switches…

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Sailing Through Dreams – A Poem

For my newest nonfiction personal finance book, I wanted to use a poem by Maya Angelou.  I actually reached out to the publishing company that owned the rights to the poem and inquired about using it for this book.  They wanted to know all about the distribution, the first print run number, the book’s demographics, etc.  I was floored.

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This was a wake up call.  I realized that I had to use something else!  So, I tried my hand at writing my own poem specific to this book and its goals to help people be their own best accountant using simple tools and common sense.  My book Making Dollars & Sense Work: A Financial Primer for Single Moms and Dads Plus College Kids, Too!  (Yeah, long title but really short very easily digested book — only 66 pages.)

This book also comes with two free downloads to help you.  One download is a letter to help you out of payday loan hell.  The other download is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet pre-loaded to create a one-page financial budget and tracker!

But I digress, the poem that opens the book is, as follows.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sailing Through Dreams

Dreaming our dreams we often fail;

to dream big enough or, strong enough

We discover a wave and then we shudder.

We re-jigger, re-boot, re-think and stall.

We form half-dreams that lead to half-lives

But, if we lift our thoughts, our voices, our eyes

Then, and only then, we’ll sail straight through our

and land upon our new reality’s shore.

for it to catch shape and sail.

in which we stumble and fall.

we can aim for higher highs;

dreams…

~ Rochelle Campbell

The Journey of Bringing Novels to Life, Part 2

I wrote on this topic last summer shortly after I finished my novel Fury From Hell.  I thought I said it all in that piece.  [You can find Part 1 here.]  Apparently, I did not.

Bridge to Infinity

It seems that the journey of bringing novels into fruition and the journey (read: evolution) of the writer run parallel.  [Occasionally, they may run perpendicular.]

Why do you say that? You may ask.

Simple.  I am writing a timeslip story, a story that has moments in the past.  For this term, I have to thank the ladies from the bi-weekly #HarlequinHistorical chat: , et al.

However, the timeslip happens in turbulent times in the 1920’s and in the 60’s.  I am doing my research going to original source documents and the images are simply killing me.  The emotional toll this takes is much more than I had imagined.  It took me three years to think I was ready to write this book.  I now see that I am not quite there yet.  If I am, I need to add something else to my current writing projects queue.  Something a bit more light-heartedly, free and fun.  This way, it can balance the gravity of the timeslip story.

Well, at least, that is the story I am telling myself and my Muse! 🙂

I took some time last evening to think about this and have decided to write a romantic novel with action and excitement in it.  The sexual tension will be palpable and I want to have characters whose personalities clash initially but meld beautifully as the story develops.  This feels like a life-affirming thing to do now for myself as a writer!

This way, when I have to view images of death, pain, suffering and depression from a time not so long ago defiling people simply because they were born a certain color — I can have a balanced emotional perspective.

Zen rock balanced

<sigh> One more step in my evolutionary journey as a writer.

Have you found yourself in such a quandary?  Maybe with another topic/issue in writing where you needed to have space?  Please! I would love if you’d share!  So many times I feel as if I am writing into cyberspace ethers without hope of a reply (or comment…).

Ta-ta for now,

NB

8 Ways to Know Your WIP is Going Well

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8.  You have an outline for your writing project.  Even if it is only a rough sketch with only an emotional arc written on the back of an envelope, or on a napkin.  Having some inkling of what you want to do helps to keep writer’s block at bay.

7. Have a character questionnaire completed for at least your main character/POV character.  This questionnaire can be as simple as the POV character’s name and physical description.  Or, it can be a full biographical sketch complete with major childhood events and any psychological issues.

6. Have a very thick skin.  Yes, you need to begin developing a thick mental skin right now.  Even if you have never completed any writing project you must protect your inner Muse by taking critique well.  Meaning, hear what is said about your work and not take it personally.  You may need to put down your work for a couple of days and come back to it once you’ve digested the critique.  You may also need to turn to a trusted writer friend and bounce the critique off of them to ensure that you received the message you think you did from the critique.  Why is this #6?  Because if you don’t have a supportive circle of writers around you you will need to create, or find one.

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5. Create/find a writing circle.  In these new and revolutionary days in which publishing is no longer ‘kind and gentle’ (if it ever was), your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it before an agent, or a publisher reads it.  Meaning, your story arc is honed and sharpened to the specifically right one that works for your book, characters and setting.  That your characters’ voices are clear and distinct from each other.  That your theme is clearly depicted throughout the book.  That your story has complexity with added sub-themes and/or plots that support the central theme of the book.  A supportive writing circle, or group, can help you do just that without the cost of a structural book editor (which can be costly; sometimes as much as 20 – 40 cents per word depending upon the length of your document).

4. Be prepared and know that your first-draft is not your masterpiece.  The first-draft is just that…your first pass at telling this story.  Think of your story in terms of a human pregnancy — it has 3 trimesters — just like your story.  The first one is your first-draft.  The second trimester is the phase where you REST.  You move entirely away from the story for as long as a month before going back to it (this applies to longer works such as a novel).  This resting time is to give you distance from your work so you can look at it objectively.  While you may never be able to be completely objective giving yourself time will allow you to see things you may not have seen shortly after completing the first draft.  The third trimester is the editing phase where YOU go over your work and add in scenes to more fully develop and flesh out characters, or the plot.  Where you add in characters (or remove them) to make the story more realistic.  You may need to go in and re-work your theme as you see holes you left, or red herrings that go nowhere (because you may have been rushing through the first pass as getting the story out).  This is the stage where you identify your book’s team.

3. Every great book took a village to bring to market.  You need an editor.  You need a book cover designer (if you’re Indie), you need a book formatter (if you’re Indie).  You need a fact-checker (if you’re with a publisher this generally is embedded in the several editorial passes they conduct for your book.  [Publishers usually have 4 – 5 editors go over your book to ensure there are no typos, grammatical errors, wrong facts, etc.  Indie authors — you’ve got to find a team that will help you have the same types of checks on your manuscript.] You need beta readers; people you trust to give you an honest opinion.  You don’t need to know your beta readers personally but you do need to feel comfortable with them and how they process what they read.  So, research online folks whose book reviews you appreciate.  You should also be mindful of the types of genres your beta readers usually read.  You ideally want beta readers who currently read the types of books you are asking them to read — unless you want someone totally outside of your genre’s opinion.  That has value also.  People who don’t read the genre will generally pull out things that are story/plot holes, or character flaws.  They read the story.  People who read the genre you have written will do that as well (usually) but they tend to focus on things that make, or break, the genre rules.  These beta readers will keep you true to the rules of engaging your readers in your work’s genre.

2. You must have discipline.  Without a writing ethic of writing on a regular basis (at least once a day), it will be difficult to finish a project in any kind of timely manner.  ‘Nuff said.

1. You have no idea how tomorrow’s scene will turn out.  Putting your characters’ collective backs against the wall is the best thing you can do for your readers, and therefore, your story.  No one likes a predictable story.  If you, the writer, cannot figure out how to get your characters out of the mess they’ve created for themselves you are doing great!  You may need to do some research online to figure out how to pull yet another rabbit out of your writer’s toolbox.  But hey, this is what you signed up for when you decided to become a writer!

Success Key

A Very Quick #WIP Writerly Update

I am feeling a bit better about my current WIP.  I have revised the outline and added in some additional details to flesh out the story.  Additionally, I have become more calm about the book and the writing of it.  No longer is there abject terror when thinking of this book! 🙂

There is still a certain level of anxiety but it is manageable.  I can see that this book is asking the writer in me to go to the next level; to mature.

aint skeered

So, I will not pressure myself with hardcore deadlines as I have done in the past.  I will still follow my outline which is five pages long and over 2100 words in length.  Funny, my outline is now longer than the actual novel! 🙂

Thank you all for your tweets, RTs, faves and comments.  I really appreciate the support of the Twitter writing community.

All the best in your writing this week!  And…

HAPPY #WRITERWEDNESDAY!!

My Word Counter Broke…Or, Maybe I Did.

After a torturous journey on what I should write next.  I came to a conclusion.  Write the thing I am running way from fastest and hardest because that’s the one.

So, I am writing the ancestor generational book as I like to call it.  I started it on January 1st of this year — 2015.  I wrote some more on January 10th and haven’t touched it again until today.  But, in the meantime, I wrote, edited and proofed a nonfiction book, Making Dollars & Sense Work.  So, I guess I wasn’t slacking…ahem.  But, you and I know very well that while I was still writing that in-between book was to give me room to “work” while still running away.

subconcious mind_image

My subconscious mind at play trying to run away while I stay still and…do no writing.

 

So, my first step was to review my outline and make sure I have it at the forefront of my mind what I am setting out to do.  I have a full outline of over 6 pages.  I know what the story arc is and the major emotional and plot points.  But that’s the scary part, some of the emotional beats are not quite what I want them to be.  My writing mentors, Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, have helped me to flesh out the reasoning behind the actions in the outline.  Jean specifically said my subconscious was feeding me all the right beats but my brain was misinterpreting the whys and the motivations making the story muddled.  So, Jean helped me sort that out.  However, she made it that much more scary for me to write it out.  Why?  Because the emotional arc is overwhelming to me as a person.

So — I ran.

But, my second mother asked me if I was writing.  Answer: NO.

A new tweep asked what I was writing.  I gave an evasive answer about promoting my new book just published last month.

A new comment on my About page encouraged me to keep writing.

Are you sensing the pattern here??!?

Yes, I am slow but goodness.  Not that slow.

This meant write.  The what was easy when I looked at it.  What am I running from?  The why was not so easy but I get it.

So, I write this AM.  Revised what I had and added 486 words.  Went to my counter Excel doc from my last book (finished in March, mind you).

Pasted it over, like I’ve done several times before.  The damned thing DOESN’T WORK.  What the hell?!?#@_!!?

Try it again.  Same problem.  I enter my word count for today and it gives me a negative number!  A message?  Nope.  Faulty formula.  Which my brain cannot fix right now.  It seems tracking my word count as diligently as I used to is not something I am supposed to do for this book.  I am to write it and let if flow.  I don’t need to know how many words I’ve done.  I don’t need to obsess over how I’m doing.  It seems this book does not have a timeline.

Actually, this book was already a book that I published in 2012 but it was the wrong POV character.  I pulled it down and revised the outline and realized a character I have showing up in the middle of that other book was the POV character in actuality.  That was 2012.  It’s 2015.  Timeline?  What the heck is a timeline??  This book clearly has its own emotional arc. 🙂

So, yes.  My Excel counter is broken and I will not attempt to fix it today, tomorrow or any other day.  I will just feel out how this book wants to be tracked.  All books are different.  This birthing is difficult.  We’ll see how this book-baby will emerge.  It will probably be many moons before this one’s born.

Have a very bookish week!

Ta-ta for now.

NB

Book Thoughts on Madame Lilly: Voodoo Priestess by Dormaine G.

 

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Dormaine G’s Madame Lilly: Voodoo Priestess is a captivating novella that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t stop squeezing until you reach the end — which is a cliffhanger.

Odara is a beautiful young girl who is Creole and is being groomed to be a mistress to a married Frenchman who can pay a decent dowry; money which her parents could use.  Odara does not want that life.  She wants to be a seamstress.  She knows she’s talented and her designs are sought after.  However, her mother knows the ways of their world best.  She pressures her daughter to learn the genteel lessons needed for the life they were grooming her for.

Yet, Odara is different.  She has a special talent that her mother begs her to never speak of — Odara can see and speak with the deceased.

Even Odara’s grandmother encourages her to ignore that special side of herself as it is dangerous and could bring harm to Odara and those around her.  The cryptic but vague warnings sail over Odara’s head.  She has other things to think about including a handsome young man vying for her attention.  After a year, he succeeds in sweeping the lovely Odara off her feet and she marries him when she’s 18 years old.

Shortly after her marriage, she finds out her husband is not the man her purported to be.  Not only is he married she realizes that he is cruel masochist.  After 12 hard years of physical and mental abuse as his mistress (even though she has her own home with him), Odara snaps and that long-forgotten side of herself rears its mystical head.  This is truly where the story begins!

Warning: This is not a story for the feint of heart.  There is graphic violence depicted along with ceremonial sacrifices.

4.5 Blogairy Notebooks