Jilly: Christmas and Community

christmas-and-communityJust three weeks of 2016 left!

The first few days of December are always the calm before the storm. I’ve been inching forward with my WIP; wrestling with my synopsis, which needs to be totally rewritten; working on the edit of my first 50 pages; and thinking some more about how to keep my story alive when the holidays are in full swing.

Last Sunday I put together a list of ways to stay in touch your story on a daily basis – quick tricks that could be squeezed into the most packed schedule. Then, on Thursday, Kay tracked down some productivity insights offered by the prolific film and TV writer-producer-director, Joss Whedon. I’m especially grateful for the tip about the importance of rewarding oneself early and often. 🙂

Yesterday, to my surprise, I added another strand to my holiday week WIP survival plan. Continue reading

Jilly: Do I Really Need All These People?

All These PeopleDo you enjoy stories with a large cast of supporting characters, or do you prefer ones with a narrower, more concentrated focus?

I’ve been battling my inner editor this week. I got to the point in my WIP where the heroine and hero butt heads for the first time. My heroine desperately needs help, and the hero’s father is the only person who can provide it. Unfortunately, giving her the help she needs will put the hero’s entire family in mortal danger, so the hero is absolutely not going to let her go there – until he discovers a compelling reason why he must (took me ages to figure out one strong enough) 🙂 .

Once I’d got both the hero and heroine answering the call to action together, I knew Continue reading

Nancy: I Heart Writers

Put Your Heart In a BookAs we here in the Mid-Atlantic start digging ourselves out of the snow (34 inches at our house!), I find my mind wandering to thoughts of warmer climes. Last year around this time, most of the 8 ladies converged on Neen’s house in sunny Arizona, and Neen was kind enough to extend that offer to us again this year. Unfortunately, 2016 finds many of us are suffering from life interruptus and unable to make the trip. Oh, how I wish that had not been the case as I bundle up and trek outside to figure out which white lump is hiding my car.

But in truth, it’s not the 70+ degree F weather in January I miss. It’s the amazing camaraderie of being in the same time and place as these other wonderful writers. Continue reading

Jilly: Series – What’s Your Catnip?

Series - What's Your CatnipDo you read, write or watch series? What keeps you coming back for more?

Series was one of the buzzwords at this year’s RWA National. There were workshops with titles like Writing a Series That Sells Forever, Building the Successful Single-Title (or Category) Series and Payoffs and Pitfalls of Writing Connected Books; a quick look at Amazon.com’s romance bookstore is enough to explain why. Here’s a selection of their top twelve editors’ picks for this year so far, in best-selling Continue reading

Jilly: Finding Inspiration in Eyam

Derbyshire Well Dressing  (copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

Derbyshire Well Dressing
(copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

I didn’t write a word this week, but I did top up my creative well with a powerful mixture of present beauty and past heroism.

I spent an exhausting but productive few days in darkest Derbyshire, sorting out family stuff with my brother and mother. In a fit of optimism I took my laptop and all my notebooks, but brought them back with me unopened. I had plenty of time to think about story, though, as I sat in traffic jam after traffic jam, because late June is Well Dressing time in the Peak District, and people were out in their droves to visit and take photographs.

In rural Derbyshire, the tradition of decorating wells, springs and other water sources using designs created from flower petals and plant material dates back to the 1300s. It began as a pagan practice to give thanks for clean water during the period of the Black Death. Now the wells are a beautiful tourist-friendly photo-opportunity, but five hundred years ago, one of them played a critical part in ensuring the survival of the region.

The story starts Continue reading