Michaeline: My Favorite Tip of the Year

A Venus Pencil advertisement

Grab your pencil! Let’s write for the love of the game! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My favorite trick of the year is a mind trick. Remember when I made a word puzzle full of happy words to prime my subconscious? If not, I talked about it and the scientific evidence supporting the technique here on Eight Ladies Writing. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I had a great writing week after I did it (see results here on 8LW), and I meant to do it again. Can you believe it’s been just a smidge over 11 months since we tried this? Well, here’s trial two, just in time to give your new year a little writing boost.

Will it really work? Well, it depends on how you work. Priming experiments haven’t been reliably replicated, but . . . it may work. A Psychology Today blog here explains how priming may be the first step in “canalization”; in other words, the first step in creating a track for your thoughts to flow down. If you can channel your thoughts in the same direction enough times, they will begin to flow in that direction naturally. But like the placebo that works if you think it will work (and there is scientific evidence to prove that it might), it just might work.

Here’s the game: I’ve jumbled up some positive words. Your task is to unjumble them, and then see what happens to your writing. I’ll report back next week with my results. Here we go: Continue reading

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: Inspired by Goodman

Inspired by GoodmanIt’s been a trying few days chez Jilly. We just completed week three of our home redecoration program, and while our builders couldn’t be more charming or hard-working, a serious problem outside their control meant they had to switch to twelve-hour days, so they’ve been arriving before 8 a.m. and leaving after 8 p.m. After ten days of not sleeping in our own bed, we’ve had a week without a functioning bathroom, and despite carefully taped plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling, everything – everything – that’s not boxed up and stored away is covered with a layer of fine dust. I have to do a major cleaning job each morning before I can put my contact lenses in.

I’ve been trying to write through the disruption, not with any great degree of success. Finally yesterday, as the team left for a well-earned day off and I sat cursing various abandoned attempts at a half-decent blog post, my husband said “Stuff it. Let’s go to Goodman.”

Four hours later Continue reading

Justine: A Contemporary Regency

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

One of those contemporary historical romances that stands the test of time.

Well, not really. Evelina by Frances Burney was published in 1778, but it’s worth a look for several reasons.

First, it was read by Jane Austen and influenced her, according to various googles. The humor is certainly echoes and sharpened in Austen’s works. And despite being written in the 18th century, it’s much easier to read than the sort of 18th century literature and political writing we were exposed to in school.

Second, the book was designed as a “how to,” as in “how to behave in society.” The humorous (for us) and humiliating (for her) faux pas that Evelina commits are the lessons.

And, it’s free on Kindle. I think writers of historical will love the details and the phrasing of the book, and every writer will enjoy watching how the conflict builds and eventually releases into a happy ending. This is an epistolary novel, and the first few letters may seem tedious, but many readers will find rewards by the time our Evelina is ensconced (or is it entrenched?) in London.

If you are so inclined, try it, and let me know what you think!

Jilly: What Kind of Story Would Suit Your Home Town?

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield (Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Crooked Spire, Chesterfield
(Peter Tarleton via Wikimedia Commons)

Where did you grow up? Would it make a good setting for a story in a particular genre or sub-genre?

I’ve been living in the past this week. The sale of my mother’s house went through a few days after I got back from San Antonio, and I’ve been in Derbyshire packing up, giving away, and disposing of several lifetimes’ worth of accumulated family stuff. It was more than a trip down memory lane. I don’t think my parents (or their parents) can ever have thrown away a document, photograph or memento, and I found all kinds of old black and white and sepia toned pictures on postcard and thick card. I can just about recognize my father’s mother as a young girl, and my father’s father as a handsome, swashbuckling soldier from the First World War, but there are many Continue reading

Michaeline: Stay-Con!

Stay at home and dig deeper into your writing with a weekend plan. (Willard Leroy Metcalf, via Wikimedia Commons)

Stay at home and dig deeper into your writing with a weekend plan. (Willard Leroy Metcalf, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m so excited for my friends who are going to the Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio at the end of the month. It’s going to be a great time for them, and they are going to bring back great stories and cautions and advice to the blog!

As we all know, the RWA conference can be quite an investment – the plane tickets and the hotel and the conference itself. But even a small investment in yourself and your writing can yield big results, so I bring to you: the Stay-Con (from the comfort of your own home!). 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