Nancy: August Accountability Thread

I’ve been pondering the theoretical physics of time recently, wondering how time applied to the 24-hour news cycle proceeds at such a glacially-slow slog, while time applied to my writing goals and deadlines moves at warp speed. Alas, my only conclusion is that time and the current universe in which we live are weird and unfathomable. Regardless, time waits for no one, so let’s get on with our accountability thread on this fine August Monday.

July Progress

1) Finish the Story Genius foundational work and revise/polish the first 50 pages of HFF Novel 2. Done! Plus, I’ve written the ‘aha! moment’ scenes (that’s a Story Genius term) and the final scenes from the POV of both the hero and heroine, so I have something like a quarter of the book out of my head and down on paper. Bonus: I’m having so much fun with this story! It’s a bit more of a romp than the other books in the series thus far. Continue reading

Nancy: Because It’s Summer, That’s Why

Two weeks ago, I wrote post #1 about endings, because I was nearing the end of my Women’s Fiction WIP (Take the Money and Run, for those of you keeping score at home). I promised that after last week’s accountability post, I’d be back this week to share endings part 2, complete with an analysis of some of my favorite endings. Yeah, I’m not going to do that. At least not this week.

The truth is, my obsession with endings has temporarily abated. I typed THE END on the first draft of that WIP a week and a half ago and have delved headlong into the prep work for my next Victorian Romance novel. In a few weeks, I’ll be circling back to revise the opening scene (yet again!) of the WF story to make sure it resonates with the ending, so maybe we’ll talk endings part 2 then.

In the meantime, let’s talk about some fabulous summer pastimes: lounging on the beach, sipping frozen cocktails, reading great books, and engaging in library porn. Continue reading

Nancy: July Accountability Thread

Wow. June 2018. What a month. I’m exhausted on so many levels. But still standing (mostly), still fighting the good fight, and still hoping for a better month to come. Also, just returning from a weekend out of town, overseeing multiple house projects, and preparing for houseguests coming at the end of the week. And fighting with my web host over my site they broke two weeks ago and still haven’t fixed.

But that’s no excuse for slacking off on July goals! First, a quick recap of my progress in June. Let’s take a look-see at those goals from what feels like a century ago.

June Progress

1) Finish the first draft of the Women’s Fiction project. Done! I typed THE END on the first draft just this past Friday! Of course, it’s only the end of phase one. Now the real work begins. Writing: It’s a process. Rewriting: It’s a necessary evil.

2) Finish the romance novella and novel 1 revisions. Yeah, kinda sorta. Continue reading

Nancy: And In the End…Elements of Strong Finales, Part I

I’ve been thinking a lot about story endings for the past few weeks as I near the end of the first draft of my Women’s Fiction WIP. But in truth, I’m always thinking about story endings – mine and others’ – from the first page or a manuscript or book, the first episode of a TV series, or the opening scene of a movie. (Cue PSA: This is your brain on writing.) But when I’m actually coming up on a final page of my own, I have an irresistible urge to procrastinate look at beginnings and endings of other stories.

This topic was an important part of the McDaniel course training of the eight ladies, and with good reason. The ending has so much weight to pull. Tie together disparate loose ends, but not too tightly. Illustrate the character arcs with subtlety and call-backs to other important moments in the story. Keep the story promise that made the reader/viewer join you for the story journey way back in the beginning when you were just saying hello. And then there’s the kicker that applies to every part of the story, but is magnified for the writer at the end of a WIP (often resulting in a frenzy of head-desking, second-guessing, and thinking that something else – anything else! – would be a better/smarter/easier use of one’s time than writing): there is no universally right ending to your story, only less wrong ones. For proof of this, you need only read online discussions and dissections of every movie and TV series ending that has occurred since the advent of the internet.

I’ve had many of my own moments of ‘Oh no, they didn’t!’ at the ends of books, movies, and TV series. Looking just at TV, I was annoyed and let-down by the end of How I Met Your Mother, and am wont to believe the story (rumor?) that the writers expected a much shorter run, and never really adapted their vision of the ending when the series ran for many more years than they’d expected. Don’t get me started on the Seinfeld ending. And – yes, I’m going to go there – I have mixed emotions about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series ending, which missed a lot of obvious opportunities for emotional impact and story promise fulfillment, but that also got a lot right.

So over the past few weeks, as I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding my own ending preparing for the important task of writing a fabulous ending, I’ve revisited beginnings and endings of several books and TV series, and have broken them down into elements that set my little writer heart all a-twitter.

The Story Promise Revisited.   Continue reading

Nancy: The Big Reveal: Name Change

Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare’s Romeo told Juliet, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, roses and amorous suitors aside, turns out there is something to a name, especially when it comes to a writing career. Some weeks ago, I went on a quest determine the best name(s) forward for my planned multi-genre writing career.

For as long as those of you reading the blog have known me, I’ve been Nancy Hunter because that’s the name I chose a decade ago (!!!) when I had a book come out with a publisher. At the time, I worked in a very intense and Very Serious career, and needed to keep some daylight between it and my writing life. This was not a deep cover pen name, as co-workers with appropriate googling skills would occasionally uncover my ‘secret identity’. And HR departments always knew it, because I had to claim my intellectual property (IP) at the outset, lest the corporations employing me try to claim writing created on my own time as theirs. (Gotta love corporate America: for the price of your salary, they claim the right to monetize everything you say, do, think, and feel every minute of every day, please and thank you.)

Lo these many years later, I’ve left that corporate world. I swear! Girl Scout’s honor (yes, I was actually a Girl Scout, so you can trust me). And in addition to the freedom to make my own schedule and write whenever and where ever and whatever I see fit, I also now have the freedom to use my very own legal name. If I so choose… Continue reading

Nancy: June Accountability Thread

It’s officially June, unofficially summertime, and nearly the midpoint of 2018. Unbelievable, right? While I’m trying to figure out where the hell May went, let’s take a look at all the great things we did this past month and set some new goals (or update some old ones) for the new month.

One of the things I’m trying to do more often this year is appreciate the non-writing parts of my life so I can reintroduce some balance into my world. In May, I visited out-of-state relatives, saw a fantastic opera at the Kennedy Center with my favorite (and coincidentally only) daughter, tried some new kinds of Scotch, and hopped a plane to Boston and then drove into the wilds of Massachusetts to meet up with other writers in person. (In fact, I’m writing this blog post on the plane ride home!) Although that last one was a writers’ retreat and therefore writing related, it also included talking about life stuff, making s’mores around a campfire, and dogs – Maya and Dustin, our unofficial retreat mascots. Continue reading

Nancy: Summer is for Lovers (of Books)

Here in the US, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of the summer season. Yes, the official first day of summer is nearly a month away, but in most of the country, temperatures are already rising, vacations are on the calendar, and list upon list of summer reading recommendations are splashed across newspapers, magazines, and various and sundry corners of the internet.

Most of us here on the blog are avid, year-round readers, so we hardly need an excuse to pick up more books. But it is fun to check out curated lists and find some books that are hot and trending, cool and refreshing, or just downright emotionally satisfying. This weekend, in between family cookouts and sipping mango margaritas, I came across some lists that have put me into a book-buying frenzy. The side effect of this is, of course, that a reading frenzy will soon ensue. #readerproblems Continue reading