Michille: National Novel Writing Month

NaNo-Shield-Logo-Web

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” It starts on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in that timeframe. I’ve tried it before and was almost successful once.

So how does it work? The NaNo-er signs up and completes a profile, decides what to write, selects a “home region” (used for stats on the website and offers the potential to meet with others in your area for writing time or inspiration), and starts writing on November 1. During the month, stay tuned to the NaNo website to upload word count and check on others’ progress. Continue reading

Nancy: Another Day, Another Cover

 

Victorian Reader Drawn


This is the placeholder ‘cover’ I’ve had on my website for Too Clever by Half. This week, I can upload the real one!

I’ve been away from home and offline for the past several days, so I just caught up on the cover craze that took over 8LW this past week. That’s very fortuitous, as I now have a cover of my very own to share!

I wish I could say I had the designing chops (and confidence) of Justine, the whimsical eye of Michaeline, or the cover-judging savvy of Kay. Let’s just say I’m not one of those people who judges or buys a book by its cover. I had high hopes that I’d be able to have a quick conversation with a designer, turn the task over to her, and do a happy dance when the best cover I could ever imagine appeared in my inbox. (I can’t help that I sometimes live in fantasy land. Hazard of the fiction writing profession.)

So, when no cover fairies appeared to do my bidding for me, I began my long, arduous journey toward a cover for my soon-to-be-released (!) novella myself. I allocated a mid-level budget for the project, narrowed down the list of well-established and recommended romance cover designers in that price range, and finally chose The One. It didn’t work out. So I spent more months researching, returning to my original down-selected list, and contacting designers for scheduling information. I chose the second One. That almost crashed and burned as well. But the second time, I at least got a proof copy to consider.

The first thing I noticed about the proof copy was color. So much color. You might recall I was traveling in September, which is when the color bomb hit my inbox. I opened the email attachment in the middle of the night Copenhagen time, gasped, blinked hard, said something like ‘dear lord, that’s pink’ (possibly with a few expletives thrown in), and went back to bed for a nearly sleepless night.

Nevertheless, I persisted. From the ashes, and through some teeth-clenching emails and what felt like never-ending negotiations, a cover that started out as unworkable gradually became something usable, maybe even pretty. I’ll let you be the judge: Continue reading

Michille: Get Ready to NaNoWriMo

NaNo-Shield-Logo-Web

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I plan to NaNo this year. I usually plan to every year with varying degrees of success. Part of my prep is to look for organizers, brainstorming sheets, writing ideas, tips, etc., to provide ideas and motivation. Here are some I’ve used in the past and some I just found:

Writers Write (one of my favorite writing blogs) posted an organizer a number of years ago that some might find helpful which lead to a brainstorming worksheet and 30 tips (with lots of links for other helps).

I found some resources on the NaNo website. There is a NaNo Prep page that has useful resources. There is a webcast today that I plan to watch at 1 p.m. There is a young novelist workbook on their site, too. It is targeted to students, but I found some helpful things in the high school version. Writing buddies. I’ve never worked with one although there is one linked to me on my page and Nancy emailed me about it back in 2015. If you want to add me as a writing buddy, my NaNo name is mikeely. Or send me your name and I’ll add you to mine. There used to be a reference desk where you could ask research questions and there were some doozies on there, but I can’t find it this year. In the past, I found inspiration from some of the wacky questions people asked.

There are a lot of community NaNo happenings all over the world – all over Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe and I only scrolled a third of the way down the region page. San Francisco has a Night of Writing Dangerously. There are several write-in opportunities in my area. I’m not sure if I’m going to do one. The only time I went to one in my town, the writers all had weird furry hats on shaped like animals, except the guy with the reptile on his shoulder. Not my cuppa.

Writers Digest got in the tip game, too, with 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days and plenty of other sites have tip pages, including The Writing Cooperative, Bustle, and Storyist. And Galley Cat has a post with links from two previous NaNos

Did you know Water for Elephants (Sarah Gruen) was a NaNo novel? So was The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell), THREE Marissa Meyer books, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.

What are you doing to prepare?

Kay: How Romance Novels Can Reinvent Religion

From the Hot & Bothered podcast site

The first time I heard a feminist definition of a romance novel (female author writes a book celebrating values of love, compassion, community, and friendship, with a female protagonist who fights for what she wants and gets it), I was hooked. Those books were for me.

Can romance novels create a new feminist dynamic? I don’t know. But women and men read romances for the hope they offer, the comfort they give, and the values they aspire to. That’s good enough for me. And if they help create a new feminist dynamic, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

But there’s more! I recently read an article by Kimberly Winston in the Washington Post that suggests that religion can be reinvented through romance novels—that because of the themes and values romance novels showcase, they can be considered sacred texts. Holy bodice ripper, Batman! Continue reading

Michille: Just Can’t Help Falling in Love

Difficult Choice. . .  With Romance Novels.

This was a recent topic on The 1A on NPR. The topic was romance novels in general and the lack of diversity in romance novels specifically.

The guests were Alisha Rai, romance author of the “Forbidden Hearts” series; Alexandra Alter, publishing reporter for The New York Times; Sarah Wendell, Co-founder of “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books”; Leah Koch, Co-owner and founder of The Ripped Bodice.  Continue reading

Nancy: Copenhagen (and Denmark) Blues

Black Diamond on the Water. This extension of the Royal Danish Library opened in 1999. It plays a key role in Nick’s story.

As you no doubt gleaned from last week’s post, I’ve recently been an intrepid world traveler. Well, OK, I traveled to one other country, but I crossed six time zones and spent three days on each end of the trip battling severe jet lag, so it feels like it’s been quite a trek, and I’m happy to be home safe and sound and finally getting back on east coast time.

Because you can take the writer out of her cave but you can’t take the cave out of the writer, or something like that, I spent some of my three weeks in Denmark being a tall, dark, and handsome, thirty-year-old, half-American/half-Danish, mixed-race man. In my head, of course. (I might be able to pull off a lot of things, but tall and thirty are not on that list). I’m talking, of course, about my fictional character Nicholai* Jens Olesen, Nicky O to his American friends. This was my first trip to the country since I’d conceived of the Copenhagen-set mystery series, so I did my best to view it from Nick’s eyes. In addition to helping me solidify my vision of what Denmark means to this character, it also revealed important things about the character himself.

A Few Things About Nick

A Very Danish House with Thatched Roof. This is the kind of house where Nick probably spent some of his summers.

He’s much more American than Danish. Technically, as his (now deceased) father was a Danish citizen and his mother is American, I think he can still claim Danish citizenship (but it’s complicated, so more research required!). As a child, he spent a couple of months every summer and some additional weeks most Christmas vacations in DK, has visited frequently as an adult, and did some of his graduate work in the country, so he definitely has a foot securely planted in this culture. But the majority of his time has been spent in America, and when he’s placed in that character crucible and pressure is applied, his American mind-set and life approach is going to show, for better or for worse.

After his father’s death, his visits to the country will never be the same. Sadly, because of our age and the extent of my husband’s family that lives in Denmark (that’s everyone related to him except his parents, siblings, our daughter and I), every time we’ve traveled to Denmark, there are relatives we’ve lost since the previous trip. It’s especially noticeable when we cross off towns where we used to go from our must-visit list, because the loved ones we used to see there are gone. As Nick’s story begins with him being in Denmark for his father’s funeral, there are going to be lots of opportunities for him to be haunted and heartbroken by memories triggered from seeing old, familiar places. This is an important part of character development I have to keep in mind when I start the deep-dive into Nick’s soul.

A Few Things About Denmark That Impact Nick’s Story… Continue reading