Kay: Quiz for Y’all—Would You Go Here?

7 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 3 half baths, 5,000 sq ft, small city environment

Motivated by the arts community Yaddo, I cooked up an idea some time ago that I’ve begun pursuing with some interest.

For those who don’t click on the link, Yaddo is an artists’ retreat located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York, where artists of all stripes can apply to work for up to two months. They get a studio and room and board for free if they’re accepted. Collectively, Yaddo artists have won 74 Pulitzer Prizes, 29 MacArthur Fellowships, 68 National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel for Literature in 1976). Notable Yaddo artists include James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Patricia Highsmith, Continue reading

Jilly: Pity Party

So, how was your week? Mine started well, but from there it’s been downhill all the way.

The good news is that I successfully uploaded my *three* entries to the RWA Golden Heart Contest website. Two of them still require tweaking, but they’re close to ready, and seeing the titles set up on the contest system gave me a huge sense of satisfaction. 😀

I celebrated by hurting my back. Fortunately it was muscular, and a few sessions of physiotherapy have helped no end, but while it lasted the effects were spectacular. Getting out of bed was a four-step process, with screaming. Sitting at a desk was impossible, so no GH tweaking happened this week 😦

I marked the improvement in my mobility by cracking a tooth. I’ll have a new crown for Christmas, please, Santa 😦 😦

And to put the lid on things, I somehow acquired a bonus ear infection 😦 😦 😦

They say things go in threes, so I’m hoping that’s my last nasty surprise. All being well, I’ll have butt in chair/hands on keyboard soon, and I’ll see you all back here in two weeks with this year’s Christmas Short Story.

Here’s hoping your week was better than mine. Did good things happen to you?

Jeanne: A Week of Firsts

The Demon Always WinsThe second week of November was a week of firsts for me as an author:

  • My first opportunity to meet with a book club (who had all read my book!)
  • My first author signing event
  • My first piece of fan mail (okay fan email) from a total (well, near-total) stranger

The book club invitation came from a former co-worker. I thought it would be fun, but it turned out even better than I expected. It turns out that there’s something really gratifying about people liking your book enough to want to know how you came up with the idea and wondering about all kinds of details you wove in.

They also invited me to read. After a short discussion, we settled on the first scene from The Demon’s in the Details, the second book in the series, which comes out in January. They must have liked it, because they invited me to come back once it’s out.

The next day, I attended my first author signing event. A little town about twenty miles south of where I live holds a Christmas Festival each year, including a parade and lots of vendors. The historical society arranges a signing event for local authors–first come, first served. As soon as I saw the notice on Facebook, I hopped right on it. Continue reading

Michille: Recipe for Writing

Maple Glazed Turkey DinnerSpecifically, writing for NaNoWriMo. And I have discovered a couple of things while using NaNo to get back into the habit of daily writing. The biggest discovery is that I can’t do it without changing my routine. I have had some very successful writing days, which for me is about 3,500 words, but every one of those days this month have either started at 4 a.m. or the family is scattered so I don’t have to bother with dinner. I’m not a fan of getting up at 4 a.m., but I work full-time and exercise (and make dinner most nights) so there’s not a lot of free time in my day.

I was on a writing roll on Sunday morning. I got up early. Not at 4 a.m., but around 6 a.m. and everyone was still sleeping so I wrote about 1,700 words and planned to get back to it in the afternoon. But there was the planned 6-mile hike with my cousin, a trip to the grocery store, football which I combined with prepping some Thanksgiving side dishes, then dinner prep, dinner, and clean up. And THEN I could sit down again to write. The roll had turned into a lump and I struggled to put a couple hundred more words on the page, but was too tired to do much more than that.

Let me get back to my successful days. Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all—Now What Do I Do?

I finished my last book. I’ve revised it. It’s done.

Usually when that happens, I get a new idea. For a long time now, like clockwork, when the old book ends, the new one appears. It’s like the Girls were thinking about it while I was concentrating on other things, and when I’m ready, they send up the next demand, er, suggestion. The transition is flawless. The second I type “The End,” I can type “Chapter One.”

Not this time.

This time, I the Girls are on vacation, asleep, or, heaven forbid, dead.

I’ve got nothing.

There are ideas I could pursue, extensions of ideas I’ve already worked on. For example: Continue reading

Nancy: Is That a Book on Your Wall?

There comes a time in every story’s life when, in order to grow up into a book, it will undergo revisions. And just as my writing process has evolved over the years and tends to require variations based on the needs of each book, so too has my revision approach changed over time. One constant, though, is at some point, I need to look at the story differently by literally changing its appearance.

I’ve used the standard tricks over the years. Change the entire manuscript to a different font. Color code each POV or type of scene/action occurring. Print out the document in hard copy. For my current revision  fiasco project, I needed a new trick. Cue the music of worlds colliding as I realized I might have just the right tool sitting in the toolbox I used for my “day job” career.  In that career, I managed projects creating business proposals made up of multiple volumes of information, sometimes with hundreds of pages in each volume. These proposals had strict margin, font, and formatting requirements; included graphics, tables, and charts; and usually had page limitations per volume as well.

Teams would write, revise, and review the documents online, but by the time we got to our first round of document reviews and revisions, it was time to hang that puppy…er, proposal…on the wall. It’s such an industry-standard practice that companies with enough capital (and interest in investing in the department that brings in the business) install rails on the wall that are sized to slide 8.5×11-inch pages in and out of them. And it’s such an important step to get the big-picture visual of the proposal’s progress that if the CEO walks into a war room (the affectionate name for conference rooms where teams work on these projects) and does not see the proposal on the wall, someone in my position could get fired over it.

In other words, multi-billion dollar companies take this tool seriously.

I’m not suggesting there’s a lot of cross-over between what works for such companies and what works for novelists. I’m just willing to look far and wide for ways to get through the #E(*@+%! revision process. It’s that kind of thinking that gets you a wall full of a book manuscript and a spouse sleeping with one open in case you’ve really snapped this time. Continue reading

Jeanne: The Stages of a Manuscript

quill-175980_640Stage 1: This is a brilliant idea! Once this thing is published, it will make me instantly famous and very, very rich.

Stage 2: Okay, it’s a good idea, but how in the world am I going to make this work?

Stage 3: Whatever possessed me to think this was a good idea? Joss Whedon himself couldn’t figure out how to make all these pieces come together.

Stage 4: Okay, okay, I think I see how it can work. I really am pretty smart.

Stage 5: But I SUCK as a writer. This has to be the most boring pile of manuscript crap ever committed to paper.

Stage 6: So that was a pretty good scene. Clever banter, a little humor. Maybe not every reader will abandon ship on page 1.

Stage 7: I have a book! It didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would (or, it turned out nothing like I thought it would), but there’s a worthwhile story here.

Stage 8: Okay, it’s out in the world. How do I make people aware of its existence?

Here’s where I am with the first three books in my demon series:

Book 1: Stage 8

Book 2: Stage 7 (with sudden trips back to Stage 3 as I work through my editor’s feedback)

Book 3: Stage 3

How about you?