Elizabeth: The Memory Jar

MemoryJarA few years ago, I started the tradition of a memory jar as a way to capture the positive things that happen from day to day that have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. It was an idea I first saw on a blog about happiness and thought sounded interesting.

The idea is simple. All it takes is a jar (I re-purposed an old mason jar), some slips of paper (I have a pad of mini-colored Post-Its that I use), and a pen. When something positive happens, you write it on a slip of paper and drop it in the jar.

By the time the end of the year rolls around, you have a jar full of memories that you can pull out and enjoy all over again. It is a nice way Continue reading

Justine: Odd Habits of Writers

ernest hemingway, writing, writing life, writing habits, eight ladies writing, justine covington

Ernest Hemingway in late 1939. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Last Monday, my kids (finally!) went back to school. Since then, I’ve gotten back to the serious work of writing. By that, I mean quantifiable output and multiple, contiguous hours at the computer each day. Because I’ve been spending so much time on my book in this first week of “back to school,” I haven’t spent much time on my blog post.

I started thinking today about my daily work process:

  • Up at 5:30, shower and dress, make the kids’ lunches and breakfast and pack up their backpacks, then out the door at 7 a.m. to shuttle them to school.
  • Home by 8 and (ideally) at the computer by 8:15.
  • I’ll work pretty steady until lunchtime, then it’s either a couple more hours of writing or tae kwon do.
  • Once I pick up the kids, any semblance of writing goes out the window, although I have found that I can pre-plan scenes I need to write while my kids are in their own tae kwon do classes in the late afternoon.

While reflecting on my own schedule, I wondered what other writers do each day and was amazed at the variety, the consistency, and in some cases, the physical activity these famous writers engage in each day. You can read about them here.

What is your usual writing schedule?

Jeanne: Layering Motivation

demonThe best single workshop I attended at RWA 2014 was on character motivation by New York Times best-selling author Madeline Hunter. According to Madeline, you can escalate the tension in your novel without necessarily escalating the action by layering your protagonist’s (or antagonist’s) motivation. Since I’ve really struggled with how you keep raising the stakes without always getting into bullets flying, this was great news.

Applying this to my own work-in-progress: Dara, my protagonist, wants to keep her clinic open because: Continue reading

Jilly: Writing in Multiple Genres

Not For Novices

Not For Novices

Do you read or write across multiple genres? What would make you follow an author (or not) from one genre to another?

This week I’ve been up in Derbyshire again, handling the final details of my mother’s house sale and thinking about the great discussion that came out of last week’s post about my home county as the perfect setting for a steampunk series.

Right now, my focus is firmly on finishing and querying my WIP, a 100k-word contemporary love story set in London and the Scottish Highlands, and I already know that I want to write at least three more contemporaries set in the same world, but as I was whizzing around the Peak District and dreaming a dream or two I Continue reading

Michaeline: Characterization and Envious Casca

Envious Casca's setting is a Tudor manor house where the inhabitants conspire to make Christmas the unhappiest holiday ever. (The Old Hall at Little Moreton. Via Wikimedia Commons.)

Envious Casca’s setting is a Tudor manor house where the inhabitants conspire to make Christmas the unhappiest holiday ever. (The Old Hall at Little Moreton. Via Wikimedia Commons.)

I’ve often heard Georgette Heyer called a writer’s writer, and I think she deserves the title. This isn’t faint praise. Her books, when I read them as a reader, were a lot of good fun, but when I read them as a writer, it’s all rather amazing to see how she pulls it all together. One of her great strengths, as the publisher’s blurb says on the back of the book, is her “sparkling characterization.”

Heyer is the grandmother of the Regency, but she also wrote contemporary (for her) mysteries. This week I read Envious Casca, which is a murder mystery set in a country house before WWII.

One thing I admire is the way she makes me want to read more about the characters in her book. None of them are adorable or perky or kickass. In fact, they are Continue reading

Kat: Outlander – The Series

Outlander, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

“Outlander” (c) 2014 Starz Entertainment, LLC

One of my favorite book series is now a television show on the Starz network. Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a married British World War II nurse who is transported back in time to eighteenth century Scotland where she finds her soul mate, Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser.

For those of you unfamiliar with this fabulous series, the first book (Outlander) is a huge departure from the traditional romance novel in structure (tops out at over 1000 page) and tone (realism is the norm). It breaks other “rules” too (lots of backstory, lots of trouble, among other things). So I was interested to see exactly how the series would be adapted to the small screen. Too many times, I’ve found that television or movie adaptions fall short of the original novels and are disappointing. I was familiar with the casting (and hardily approved!), so in my mind it was a matter of whether the adaption would stick close to the book, and if it did, how the producers would cram 1000+ pages into sixteen hours. Continue reading

Michille: Same Stuff, Different Delivery

icon_large_presenterMy daughter and I are tossing around some ideas to write a new adult romantic comedy. As luck would have it, I saw an article in our local paper last Saturday morning about a writing workshop at the local public library sponsored by the Maryland Writers Association with Julie Castillo presenting. Ms. Castillo is a local author and she teaches writing at several community colleges in the area, among other things. I’ve taken a couple of her non-credit classes in the past so I knew it would likely be good. However, the workshop was billed as an interactive class for writers of all skill levels. After taking seven writing courses at McDaniel and having just returned from the RWA National Conference, I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of it but I thought it would be a good start for my daughter, as she hasn’t taken any of those writing classes. She focused on several areas but I found some very useful stuff when she talked about sentence-level editing and show, don’t tell. Continue reading