Friday, April 18, 2008

A Great Notebook For Writers - A Real Keep All

When starting a new novel, or even after digging up one of your old ones that needs a little love and care, you need a way to keep up with lots of info. The believability of your story depends on it. Even after you finish the story and send it out, there's tons of stuff to keep track of, like when you mailed that manuscript, who you mailed it to, when it was rejected and by who, and when you sent it back out and to who, ect...

I've found a work in progress notebook that you can buy in print or in e-book, that helps keep it all together, and more. (Nope, I don't get a kick back and didn't even know the author of the book until someone explained what the Novel Notebook was. I just found it so helpful that I wanted to share.)

I've pasted the quote below that I gave Jeannie after using her notebook.

I have the e-doc version of Jeannie Ruesch's Novel Notebook. I'm not the kind of person who gives good quotes unless I mean them, so this is my honest opinion. I love the Novel Notebook because it's a complete keep-everything-in-one-place solution for your novel in progress, and even your completed and submitted novel.

Since Jeannie is a fiction writer herself, she thought of everything a writer would need to keep up with, and placed a section for each in this book. There's places to list everything from your working title and date started to the date completed who you submitted the manuscript to and when.

You'll also find plenty of space to fill in things like characters profiles, info on each chapter, sub plots, conflict, setting descriptions, a timeline chart, and more. Like I said, everything a working writer needs to keep up with about her newest baby, all in one place.

The e-doc version is in Word, so it's simple to make a boxed section bigger when you want to add extra info, or to delete and retype things when you make changes in your story. It's also easy to print up, save to CD or a zip drive, or even send to yourself as an attachment that you can save in an e-mail account that's not on your computer, so you won't lose all of that needed information.

Best Wishes and Happy Writing
Charlotte Dillon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Step Four - Or Am I Back to Step One?

Since my last post I've spent my free time digging through publishers' guidelines, as well as my to-be-read pile of books, my keeper-pile of books--and reading some of both.

I thought about them all, about what I liked and why I liked them. Seems not a lot has changed, at least not in the last few years. I still like cowboys, paranormal, and suspense. Paranormal suspense wins over just straight romantic suspense, mostly. When it comes to paranormal and suspense, not all of my favorites are romance books though, but they have some of that romance sparkle in them, if not a good romance in them. They just might not have that happy ever after ending.

In fact, two of my favorites are from authors who have the same characters star in book after book. A series of suspense novels by Jeffery Deaver that star criminalist Lincoln Rhyme and his protégé Amelia Sachs. (If you haven't read the books, you might know them from the one book in these series that was made into a movie, The Bone Collector.) Now these books aren't romance, but the building care, trust and love between Lincoln and Amelia is positively a draw for me, along with the great writing and stories.

The second series is from author Kim Harrison. The main star in these books is the witch Rachel Morgan. This is paranormal in a world of its own, wrote in first person of all things. (And I didn't even think I liked first person, but Kim Harrison's stories made me change my mind.) There's some romance in these books too, but no way are these books romance either. Oh, there's also suspense, since a lot of times you think Rachel is going to bite the big one for sure this time. Smile.

Okay, so I know some about today's market, I know what kind of books bring me the most pleasure to read, but I'm still not sure where I'm going. Seems the more I try to focus on it and force myself to settle on the next step, on centering on just exactly what kind of romance I'm going to write, the larger the knot gets in my stomach and the more I feel a building panic taking hold. I think I scared to death of failing again. Of writing the wrong thing, of starting something I won't finish, of spending more of my time writing something that will never see the light day.

Would you believe even scared of making it, of finishing a book and having it published and knowing they are waiting for a next one and me not being able to pull it off again. My sister always says "fear is bondage".

Maybe it's time I work on some of those ties that bind?

To be continued...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Free Workshop to Help You Get Back to Writing or Keep Writing!

I'm so sorry I didn't think to post this until now. We've had a free workshop, Write Like You Mean It, going on over on the main RWC group for a few days. The person giving it is Avon author Jenna Petersen.

RWC is my free Yahoo Group for romance authors. There's still today and all of tomorrow to take part in the workshop, and the posts that have already come in will stay on the group page so as a member, you can go in and look at the ones you've missed. Jenna really shared some great info that went right along with the problems I've been writing about, and lots more.

RWC is a huge group for romance authors, published or not, who are working at being the best writers they can. It's not a social group, so there are a lot of rules that all members have to follow to keep posts under control and make the group easy to use. Of course I expect members to be respectful to each other, so people can't come in and get away with flames and meanness that I've seen on so many groups. In other words, if you can't follow rules or if you like to fight, or if you want to chit chat, RWC isn't the place for you. But if you are a romance writer who can follow the rules and allow others their own opinions, and you are working at being a writer, then RWC might be just the perfect place for you, and I'd love to have you join us, even if it's just to take part in the end of this workshop.

You can find the link to join the main RWC group and more info about it and its sister groups for critiques and more, all here:

Sorry again for not thinking to post this sooner.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Step Three – The Plan… So Far

If what I’ve tried the last few times hasn’t worked, and I’m going to try something new, what should it be? Is there anything new left to even try?

The most success I had at starting back to writing and sticking to it was when I started something brand new. It was a paranormal suspense. That worked out so well for me. I was back on track and seemed to be doing great.

I think if I hadn’t lost my father, got over that only to get sick and find out I was a diabetic, and just get that under control and begin to feel better when I had to deal with hurricane Katrina, I wouldn’t even be writing this now. I would have finished that story and moved on to the next one, and probably the next, and so on. After all, a great agent had read part of the manuscript and was waiting for the complete, the market was hot for that kind of work at the time; I had already basically outlined two more books to follow the first, a series. There were also characters in there that would have been able to carry books of their own, so I could have done many more than the three I had in mind. I was trucking right along and having a good time doing it. Having a good time is important. If you aren’t enjoying your writing, it’s going to be hard to do and the end result is going to show your struggle. At least for me and I think most others.

Maybe the success I had at that time with sticking to it and enjoying writing again was in the fact that I had started something new. I didn’t have to backtrack or repolish or rehash. It was all new and fresh. But if I start something new again, in a few months will I just end up with another half finished manuscript to add to the other three I haven’t completed? I’m just not sure what to do.

Doing nothing isn’t going to work though.

So, I thought some more, and some more. Finally I decided that I’d have to risk the chance of having another half-finished story. Better a half-finished one than nothing. The thought of doing a rewrite on one of my completes right now just holds no interest for me. I’ve tried to keep working almost daily on that paranormal suspense since I’ve started back, tried to keep the story moving forward, but it’s a push every time I open that file, and I feel like the writing I’m doing isn’t going to be something I’m proud of when I’m done. I really think my pushing is showing through and the writing is suffering, like I mentioned above.

If I’m going to start something brand new though, what should it be? At least I’ve already done that taking inventory part. Maybe it’s time to really ask myself what kind of romance story is calling to me now days, and to do a lot of market research.

To be continued….

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Step Two – More Inventory

Since I’ve gone through the rejections and figured out what I did when, I supposed the next step would be to see just what I’ve got--written that is.

To that end, I went through my computer files and non-computer files and found all of my novel-length romance fiction, completed or not. I listed them under completed, partial, or openings. I realized I had jumped around a bit. In my romance fiction I found short contemporaries, long contemporaries, long western historicals, suspense, paranormal, and even paranormal suspense. Okay, so I need focus. No one can write in that many styles can they?

Yet more inventory. I went to my bookshelves and scanned titles and authors. If I was going to try and focus in on one or two kinds of romance, then maybe seeing what kind I read the most would help me figure out where my heart really was and what manuscript I had that I should turn my full attention to.

Surprise, there was a big mixture in my bookshelves too. But I was looking for a recurring pattern, a majority. I kind of ended up with a four-way tie though, between short and long contemporaries, paranormal, and suspense. Simplified, I came up with contemporaries with or without paranormal and with or without suspense.

What about sexual content? A mixture there two, but at least there seemed to be a clear majority in that area, which was simply the middle ground. I had only a handful of what you would call sweet romances, and less than that of what you would call erotica. Of course that could just be because the middle ground is what’s the most available. So I’ve decided not to put too much weight on that part of my inventory. In fact, I think you could be comfortable or happy reading some types of sexual content that you might not be happy writing. I know some of my work is about as hot as good soaking bath water, while other stuff might nearly boil that water.

With all of that inventory behind me, I went back to my files. I don’t have anything I’d send out without a rewrite. What I’ve been working on since I started back writing is a manuscript that was about halfway done when I stopped writing before. It doesn’t seem to be working for me this time either.

So, should I do some rewrites on the finished manuscripts and get them out there? Should I finish this partial or another one of my particles and get one or more of them out there? I have three particles, each halfway or better done. One is a very old western historical, the other two are long contemporaries, one more of a paranormal and one more of a paranormal suspense.

My mind screamed for me to pick the easiest, which would be to polish one of those completes up. The responsible side of me said to finish the particle I’ve started back to working on. After all, how many times have I told other writers to finish what they start or they’ll end up with a pile of started manuscripts and never complete a single one of them.
The realistic side of me--boy I have a lot of sides--says none of this is, or has, worked for me the last few times I’ve tried to get back into the habit of being a full-time fiction writer.

So, now what? I guess it’s time to find another way to skin a cat.

To be continued….