Alrighty, Aphrodites! It's Wednesday and around here that means one thing: time to share some great lines! Each Wednesday I turn to page 150, line 15 and share. Then it's your turn!
Okay, so I'm in the middle of 4 - not kidding, 4 - novels right now. A Jayne Ann Krentz, a Mira Lyn Kelly, a Whitney Otto and a Kris Tualla. Today I'm sharing from Kris Tualla and since I have her book on my Kindle, I'm guessing at page 150.
"He laughed. 'No, Sydney. You aren't a typical woman." ~ Kris Tualla, A Woman of Choice
What I like about the book: Norse Heroes. No kilts (although I do like a good kilted man!), just blonde, buffed heroes. And, it's set in Missouri - my home state. So it's like reading about home.
Okay, your turn: what are you reading?
So last week I started a new, regular Wednesday feature here on the blog. What are you reading Wednesday - in which we share specific lines from the books we're reading. The books can be for fun, research, learning or just impulse buys. Anything goes.
Here's what you do: turn to page 150, go to the 15th line and write it in the comments section along with the title and author of the book. Tell us what you like/don't like about the line or the book in general. That's it.
My line? Actually I'm cheating a bit - but only because the book I reached for didn't have a page 150. So I'm using the last page of the book.
Kate Walker's 12-Point Guide to Writing Romance by (of course) Kate Walker. Page: 148, line 15: Soon you'll be sent a contract - it's a standard one for all authors, but read it carefully and don't be afraid to ask if there is any part of it you don't understand.
Sound advice, I think. It's always better to ask for clarification - whether it's a book contract or a cell phone bill - than to regret not asking later.
So, what are you reading? Give me some lines!
It's February 7. Do you know where your goals are? Do you even remember the goals you hastily (or painfully) wrote down in early January? I do, and while I'm not mad about my progress I also realize that I can do more. I think that is a good thing.
What do I mean? My overall goals for the year: write 4 books – 2 novels, 2 novellas – and keep the queries out. So far? Have a full with a potential agent who I like to think is salivating over my words but in actuality probably hasn't gotten to me or is busy with the red pen as I write this. I've got both of my full projects loosely plotted and character arched. I have 1 of my novellas plotted and it's looking more like a series of novellas (is that possible? Have no idea as this is my first stab at novella-land) than a single story. So, I'm making good progress. The actual writing of said books begins this week.
Back to my second question-answer. 'I realize that I can do more'. Okay, I'm not a complete idiot and I know that when I get in to the actual writing there will be issues. There have already been issues – it took me over two weeks to plot and character arc 1 book, and I'm still not happy with it. The novella idea completely stymied me until I decided to just got for the series idea and deal with it. And yet I am still on-target with one-quarter of February in the books. Holy cow, February is here!
For me the schedule is the key in the lock of goal-setting. I have a busy non-fiction writing schedule, a toddler, a husband who also works from home and a radio show. Not to mention blogging and RWA chapter meetings and family commitments and the list goes on. But I've scheduled in my time to write, I've figured out my rewards system and I'm doing it. My calendar has all these pretty, red Xs on days I've hit my goals. I so don't want to break the chain.
Are you rewarding yourself this year? Are you sticking with your goals? Or do you need to rework things? It's still early in 2011, now is the time to make those changes…come on, tell me about your challenges. It just might help you move forward.
In my 'real' life, I'm a freelance writer. Most of you guys know that. I write business/marketing articles for several publishers and I also write family/parenting articles. This week was a really busy one - had several phone interviews about different things. One interview really stood out - and not in a good way.
I was chatting with an executive about some new products available from his company. This is a subject he should have been ready for, a subject he knew things about.
It was brutal. B R U T A L. Every question from me was met with an "Uuhhhh, well..." and would go downhill from there. And these weren't hard questions. He wasn't prepared, and he should have been because I have it on good authority that he had several other phone interviews during the week. He should have been prepared and yet, not.
I run into this a lot more than you'd think, and some of it could be chalked up to nervousness. Too much, though, is simply not being prepared. I'll admit I've been unprepared a few times myself - it is the worst feeling. Ever. As I tried to come up with a clever Friday post, I kept circling back around to this interview and how it could have been much better. Then, I thought about several blog posts I read this week that are, in their way, about being better prepared. So today I'm sharing.
Kate Walker blogged about voice and what makes it unique - something all aspiring authors need to work on.
Michelle Styles blogged about filling the well over at the Pink Heart Society. Published or un-, we all need to refill the well from time to time so we're prepared for the next book.
Scott Eagan blogged about what agents (and editors) are really looking for. It's so simple it's profound...and yet many of us on Unpubbed Island still miss it.
And my chapter-mate, Jill Kemerer, blogged about building an online presence -even before the contract comes. Talk about being prepared!
The best thing I do to prepare? I research my market, I read as much as possible and I research a little more. And, every day, I write. I sit down at my computer, turn off the Internet connection and I write. Some days the words flow, some days I struggle, but every day I write I feel a little bit closer to my goal of being a published writer. I know that inspired or not, I can put words on a page, and isn't that half the battle?
We all have them. Favorite books or movies, pictures or music. Things that help us define what is perfect about a thought or idea; most people consider books to be touchstones. I also like to think of touchstones as things which set our world back on its axis after a gruelling day (or month or year), as a piece of myself that I find along the journey. Thanks to a song or movie or book or picture, I find a little piece of myself that I didn't know was missing.
You know what is really funny? I've been finding these pieces of myself for as long as I can remember. You'd think I'd be a full person by now!
I started thinking of touchstones as I was cleaning off my desk last week. Many of my touchstones are stored right here. There is a picture of a dawn thunderstorm over the Grand Canyon. My iPod is never far away and is filled with favorite songs past and present - yeah, even a few of those goofy one-hit-wonders are there. There is a Coca-Cola can-shaped puzzle with about four pieces missing. I should throw the thing away, but I find that when I'm stuck I can pick it up, roll it around a little and find an answer. That kind of free therapy is a must have in my life as a writer!
Even a few of my keeper-shelf books have made a permanent residence of my desk. There is a ragged copy of Snow Bride by Margery Hilton (the first Harlequin Presents book I ever read), a picture book of lost-and-found treasure stories and a leather-bound edition of Byron's poems that I rescued from a library fire sale. It is falling apart, the leather is cracked and faded. I'm not particularly fond of Byron's poems (I know, sacriledge) but there is a love-note-dedication written in the front for 'Midge' from 'Thompson' that I adore.
These are just a few of the things that help set my world right when things aren't going well..and when things are swimming along? They help me remember that I am a truly blessed girl.
Do you have a touchstone (or three)? Do you keep it close or hidden away to pull out when it's really needed?
is kind of like wrapping up a book to me. Shows that are cancelled with no notice, that don't wrap up the loose ends, that leave me hanging as to what happened with the characters drive me up the wall.
Kind of like books. But I digress...
I'm a huge fan of Life Unexpected - a show that wasn't even supposed to be on this season but that the network picked up...just to make me happy I'm sure. Anyhow, over the Christmas/New Years break that all shows take I saw that the show had actually been cancelled. I was excited to see The End and crushed at the same time because I knew there was a lot - and I mean, a L O T - of story left to tell. So the excitement? Was about seeing how the writers wrapped up a show that could have potentially gone on for three or four more season.
This week The End came - I am so glad I watched!
I won't tell you the whole story because if you're a fan you've seen it and if not you don't care. Suffice it to say, the loose ends were tied up, we were left knowing the characters were having their happy ending and would lead great lives. Awesome.
I have to say endings in books, much like endings of tv shows or movies, sometimes end badly for me. In 'literature', especially, I've been having these issues, romance and mystery (my go-to-genres)? Not so much. Those loose ends are tied up. But, in several 'literary' titles I've read in the past year the loose ends aren't tied up - sure the main story arc is complete, but what about those little trailing details? The parts that were important enough to drive the H/h apart or bring them together but that aren't really addressed by their happy ever after? I've been thinking about that a lot lately - about what makes a good ending. I'm not sure all of my books have good endings, but as I try to draw up a plan to make sure all of my current and future books will, I'm left wondering -- what makes a good ending to a book?
For me, it's all about the loose ends - those emotional questions in traditional romances (those that are the premise of the story) should be answered, in RS all those crime angles need to be completed, in paranormal the world needs to be left with a feeling of hope.
I'd also like to have an inkling (not necessarily a wedding, 5 kids and 10 grandkids knowledge) that their lives really do end happily. That this is the love of a lifetime for the characters, that though they began the book fractured and broken they end the book healing and/or whole.
What about you? Do you need to know everything about their lives or do you like a little imagination leeway? Is it important to only tie up the areas of characters' lives that are highlighted in the story?Posted By: Kristina Knight @ 4:17:02 AM
I'll readily admit that I used to worship at the Louis L'Amour altar a couple times a month (thanks in part to my older brother). I loved those alpha guys, standing up for the little guy...and their strong women backing them up and sometimes leading the way. In college I got hooked on Diana Palmer's Long Tall Texans (Calhoun, Justin and Tyler to be specific). Ahhhhhh...
Oh! Sorry, I was blogging wasn't I? Okay, refocusing. Those books were a nice comtemporary alternative to true Westerns, which I still love but don't read often. It's been fun to see the resurgence of historical romances set in the West. I love a good Regency Rake, but cowboys are just so... Ahhhh...
Okay, refocused. Again. As I was avoiding research for the new wip cleaning the house, I saw my dog-eared copy of Long, Tall Texans, which made me think of those great L'Amour books and the new Westerns I've seen on bookshelves lately. I think I might pick one up.
What's on your keeper list? Are all of the books there sure to bring a smile to your face just by looking at the cover? There to take you to a simpler time, maybe when you were curled up in bed, too sick for school and too bored to stare at the ceiling for another minute?
P.S. I'm blogging over at WordWranglers today about dealing with rejection...stop by when you have a sec, k?
Why the 2 of hearts instead of an Ace or King? It's my favorite card - kind of fitting since I'm a romance writer, I think.
I'm easily entertained. Things like poker tournaments and the lottery fascinate me. First, there is the obvious chance of getting something for nothing. Who doesn't want to make $1,000,000+ for a buck? On a whim Christmas Eve, my DH grabbed a handful of scratchers - and won $500. And neither of us has bought a ticket since then. I'm sure he or I will at some point, but our lotto fix has been taken care of for now.
And yet, I gamble all the time. In 2005 I quit my job as a television news producer to begin freelance writing full-time. That is when I started taking my fiction writing seriously, too. A cross-country move and an adoption later, I'm still taking myself seriously. Still pushing forward. Still gambling on myself.
The best part? I'm doing well. I have an ongoing contract for freelance work, I've sold pieces to several big magazines. Fiction-wise, I still don't have That Contract. But I've submitted work on my own and received amazing feedback that has helped me improve. I've completed 5 novels and have more in the works. I'm shopping around for an agent and am sending in a requested full this week.
Will 2011 be the year I get The Call? I honestly don't know...but I'm going to keep gambling on myself.
What about you? Will you join me in this gambling life?
Being still and doing nothing are two very different things ~~ Mr. Han, Karate Kid (2010 version)
Your focus needs more focus ~~ Mr. Han, Karate Kid (2010 version)
This weekend, my husband and I had a movie marathon - including the new Karate Kid flick. Five movies, two (and a half) days. How'd we do it with a toddler? Grandma (known in our fam as Nanny) did a sleep over. Grandmother's, Nanny's, MeMaw's, etc. are wonderful things, but that isn't the point of this post. The point is noise.
In my every day life, I have a lot of noise. A 2-year-old will do that to you naturally, but it isn't just the toddler. I have non-fiction projects and deadlines, self-imposed deadlines for my fiction writing, I have a critique group, I take workshops, I read (for pleasure and for work), I get an average of 200 emails/day, I have a busy husband, a radio show 2 nights/week, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and the list goes on.
I should just cut some things out? I'd like to, but everything on my list is a Must Do. Not preparing for my radio show means no more show. No workshops means no learning. Not answering emails? Well, I'd be out of a job. Ignoring my critique group? Not gonna happen. Dropping the nonfiction? Uh-uh. Dropping the fiction? Tried. Can't. So I've learned to focus and be still.
First, focus. I can get through a list of 70 emails (even replying) in under a half-hour most days because I prioritized my inboxes. Things that can wait, wait. I do the simple first and come around for a second go-round if I don't clear the box. When I'm in the middle of a workshop, I've found I can use 15-20 minute 'breaks' to deal.
How do I do it? It all started with a kitchen timer. Email piling up? I set the timer for 30 minutes and deal with it. Haven't dealt with a workshop class? Set the time for 20 minutes and dive in. For those 20 or 30 minutes, I don't look at new mail, I don't click off the workshop page/email/chat. I focus on the task at hand. The first few days that timer annoyed me to death. Two years into timing things and I find I can focus totally into a small project and have it finished before the ringing bell.
Which brings me to the first quote above: Being still is not the same as doing nothing. In the midst of the noise - even the work-related noise - we all need to take time for ourselves or we'll lose focus. On everything. Finding ways to be still? I can't tell you how to do that. I've found several things that help me - I take a mid-afternoon break to play video games, I go for walks and sometimes I just drop everything to play with the kiddo. That's the best 'being still' I've found.
What methods have you found that help you find your focus? How do you take time for yourself in the middle of a hectic day?Posted By: Kristina Knight @ 1:53:16 AM
Another Friday is here - what did you write this week? Me first? Okay, here goes. I finished 2 chapters in the new WIP, revised/re-read 5 chapters in the Going To The Agent manuscript. But I didn't do everything I was supposed to do. My New Year's Resolution is to write (fiction) every day. I managed to write fiction 4 days. I know, still 2 days left in the week, but I broke my chain. Wah!
What's my chain? I read a very inspirational - and motivational - article about Jerry Seinfeld about productivity. You know what he does to keep himself accountable? He X's out the calendar. In his office he has a ginormous wall calendar. Every day he works on his comedy/writing, he gets to make a big red X on the date. According to Jerry, he's been doing this for years and it's the best way he's found to be accountable and productive because after a couple of days he doesn't want to break the chain of X's on his calendar. I liked the idea so I borrowed it. My calendar this week has four big X's on it so I'm not complaining, but I will do better next week.
I've also been re-reading and marking up Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance and finding a few gems I missed the first time around. I really like Kate's book...along with Leslie Wainger's "Dummies..." book and "Frist Draft in 30 Days"...lemme just say 'sigh'. They are my 3 favorite craft books and have made me a much better writer.
My goal for the next week: 7,000 new words. To get there I need to write at least 1400 words 5 days next week. That means five big black X's...Oh, I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. ;) I also want to finish revisions/re-reading of the To Be Submitted book.
Okay, now you. How did you do goal-wise this week? And is your progress (or lack thereof) making you excited and more motivated for the week ahead?Posted By: Kristina Knight @ 6:00:52 PM
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