Kay: I Finished the Book!

I finished the book.

Last Friday I typed “The End” on book two of a three-book trilogy about Phoebe’s adventures in romance-land. It’s been a haul for sure, starting with book 1, which I started before the McDaniel class in 2012, and didn’t progress much or at all in 2012 because of class, 2013 because of poor health, and 2015 because of family issues.

But now book 2 is finished. It still needs revisions—the last chapter in particular, which I thought I’d have to rewrite completely, but perhaps all I have to do is cut the last 1,000 words. I want to conflate two of my characters, that will take some thought. And there’s still the beta reads to go. Still, it’s all done but the shouting, as we’d say back in the Midwest.

Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that I ever got this far with it. Continue reading

Michille: Blog Steal – 9 Story Openings to Avoid

keepeducating600And for this week’s blog post steal, I’m borrowing from Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp. They started a series in June of 2016 about 9 Story Openings to Avoid. The first one is the traditional sittin’ and thinkin’. As opposed to the opening of Julia Quinn’s Brighter Than the Sun which starts with this: “Eleanor Lyndon was minding her own business when Charles Wycombe, Earl of Billington, fell – quite literally – into her life.” Continue reading

Michille: Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 52

medium_mark_gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group

One of my favorite blogs did an ongoing bit last year called “Write Your Novel In A Year.” It ended with Week 52: Keep the Momentum Going. The goal for the last week is to work on ideas and strategies for your next book. And then the blogger says, take a break, immerse yourself in someone else’s stories, and do imagination exercises. The last ‘pin it, quote it, belief it’ of the year was “I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough” (Joyce Carol Oates). Yep, been there. Continue reading

Michille: Write Your Novel In A Year, Part 3

write_your_novel_week_40_3_rulesHere is another update on the Write Your Novel In A Year series from Writers Write. We’re up to week 41 but I’m going to focus on Week 40: 3 Rules You Can Break to Start Your Story. I like rules and generally follow them. I think most writers have their own particular hard and fast ones, and play loose on other ones. Jenny Crusie is anti-prologue, Nora Roberts head hops, and Linda Howard writes big sections of straight narrative. And I like their stories. The three the blogger offers are never start your novel with a prologue, never start your novel with a description of the weather, and never start your novel with your main character alone in bed. Continue reading

Nancy: A Diamond in the Rough: Opening Scene

rough_diamondThis past week, I’ve been struggling with a side project, which is actually yet another revision of an old project, the Women’s Fiction manuscript I wrote during our McDaniel classes. The book is complete. It’s been through beta readers and revisions. It even made the rounds to a few agents and was roundly rejected. There was a lot of positive feedback in those rejections, but some negative comments as well. And the kicker was that story aspects some readers saw as positives and even loved, others saw as negatives.

Over the months of those rejections, I slowly (and painfully) made peace with the possibility that this book just wasn’t going to connect with publishing gatekeepers. Maybe someday I’d self-publish it, maybe not, but either way, other projects and deadlines and career choices called.

While I was finally ready to pack that old story into a drawer, my brain had other plans. I’d be happily immersed in 1870’s London with my new cast of characters when the three modern women from a rural Virginia town would take over my mind’s limited bandwidth. I’d be catching up with writing friends and discussing current projects, and my conversation would drift back to that old manuscript and we’d ponder what its fatal flaw might be.

The final straw came when I dreamed about the book. I spend a lot of time thinking and daydreaming about my characters and plot lines. I also tend to have vivid dreams. But rarely do these two things intertwine. I almost never dream about my writing projects. This story was different. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t quit it.

To end the constant interruptions, I decided to carve out a few hours of each day’s writing time to reread that old story in an attempt to figure out where it went wrong and whether I could rescue it. What better place to start than at the beginning? Continue reading

Fiction Fundamentals: How to be a Hooker (Writing Great Intros)

prostitute

It’s our pleasure to welcome soon-t0-be-published author Jenn Windrow to Eight Ladies Writing. To continue Justine’s series on Fiction Fundamentals, Jenn is going to talk about writing great intros. Take it away, Jenn!

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The single most important part to any book, in my opinion, is the first few paragraphs.

Why?

Because this is where you “hook” your reader. And you want nothing more than to hook your reader from the very first sentence.

Think about it, a well written first paragraph should do many things. It should tell your reader what the story is about. Set the tone. Introduce your character. Introduce your world.

I could sit here all day and tell you what you need to include in your fist paragraph, but I think it’s easier to analyze some amazing examples. So, let’s dig in. Continue reading

Michaeline: Wedding Dance

a peasant wedding from 1566 with many people dancing and enjoying themselves, among other things

Some things don’t change. Fortunately, the fashion for wearing your best codpiece to the wedding does seem to be buried in the depths of time. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The cake has been cut and the booze has been flowing freely for about an hour when you look across the dance floor, and you see him. He was at your table, and sitting, he was a well-dressed nothing. But now, he’s dancing, and there’s something about the fluid motion of his arms, the way his kneebone connects to his thighbone, and oh lordy, will you look at his hips? You look away before your heart pops over your sweetheart neckline. You look back, and there he is, asking you to dance. You take his hand, and take your place in the crowd of people swaying and celebrating a new marriage. Welcome to the dance.

What can I say about the wedding dance as a writing prompt? It permeates most cultures, so we’ve all seen it, or can enjoy it on YouTube. When you see the same ritual conducted in so many different settings, it’s easy to imagine it conducted in more fantastic places. A historical Scottish penny wedding, as described on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion website here. Or a frontier wedding dance on a newly settled planet. Or maybe a fantasy wedding in some delightful fairyland of your imagination.

And of course, what kind of story doesn’t have Things That Go Wrong? Continue reading