Jeanne: Taking the Chill Off

This week, as you probably know by now, the Eight Ladies are doing a series of linked posts on the topic of cold start processes–that is, how we get back into our work-in-progress after being away from it awhile.

The idea to do these posts started when my sister posted this video of Diana Gabaldon on Facebook and tagged me:

The video really surprised me, because my own cold start process is day-and-night different from Diana’s.

When I’m trying to pick back up after being away from a work-in-progress for a while, I figure out what scene needs to happen next and work on that.

So, while Diana is examining the way light falls on crystal, I’m thinking:

  • Which characters are in this scene?
  • Which characters have a stake in this scene? That is, they don’t just happen to be there, they have a goal to accomplish.
  • What are their scene goals? The scene needs to have both a protagonist and and antagonist with mutually exclusive, or at least competing, goals,
  • Next, I work on the beats of the scene. What will each character do to attempt to achieve their goal? What will the other character do or say to block them and advance their own goal? I try to identify at least three beats (attempts to meet goal).
  • At this point, I’m ready to try actually writing. With this skeleton outline of the scene up on my secondary screen, I start letting the characters talk to each other on my primary screen.
  • If my head is actually in the game, the scene generally takes a left turn as I write it. The characters don’t do or say what I have laid out for them. They have their own ideas. That’s how I know I’ve tapped into my creative side.

My first drafts are generally 90% dialogue. To be honest, my finished product is probably still 75% dialogue or body language. I go back in and add setting when my critique partners complain that they don’t know where they are.

So what happens when my patented technique doesn’t work? I go back and reread the manuscript from the beginning, tweaking. This isn’t my first choice because, as the manuscript grows, it becomes time-consuming.

What do you do?

 

Jeanne: What’s in a Blurb?

Blurb WriterAs I mentioned in last week’s progress report, I hired the inimitable Kat Sheridan to write back cover copy for The Demon Always Wins. 

Although it’s possible to write your own cover copy, and many writers do, I find it difficult to get the proper distance from my work to do that well. Kat is great at what she does, and really reasonable. Even at minimum wage, I would have spent more trying to write the thing myself.

So, I went online and filled out her Standard Fiction Work Order. It asks for title, author, short description and then descriptions of the two main characters, along with any additional characters the author deems worthy of blurb space. Continue reading

Jeanne: January Progress Report

So I had one goal for January: Finish the book.

I am sad to report that I did not meet that goal. The book is currently 293 pages, around 75,000 words, but I still have eleven scenes to go.

In case you’re wondering what happened, it’s the same thing that always happens to me. I think up all these cool bits and pieces as I go along, but when I get to the end, I can’t get them to fit together.

Hell’s encompassing goal in this book is to eliminate the influence of Rachel Blackmon, my protagonist’s mother and famous inspirational sculptor, from the face of the earth. Rachel left behind a body of work that included crosses and crucifixes in churches all over the world, along with four small statues representing Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which she created for her four children. She also left behind some leather-bound journals, where she detailed her thoughts and emotions on her work and her life. And I want all of that stuff to mean something. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Shelly Chalmers

Today we’re talking to Shelly Chalmers. I met Shelly through the Golden Network, the organization that allows Golden Heart® finalists to stay in touch and support each other. Shelly is the Communication Chair, which means she’s the cheerleader who’s always posting little motivational memes in our Facebook group and reminding us to keep pursuing our dreams.

She also does a great job of modeling that behavior. After becoming a finalist in 2014, she went on to publish her first book, Must Love Plague, last October.

You can read a sample chapter here if you’re interested. Continue reading

Jeanne: Writing at the Speed of Snail

Back during World War I, a British man named C. Northcote Parkinson did some research into work and bureaucracy. From the research, he created Parkinson’s Law, which states “Work expands so as to fill the amount of time available to complete it.”
I’m running into that exact same problem with my writing.

When I was still working, I wrote 10-20 hours a week. Now it’s more like 20-25 (no, not 40, because other tasks also expand to fill the amount of time available for them). But with twice as much time, I’m not getting twice as much written. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Sandra Owens

Product DetailsSandy Owens is legendary among the Golden Heart® crowd because she went from unpublished in 2013 to RWA® Honor Roll* less than five years later. As we started working together on this interview, I quickly realized why: the woman has an awe-inspiring capacity for turning out high quality work.

Question 1: In your new series, Aces and Eights, a trio of brothers own a biker bar in Miami as a front for their FBI work. How did you get your information about the inner workings of the FBI? Continue reading

Jeanne: December Progress Report

My overarching goal, if you may remember, is to release a trilogy of paranormal romances in the fall of 2018.

At the end of last month, I was optimistic. I knew that to reach that goal, I needed to finish an editor-ready draft of the second book, The Demon’s in the Details, and be ready to start on the third book, a Faust story about a writer who sells her soul to the devil to make the New York Times bestseller list, in January.

I was feeling pretty good about meeting that goal.

Unfortunately, December proved to be one of those months that afflicts both men and mice–my plans went agley,.
Continue reading