Monday, July 30, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 17

For Writing a Novel in 30 Days, Day 17, I wrote 814 words. In between doctor's appointments and testing, I did manage to squeeze in 45 minutes worth of writing.

By Day 17, to be on schedule, I should have written 34,000 words. As of today, I've written 31,347 words and the goal is 52% complete.

Currently, I am 2,653 words behind schedule.

Tomorrow will be a travel day, so I'm not sure how much writing I will be able to do;  however, by Wednesday, I should be on a more realistic writing schedule.

The upcoming Friday and Saturday will be a tad busy, but if I focus on writing in the evening hours, I should be able to get back on schedule, at least by mid-week next week.

So that's the goal, to be back on schedule by mid-week next week.

But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 4

Step 4 of But HOW Do You Write a Book? is short and sweet. For this step, you choose a Title for your work-in-progress or WIP. (Don't you just love those acronyms.)

If we return to our baking a cake comparison or analogy, what can we call or name our cake that best describes the cake for what it is? Let's see, how about Toffee Bar Delight, Death by Chocolate, Mississippi Mud, Luscious Lemon Dream, Spiced Carrot Surprise, Caramel Divine, Strawberry Supreme, Black Forest Cherry, Easy Chocolate Chip, Apricot-Coconut Swirl, etc.?

As you can see, for the most part, the name of the cake lets us know what kind of cake we're getting and what flavorful delights we can expect.

A title of a book serves the same purpose.

For our title selection purposes, the title of the book will be your working title.

As your book evolves,  you may find a better fitting title later on, or if you intend to traditionally publish, I've been told not to "get married to" your title, because your publisher will more than likely change the title to something more to their liking.

Either way, right off, choose the best title that initially reflects the story you want to write. Consider something catchy, that will intrigue the reader and peak interest.

JA Konrath has a knack for choosing titles. He recently wrapped up a series about Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels, in which all of his books are either named after or are related to mixed alcoholic drinks. The titles of his books in the series are Whiskey SourBloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb, Shaken, and Stirred. Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines, and I would highly recommend reading the series. As Jack Kilborn, Mr. Konrath wrote Afraid, Endurance, and Trapped, where each title depicts what the books are essentially about (must reads if you enjoy novels of terror).

Cathy Yardley has a Blaze trilogy, titled The Players Club: Scott, The Players Club: Lincoln, and The Players Club: Finn, which is a series about members of an urban adventure club. Great concept, and, yes, a great series title.

And who can forget Stephen King's Carrie, Cujo, and Misery?

We don't just remember the title of a book just because of what the book was about or the caliber of writing, but because the title relates to what the book is about so precisely and revealingly.

So considering that you have decided what type and kind of cake your going to bake, uh, er, what genre and length of book you're going to write, what story you are sharing, and whose story it is, then your next step is to choose your working title.

Here's how to go about choosing a title:
  1. Check on Amazon and Books a Million and on the internet for titles of books already published in your chosen genre.
  2. Consider are the majority of these titles mostly one-word, two-word, three-word or more-than-three-word titles?
  3. Brainstorm and jot down at least ten (10) possible title options that are not already in use.
  4. Ask yourself the following questions about each of the titles you are considering:
    Does the title characterize, represent, and/or symbolize what your book is about?
    Does it fit the genre and your book?
    Does the title thrill you?
    Is it a title you can get excited about?
  5. Mark off the ones off your list that don't meet the above criteria.
  6. Narrow down your choice to five (5), then three (3), then to one (1).
Now, ask yourself, Do I love it?

If not, make a second list, and go back through the choosing process until you can answer the affirmative.

Once you're successful, then that's your working title.

You have now completed Step 4 of But HOW Do You Write a Book?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 16

Despite travel, I was able to write 850 words today; therefore on Day 16 of my personal Writing a Novel in 30 Days challenge, the overall word count total is 30,533 and the goal is 51% complete.



At the end of day 16, with a goal of averaging 2,000 words per day, I am 1,467 words behind schedule.

While I'd prefer to be ahead in word count, it is reasonable that I will be able to catch up with the daily goal; therefore, although I'm concerned about and frustrated with recurring health issues, I'm moving forward and onward!

Progress Status - Weekly Check-In, 7/29/12

This week's word count has been sparse; however, I'm still writing and have increased the word count by 6,174 words. (While I would have been thrilled to have accomplished this goal while working full-time plus overtime, since writing is now my real full-time job, I must increase production significantly to achieve my publication goals.)

My current First Draft progress, as it stands as of  7/28/12, is as follows: 



Project A, Novella:


Project B, Novel:


Novel in 30 Days (60,000 Words), through Day 16:

But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 3

Step 3 of But HOW Do You Write a Book? addresses the basic question, "Whose story is it?"

Whose story are you sharing? From whose perspective will the story be shared. Through whose eyes will you view what's going on? Whose thoughts and emotions will you convey? Whose actions and movements will you focus on from the inside out?

Will you story be your heroine's (female protagonist's) story? Or your hero's (male protagonist)? Will you share both of their points of view (POV) of the story? What about the villain's or antagonist's? How about all three? Will their be multiple POVs shared, such as the heroine's, hero's, villains, and several victims of the villain? Or will multiple protagonists and villains share their story in the pages of your book?

For But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 3, consider and decide whose story it is.

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 15

As of Day 15, the half-way mark of my Novel in 30 Days attempt, I have written 29,683 words and the goal is 49% complete.

Due to travel/family circumstances, Day 15 was a non-writing day

Oddly, I am okay with the fact that I am now 1% behind on the goal  because the goal is still realistically reachable and attainable.

This evening, I will have some alone time, and I will write. Onward!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Need of Some Destuckification

I'm sure almost everyone has gotten in rush and has gotten stuck while taking off a shirt or blouse. This morning, after setting the clock for 5:00 AM to get up to write, that's where I am writing-wise. Stuck.

While sitting here, focusing on the next scenes before me on both projects (Project A, Novella and Project B, Novel), I contemplate why it is that I'm stuck.

Why am I stuck?

From mulling over my situation of Stuckification, there are two reasons, one for each project, and the reasons aren't too complicated.

For Project A, the Novella, the scene I'm writing contains something pretty bad happening to my heroine, and I can readily see that I'm holding back. I like her. Even though the story and the need for conflict calls for that something bad to happen, I care about her and an reluctant for her, and me as the writer of the scene, to experience the bad.

For Project B, the Novel, I'm winding up this first book in a series. Even though I know I'll begin the next book and will continue with the story and with the same characters, I seem to be holding on to this one. I'm enjoying and loving the story and writing this first book so much, that I don't want to let it go.

Okay, I have the why's worked out, so what can I do to be able to become unstuck or destuck?

To get past being stuck, I'll try the following:
  • For Project A, I'll use a Lightning Draft technique and make a note, [MAKE MORE INTENSE, MAKE WORSE FOR HEROINE], and move on. When I come back to this scene in the second draft, this scene will have to be written. There's not going or getting around it, BUT in order to finish the first draft, I need to continue on.
  • For Project B, immediately after writing the final scenes, I'll use Cathy Yardley's Rock My Plot method and create index cards for the possible scenes for the next book. There will be no pausing or downtime, just a diving straight into the the second book, so that I don't have to leave the story or part with the characters I've grown to care about deeply.
Using these two strategies, if all goes well, I will become destuck, and my forward motion on both projects will continue.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 14

With good intentions and high aspirations, I set the clock for 4:00 AM. After a 9 hour drive yesterday, when the clock went off this morning, nothing doing. It wasn't happening -- no way, no how. I reset the diabolical clock for 6:00 AM. Once I was up and about, talk about being in writing slow motion.

Although a struggle, I did manage to write 784 words, which brings the Day 14 word count to 29,683 words, in other words the goal of writing 60,000 words in 30 days is 49% complete.

The flair of my health issue seems to be subsiding, so my game plan at this point is to write as much as realistically possible while I'm traveling, then drill down and write several 5,000-word days to catch up when I return home.

Thus far, assessing where I am on Day 14, meeting the Novel in 30 Days is still feasible and doable.

Onward!

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 13

Day 13, due to driving for a long road trip, was a non-writing day.

For the 60,000 words in 30 days challenge, I am still 2,899 words ahead in word count. (Total 28,899 words logged or 48% complete.)

Getting up early on Day 14 should keep me on schedule. All is good!

Onward!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 2

But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 2 involves deciding what you want to write about.

Basically, what is the story you want to share?

Most people who've asked me, "But HOW do you write a book?" already have a basic idea of what they want to write; however, at this stage, confirming your writing direction the next step to writing your book.

First off, what's kind and type of book do you want to write (from Step 1)? What's the genre you chose in Step 1? What length of story?

What story do you want to write in that genre and that length?

To gain story ideas, visit photo sites, such as dreamstime.com, pick a picture and consider what story the picture might inspire.

What sort of story do you like to read? Can you imagine a similar, but better story along those lines?

Consider whose story it is. Are the stories in your chosen genre told in first person (I/me) or in third person (he/she)? Are they told in present tense? (I step onto the stair. She steps onto the stair.) OR past tense? (I stepped or he stepped).

The second most frequent question I'm asked is, "Where do you get your story ideas?"

From everywhere. A newspaper article might inspire a story idea or a photograph. From whacky and sometimes disturbing things I observe in real life. My own life's experiences, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Bits of an overheard conversation. Or from a heartbreak I've suffered. Also, really strange ideas tend to creep up on me when I'm driving.

 So, for Step 2, consider what story you want to write.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 12

Day 12 started off better because, thankfully, my energy level, concentration, and focus have improved somewhat.

In the early morning hours, I wrote 2,091 words in two hours. Considering that I've been struggling, I feel better about meeting my goal than I have for the last few days.

As of Day 12 of Writing a Novel in 30 Days, I have written a total of 28,899 words, with the goal being 48% complete.

With eighteen (18) days left of my personal challenge, despite struggling physically, I remain ahead of schedule on meeting the goal of writing 60,000 words in 30 Days.

Onward!

But HOW Do You Write a Book? Step 1

"But HOW do you write a book?"

That's the most frequent question asked of me since I began my Kathy Writes Books blog.

Honestly, there are all kinds of instruction books and how-to books out there. (I've probably owned a copy of most of them, at one time or another.)

I only know what's working for me, but I'm happy to share. What a wonderful thing it would be if my sharing helped someone to find their way a lot faster and more readily than I did.

I've worked hard to find a repeatable process because I want to write multiple books. This works for me, so possibly it might work for others as well. (Please note, individual results may vary.)

Last night, as I was catching up on episodes of Cake Boss, I realized -- wait for it -- that writing is a lot like baking a cake. I finally got what the saying that writing a book is like developing and following your own recipe meant. 

Step 1, Choose the Type and Kind of Book You Want to Write

What type of book do you want to write?

First consider what type of cake you want to bake. Do you want a layer cake or a bundt cake? How does a molten lava, marbled, or Angel food sound? What about a butter cake or cheesecake? Or maybe a brownie-type or fruit-based, or ice-cream cake?

So, what type or length of book do you want to write?

What length of book do you intend to write? Will your book consist of a collection of short stories or an anthology? Will you write a novella? A Novel? Or how about three combined Novelettes? Perhaps an Epic family-saga? (Combinations and collections are mentioned because our focus is on producing a full-length book.)

Here's a general guideline, but please be aware if you are pursuing traditional publication word count guidelines do vary.

Classification (Type) / Word Count
Short Story (~ 1,000 to 7,500 Words)
Novellette (~ 7,500 to 20,000 Words)
Novella (~ 20,000 to 50,000 Words)
Novel (~ 50,000 to 100,000 Words)
Epics and Squeals (~ Over 110,000 Words)
~ = Approximately

It's good to note that most books fall within the Novella or Novel word-count range.

So, choose the the type of book or length of book that you intend to write. 

What kind of book do you want to write?

If you're going to bake and serve a cake, you have to choose and decide what kind or flavor of cake. What about a yellow cake with caramel icing? Or chocolate cake and frosting, with with chunks inside? Perhaps a white shortcake with strawberries? Or how about lemon drizzled with sugar glaze, or spice cake with apple butter and walnut topping? Or maybe carrot and cream cheese?

If you're going to write and publish a book, what kind of book do you intend to write?

Romance? Suspense? What about Horror or Erotica? Perhaps a Thriller? If not fiction per-say, what about a Memoir or humorous Biography, or how about an Autobiographical Novel? Or how about any of the following: Action-Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, Paranormal, Political, Science Fiction, Saga, Suspense, Steampunk, etc. OR perhaps any combination herein, such as a Paranormal Romance, Political Thriller, Action-Adventure Comedy, or Historical Mystery.

Secondly, choose what kind of book (genre) you're going to write. Simple, huh?

(Please note that whatever you personally enjoy and like to read is a great place to start.)

That's it.

For Step 1, answer those two questions, and you've taken your first step toward writing a book!

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 11

Day 11 turned out to be a day of struggle to get my writing going. That pesky health issue reared its ugly head in the last couple of days, but I'm dealing and coping, while still writing.

With my focus and stamina greatly affected, I managed to write only 787 words in my only one-hour stint of the day, which brings the word count total to 26,808 of 60,000 words, thus the goal of writing a Novel in 30 days is 45% complete.

I am still approximately 4,000 words ahead of schedule, and with the hope that my health improves soon, I continue on!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning

After taking a non-writing day on Sunday, I had a difficult time getting back into the groove of writing on Monday morning, so I was basically, so to speak, spinning my wheels.

After an off-and-on all-day struggle, I only managed to write a little over 1,600 words; therefore, when I had to take a package to a shipping drop-off today, I considered a change of pace and scenary might serve as inspiration.

So, here I am, sitting in a bookstore cafe, listening to a fellow patron talk to someone in detail on his cellphone about a song he heard on the radio and quoting butchered lyrics, and a woman discuss with the young lady behind the counter their dieting habits, while the slice of Godiva chocolate cheescake I just ordered sits before me.

I thought this would be a good way to jump-start my writing for the week, but that is SO not happening.

The woman and lady are now discussing bug bites and noseeums. I quote, "You know, the kind that bite you, and you never see them."

Why, I wonder, is that this slice of cheesecake is becoming less and less appealing?

Okay, the high-volume conversation has moved on to bee stings and snake bites, which includes details of punctures, swelling, nausea, etc.

My first bite of the cheesecake tasted okay, not great, but fairly good. The second forkful, not so much. I swallow.

After wishing the young lady a good day, the woman heads into the bookstore, with a stout floral perfume and stale-cigarette scented fragrance wafting along behind her.

I place my fork in and push the paper plate containing the cheesecake to the center of the table.

Ah, yes, quiet. Fingers on Neo's keyboard. Deep breath.

"Chop, chop," a second lady, sitting at a nearby table says, and begins a conversation with someone on the cellphone who's obviously not doing what she expects them to be doing.

Sigh.

I focus on tuning her out. I can do this.

A young man who works at the store approaches my table and asks, "How are you today?"

"Fine."

"Is that one of those Alphasmarts?"

"Yes, it's a Neo."

"Great battery life, but I really like my iPad. Well, you have a nice day."

"Thank you. You too."

Some things, I think, are not meant to be.

I guess because of the writerly aspect of me, I can't NOT pay attention to what's going on around me. I enjoy people watching and observing and interacting, really I do. Just not while I'm writing, please.

So, lesson learned: While the writer in me tags along everywhere I go, I just may not be able to write wherever I go.

After running an errand or two, I'm looking forward to heading home and WRITING, and, along the way, if I've discovered the cure to the Spinning Wheel Syndrome, I'll be sure to let you know!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 10

Day 10 of Writing a Novel in 30 Days was an off day for me. I felt like I was spinning my wheels; therefore, today, I only wrote, with difficulty, 1,662 words.

My word output toward a 30-day 60,000 word goal is, thankfully, still ahead of schedule. The 10-day total is 26,021 words and the goal is 43% complete.

11 Cents Per Copy - Really?

In May 2012, author Ann Voss Peterson guest posted on JA (Joe) Konrath's A Newbies Guide to Publishing Blog. Her post, titled Harelquin Fail, revealed that she earned 11 cents of a $4.50 cover price, so in other words, she earned 2.4% per every copy sold.

Simple math tells us that the book, if sold at $4.50 cover price at the time of release, would have earned Harlequin approximately $805,756.60, while Ms. Peterson earned $20,375.22 (as of the blog post's date).

So, out of close to a million dollars in sales, Ann Voss Peterson earned a little over $20,000.00, and SHE's the one that wrote the book? Hmm.

Something seemed so not right and really off about this, and even more so, now that a class action suit has been brought against Harlequin (please see Joe Konrath's Harlequin Fail Part 2).

I'm no lawyer, however my understanding of Joe's post is that Harlequin sub-licensed e-book rights to a Harlequin-owned company for low rates, thus resulting in Harlequin maintaining a majority of sales earned, via the combined earnings of their other company and their own e-book sales agreement, while paying authors a ridiculously low percentage for sales.

Since I read Ms. Peterson's initial post, I've asked myself, "Would I, could I, hand my books over to someone else to produce and sell them for 11 Cents per copy?"

As badly as I wanted to be published and in the time-frame her book was initially released, you betcha! As long as I remember, I've wanted to write books for publication, so I'm sure that back then I would have signed that contract, swallowing that triple-barbed hook deep, and more likely, as I tried to sling the hook out about now, would be gasping for air and bleeding profusely from the gills (if I had them, of course).

Now, today, with the surge of Independent Publishing and E-Book Self-Publishing possibilities, "No way in Hades, ma'am."

JA Konrath and others have paved the way. For the last three years, while working way too much overtime, I've read and researched what has worked for them and what to do, and in a few cases, what NOT to do (an entirely different blog post for another day).

Will I get it "right," right away? Doubtful.

Building a backlist of books to publish will take quite some time, but eventually, right or not, I'm determined to get it, without assistant from an epic-fail publisher like Harlequin.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 9

Today is a non-writing day.

I looked at my overall progress status and have determined that the goal of writing 60,000 words (equal to a novel) in 30 days is 41% complete.
As of Day 9, I am 6,359 words ahead of schedule.

Barring any unforeseen glitches, I should finish writing a 60,000-word First Draft either on or ahead of schedule. (Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy Writer Dance!!!! Okay, I have NO rhythm, but at least it looks like dancing. Er, maybe not.)

Progress Status - Weekly Check-In


In addition to being a great pre-writing jump-start, the Kathy Writes Books Blog has been a phenomenal form of accountability for me.

Pre-posting goals and then sharing the progress has worked well for me by serving as a check-in so that I feel accountable for where I stand and what I might have or have not accomplished.

The blog postings are also assisting with finding balance, for example, today is a non-writing day, and I'm taking time out to assess my goals for next week.

So, without further delay, my current First Draft progress, as it stands today, is as follows: 

Project A, Novella:


Project B, Novel:


Novel in 30 Days (60,000 Words), through Day 8:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 8

Day 8 of Writing a Novel in 30 Days resulted in my writing 5,145 words today. (A 5,000-word day. Whoot!)

That brings my word count to 24,359 words out of a 60,000-word goal, which means in 8 days the goal is 41% complete.

Since I'm several thousand words ahead of schedule and in the name of balance, I'm designating tomorrow as a non-writing day. Onward!

Taking Time to Write

In the past few weeks, I have transitioned from writing in 30 to 45 minute stints throughout the day, to writing in 1-hour blocks of time.

Over the years, I attempted to write in 15 or 20 minute blocks, but seemed to be spinning my wheels, because in that short of time, I couldn't seem to get my head as deep into the story as I needed, no matter how hard I tried.

This morning, instead of spreading the blocks of time throughout the day, I set the timer for 3 hours and wrote straight through. I wrote 3,340 words in those three consecutive hours, which equals what I've been producing by spacing out the time blocks I set aside for writing.

Mornings are difficult for me -- I am so not a morning person -- but with effort, I have turned them into more productive times of the day.

My goal is to either wrap up my writing for the day after writing in the mornings or set writing aside while I take care of other to-do lists around the home, on the property, out and about, etc., then return to writing in the evenings. I'd like to visit those 5,000-word days on a regular basis, and this seems to be the way to get there.

One thing that has seemed to make a great deal of difference in my writing output is that instead of fitting writing in once everything else is done, which never really seemed to happen, I set aside specific committed blocks of time to write. In other words, instead of making time, I'm taking time to write.

Got to go, the clock's a ticking!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 7

One week ago, I started a personal 60,000 words in a month writing challenge.

Today, I wrote 2,063 words in 2 hours.

One week in, I have 19,214 words written and my goal of writing the First Draft of a Novel in 30 Days is 32% complete.

When Fear Steps Out of the Shadows - More Woo-Woo Stuff

I'm close to finishing Project B, my novel. (There are five to ten scenes left to be written. Five for sure to the ending of the book, then a few more scenes to be written once I go back and review the earlier scene layout and order.)

Sure, I'm excited. Thrilled. (I can hear the anticipation of those "Whoots" gearing up in my imagination.)

I've written a book before. Years ago, and it took me years upon years to write it. I had been editing the book, but set it aside to finish two current projects, which I think have stronger and broader reader appeal.

As I'm nearing the end of the book, in addition to feeling positive , I notice a panicky kind of fear building and spreading inside me.

Previously, I blogged about Talking to da Fear. That process helped me to deal with my uncertainties and to work with my fear, because like it or not those fear are a part of me, and dive into writing.

On The Fluent Self blog,  Havi Brooks shares information to be used when "you need some destuckification." Havi's post, You don't have to face your fear. Really. has worked well for me.

So, here goes, using Havi's technique, is early morning conversation with my fear.

Kathy's Fear: Now, look what you've done! The book is almost finished.

Kathy: Yes. That's something to be happy about, but you sound panicked and worried. It's difficult for me to focus when I feel so jittery and restless and scared inside.

I realize you're here to protect me, and even if I ignore you or try to bury you or chase you away, I know you'll return. You're here, for now because I'm allowing you to be, so let's talk about why you're here and what important things you have to to tell me.

Fear: Don't patronize me. If you finish the book, and even that's a big IF, you know it's not going to be good enough.

Kathy: It's a first draft, so there's still lots of work to be done.

Fear: How could you make yourself a target like that? Why would you make yourself vulnerable to criticism and judgement and ridicule.

Kathy: Wow, I can see you're really worked up. You really care about me because you are trying to protect me and shelter me.

Fear: You're such a private person, how could you leave part of you on the page like that?

Kathy: Every writer reveals or leaves a part of his or herself in their writing. That's what writers do, no matter what sort of characters they write about.

Fear: I want to keep you safe. I'm trying to save you from yourself, from keeping you from making a fool out of yourself.

Kathy: I understand and I appreciate that. How about I promise to have my writing edited and reviewed, and try not to look foolish on purpose. 

Fear: That doesn't mean you won't. BUT maybe those things will help.

Kathy: I appreciate you, and try not to appear too foolish and hope that you can express yourself in ways that aren't so discomforting or harmful to me our my goals.

Fear: Okay. Fine. I'm creeping back into the shadows now. It's way past time for my nap.

I highly recommend Havi Brook's Tools, such as her Emergency Calming Techniques, The Procrastination Dissolve-o-Matic, and Monster Manual and Coloring Book.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 6

For a target of writing 60,000 words in a month, on Day 6, I wrote 3,085 words.

My word count is 17,151 words; therefore, on Day 6, my goal of writing a 60,000-word Novel in 30 Days is 29% complete.

Onward!

Lightning Drafting

Short on time? Feel like if you don't get that book out of your head or your head is going to pop? [Please note, Lightning Drafting has a downside in that extensive revision is required and is no longer a recommended process.]

While I've been Fast Drafting, I learned from Cathy Yardley's Savvy Author's Course, Writing Your Lightning Draft with Cathy Yardley, that there is an even faster way to draft.

While Lightning Drafting, you flat out get the book out.

If loves scenes slow you down you type in your text, [INSERT LOVE SCENE HERE], then keep on going.

You don't edit, you don't slow down, and you don't let research, more challenging scenes, etc., hinder your speed.

For research, you make a note in the text, such as [RESEARCH POISON DOSAGES], and continue on.

If you decide to make a change to something earlier on, you insert something like [CHANGE PARTNER TO FEMALE COP], then from here on out, he's a she. Later, when the first draft is out, you go back and expand and fill-in during your second draft. 

Cathy Yardley has an upcoming Lightning Draft course this fall, starting September 3rd and running through December 3. In the class, you get the benefit of her Rock Your Plot experience, as well.

Here's the Savvy Author course description: 

In three months, Cathy Yardley can help you plot and write a novel… and give you the tools you need to repeat the process.

If you want to be a full time writer, especially in today’s publishing climate, you’re going to find that productivity is crucial. “More books” equals “more sales” as both traditional and indie publishing learn that new books boost the numbers of previous ones.

If you want to increase your productivity (and teach your muse to show up when you do) this course will help you: 
  1. Set up for writing a “lightning” draft: build a foundation for your characters and make sure your plot points are in good shape before diving into the draft. 
  2.  Learn to create a “container” of space, time and attitude to ensure you’re writing at a regular rate, and creating a support network to ensure you keep you on target. 
  3. Get the motivation you need to keep going as well as guidance to help you get through the “stuck” parts.
  4. Identify and negotiate any fears or self-sabotage that crop up, as well as identifying your writing process.
 In three months, you’ll have the rough draft of a genre novel completed and ready to revise.

After years of struggling to get books out, I would highly recommend this route. So, if your considering getting a book out, Lightning Drafting might just be the way to go! [After lightning drafting an entire series, I have concluded that getting the book out, with a stronger draft, is MUCH more preferred. Otherwise time-intensive revision is required. Thus, I cannot recommend lightning drafting.]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 5

Day 5's word count total is 3,328 words in 3 hours.

In five (5) Days, I have written 14,066 words toward a goal of writing 60,000 words in 30 days. Currently, I am 4,066 words ahead of schedule.

A health issue or two have cropped up; therefore, no 5,000 word days of late, but I'm still writing and producing daily, so I'm one happy writer.

As of today, 5 days into Writing a Novel in 30 days, the goal is 23% complete.

Writing Buddies, Critique Partners, and Accountability Partners

Stormy
Pictured here is one of my writing buddies. He sits on the chair arm and presses against my arm and shoulder while I write.

Like most writing buddies, he doesn't care what I write, how I write, or how much I write, as long he can keep me company WHILE I write. I have several writing buddies in addition to this fine fellow, some writers and some non-writers, that stay in touch and encourage me along the way.

Critique Partners, now they're a different breed. They, hopefully kindly and professionally, assist by critiquing my writing once a book goes into second draft. My current Critique Partners are two of the sharpest, most intuitive writers I know, and I'm honored we're sharing our critiquing journey. (I've experienced some not so pleasant unpleasantness when interacting with former Critique Partners in the past, thus I appreciate these wonderfully talented and upfront folks all the more.)

Accountability Partners assist with accountability. You each share your current word, page, scene, etc. goals, then set a check-in time. Lots of Whoots and Way-to-Go's are given out when one of us meets our goal, while no judgement is made when we don't. We coordinate a Wednesday and a Sunday check-in, and when one of us is struggling, we might ask:
  • "What could you differently next week?"
  • "Have you considered a more reasonable quota, then building slowly on that?"
  • "What happened? Do we need to change our check in date to better fit your schedule."
  • "Have you tried this or that?"
  • "Is there anything I can do?
All three, once I learned to be discerning and set boundaries, have been pleasant additions to my writing life. Which reminds me, I best be getting back to writing. Check-in time is fast approaching.

Making Adjustments

In keeping track of productive times throughout the day, it came as no surprise to me that mornings are not my most productive times.

This morning I realized that mornings being the least productive does not mean I cannot work at increasing my productivity during that time of day.

So, today, I made an adjustment. I wrote first thing after I got up. No turning on the computer, no stopping until the timer had gone off.

Guess what? I wrote the same number of words in an hour as I am able to write in the afternoon.

I may be mentally sluggish and more than a little slow on the uptake in the mornings; however, that doesn't mean I am not able to increase my productivity.

So, this morning, I make an adjustment to my schedule and write.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 4

I wrote 3,601 words on Day 4 of my Writing a Novel in 30 Days personal challenge.

In 10.5 hours over 4 days, my total is 10,770 words toward a goal of 60,000 words. (With a daily goal of 2,000 words per day for 30 days, I am 2,770 words ahead of schedule.)

As of today, my goal of writing 60,000 words in 30 days is 18% complete. Onward!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 3

Today, I wrote 2,608 words in 2.5 hours.

Our puppy has been away at doggy training boarding school for the past month, and he came home today.

In honor of balance, I puppy-proofed the house during the morning, wrote early- to mid-afternoon in short sprints, and then spent time with the puppy and Hubby late afternoon and evening.

As of Day 3 of the Novel in 30 Days challenge, I have completed a total of 7,137 words and have first drafted 12% of 60,000 words.

Thus far, finishing a Novel in a Month is on target!

Onward!

Morning, Noon, and Night - Not So Much

I'm not a morning person, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that when I started paying attention to when and where I write that mornings are my least productive times.

In an attempt to find what works best for me, I've been tracking how many words I write when and where.

The majority of what I write during the day is written after 12:00 PM. Before noon, I have been averaging 700 words or less. From 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM seems to be the daily sweet spot where I get my writerly juices flowing.

When I think of all those years of trying to get up two hours before work and to make myself write first thing in the morning because I had been told that was the RIGHT way to write, I cringe.

For right now, morning is not a productive writing time for me, so starting today, my focus will be to write in the afternoons and evenings, during the hours in which I am most productive.

While mornings may be the most productive part of the day for some writers, for me, not so much.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 2

Day 2 of my Novel in 30 Days challenge brought, well, challenges.

Today I wrote slower, more detailed scenes. (You know, those scenes that sometimes take more time and focus to write.) I really had to drill down and concentrate on Making a Scene, or two, or three.

On Day 2, I wrote 2,498 words and my first draft is now 8% complete.

Making a Scene

While Fast Drafting, I am reminded that some scenes require greater focus and more time to write.

For some writers, it's fight scenes, where the confrontational and oppositional movement of characters must be choreographed in their minds and translated to words.

For others, it may be love scenes or sensual scenes, which must not sound clinical or clunky and have to be relatable to the reader.

Deeply emotional scenes present similar challenges because in order to describe the emotions, a writer must feel or at least relate intently to the characters emotions, then show how the character feels, rather than tell what the character is experiencing.

Today, I am working on several of these slow-going, intense scenes.

Every few minutes, I close my eyes, imagine the scene taking place, see it, feel it, experience it, then type. In order to get the scene down in detail, I write in short bursts, then go back to the scene in my head again. It's slow going, but I'm getting there.

Wouldn't it be awesome if there were a device like in Stephen King's The Tommyknockers, where you attach a device to your typewriter (now a days a keyboard) and the device translates and types the book directly from your brain onto the page?

Until that day, I'll keep on writing, fingers on the keyboard, striving to make a scene.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days - Day 1

60,000 words written in 30 days will result in a completed first draft of a book in a month.

Simple math tells me that to finish a novel in 30 days, I must average 2,000 words per day for 60 days.

Day 1, the 1st day of my quest, I wrote 2,031 words. (In finding balance, I took a break from writing and enjoyed a live-performance at a local theater of Gypsy with Hubby. (Dinner, a play, and good company!)

Please note that I have 60,000 words remaining of Project A (novella) and Project B (novel) combined; therefore, once I finish the 60,000 word goal, I will have finished the full equivalent of a book, yet will have actually completed two projects.

Day 1 of Writing a Novel in 30 Days is on target!

3% Complete.

Onward!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Writing a Novel in 30 Days

I’m a gal who like’s challenges, so I asked myself, “Self, can you write a novel in 30 days or less?”

My answer to was (We writer’s do talk to ourselves. I usually claim I’m rehearsing dialog aloud, but...), “Yes. Once you get your health issues in line, maybe even less. But for now, why not shoot for 30 days?"

Many folks that participate in National Novel Writing Month, which officially occurs in November (a busy, busy time in my former job), crank out 50,000 words in a month.

So could I possibly accomplish such a feat?

I live in the south. The oppressive heat precludes doing much of anything outdoors in the summer months. So, I say, “Why not!” (Self wholeheartedly agrees!)

Could I? Can I? Will I?  Write a Novel in 30 days?

While working, I averaged writing 2,000 or so words per week, which was the best I could do what with staying so busy, busy.

Since I’ve been able to dive into Fast Drafting, while struggling with some health issues, I’ve written 2,000 words on more difficult days and over 5,000 words on good days. Since health issues are a reality for me right now, I have to factor in that I am in the process of getting more healthy; however, I’m not quite there yet. (Soon, soon, soon, I hope!)

Starting July 14, 2012, this gal is committed to writing a novel in 30 days.

This goal is a win-win for me. If I can not surpass my health issues, I may have to bump my 30-day goal up to the end of the summer — yet, in the mean time, I will still have produced lots and lots of words. AND if I do write a novel in 30 days, what an accomplishment! (No rewarding myself with Italian chocolate. Darn.)

So, here I begin my quest of writing a book in a month. Onward!

Friday the 13th - Superstitious Much?

What if someone is ultra superstitious?

Wouldn't that person avoid stepping on cracks, walking under ladders, and crossing the paths of black cats? Does this person have a mental disorder (think Monk)? Has this person been raised to believe in superstitions? Does he or she behave any differently than if this were a mental disorder?

What if a family lives in a large house and turns on every light, inside and out, at twilight? Is the house actually a pretentious monstrosity or is someone who lives there deathly afraid of the dark? Does the family want to make sure that everyone sees who they are and what they possess or does one of the people who lives there sleep by night-light and have a flashlight tucked under their pillow?

What if someone believed the fortunes they received in their fortune cookies actually came true? Would he or she eat Chinese for lunch and dinner seven days a week? Or would they go once of month, to make their fortune especially fortuitous?

What would you do in situations like the ones above? What do you believe about superstition? What motives that belief, and how does that belief and motivation affect your actions and your behavior?

As a writer, my primary questions are: 1) What if? and 2) What would my CHARACTERS do?

It's Friday the 13th. I'm off to play "what if" with my characters. I wonder, are they superstitious much?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Slogging Through Mud

Yesterday, was . . . . I guess the best way to describe yesterday is PAINFUL.

Another migraine-type headache threw me off schedule.

The good thing is I'm pretty sure that I have discovered what's been triggering the headaches, so I hopefully won't do that to myself again any time soon.

My morning writing started off sluggish. I tried focusing on writing and other tasks, but a tightness at the back of my skull and around my forehead kept me from focusing on stringing together words. Physically, I couldn't seem to get comfortable in any sitting position. Writing-wise, my eyes kept getting more and more sensitive to light throughout the day.

By late afternoon, a headache settled in toward the front of my skull and around my temples.

Getting anything accomplish was like slogging through mud. No firm, smooth ground to tread upon.

Dark room. Quiet. VERY LITTLE WRITING. (Somehow, I did manage to write 2,000 or so words.)

Today, I avoid the trigger.

Today, I write.

Learning to give myself a break and not beating myself up when something can't be helped--that is one of those aspects of the balancing act that is life.

Onward!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fast Drafting - Pedal to the Metal

For the last few days, I have been Fast Drafting. I sit down and type as many words or pages as possible in a set amount of time, to get the book out of my head and onto the page.

This morning, I just realized (okay, I know I'm sometimes slow on the uptake), that at 5,000 words per day, I could realistically finish a 70,000 novel IN TWO WEEKS! (I wonder if I actually could? 2 weeks for a first draft. I do love a challenge.)

The Free Dictionary states that Pedal to the Metal means "to make something go forward or increase as fast as possible" and gives and example of "Ingrid put the pedal to the metal and finished writing her essay a day early."

So, for me, Fast Drafting means:
  • No Internet
  • No phone
  • No re-reading
  • No editing
In addition to the boundaries above, I've found that what works for me is:
When I started fast drafting, I wrote 400 words or so an hour (which is about the best I was able to manage while working full-time). In putting Fast Drafting into practice, my word count has increased to 1,000 words an hour. (Something I never thought possible because of my plodding writing ways!)

If you will excuse me now, I'm going to go put the pedal to the medal, and hopefully word by word, get these books out of my head and onto the page!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding Balance

14,000 words within a three day period - Whoot and whew!

Previously, my job involved working quite a bit of overtime. Don't get me wrong. I loved my job, the company that employed me, and my fellow co-workers. It was an awesome experience and one I very much appreciate. This job taught me the self-discipline to be able to repeatedly produce 5,000 word days.

In working that much overtime, the one thing I never managed was balance. I fueled my diet with Italian chocolate and high-calorie smoothies, thus with sitting in front of the computer so much, I packed on the pounds. My husband did the majority of the grocery shopping because his hours were more flexible, and he's much better at it than I am (thankfully). I failed to take time out to exercise and rarely took time out for fun stuff. My choice -- no regrets -- and I'm very grateful for the work experience.

However, now that I'm writing full-time, I'm focusing on creating and maintaining balance in all aspects of my life. Finding and maintaining balance has never been an easy process for me (see above), so just as transitioning to writing full-time is a challenge, so is balancing my life.

Later this week, I will reach a weight loss milestone. Due to the heat and mosquitoes, I'm not able to walk outside, but I hop on the elliptical for about 10 minutes in between writing stints throughout the day. Hubby and I have been cooking healthy meals. (And, of course there's an occasional chocolate bar, we just no longer keep a supply of them in the house.)

In the next few weeks, my goals for achieving balance include:
  • Napping or relaxing and focusing on deep breathing
  • Taking time out to watch my favorite TV shows or a movie
  • Going fishing when the heat allows
  • Enjoying girl's days out
Today, I took a day away from writing. It was a day of errands, grocery shopping, appointments, and companionship with Hubby.

As of today, July 10, 2012:
  • Project A (Novella) is 32% complete.
  • Project B (Novel) is 53% complete.
Tomorrow, I go back to writing, rested and refreshed, searching for balance along the way.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Milestone - 5,000 Word Day

When I was told, "Give yourself permission to write crap for your first draft," I knew what that meant.

But exactly HOW do you: 1) give yourself permission to write crap, and 2) let go of control/perfectionism/critical thinking in order to to write crap and fast draft.

JUST DO IT! - Nope, telling myself that didn't cut it. My inner control freak, said, "No Way. No How."

Laying Out Index Cards and having a direction was the first step.

Tracking My Progress as to when and where might be the best times and location for me to write was the second.

The third, has been Managing My Fears and Anxiety on a daily basis, when I first sit down first thing in the morning to write. (Writing blog posts for this Kathy Writes Books blog has helped greatly with that!)

I have two projects in the works, a 40,000 word novella and a 60,000 word novel. (I've found what works for me, to keep me fresh on both books, is to alternate days.)

Yesterday, I wrote close to 4,000 words on Project A. Today, I wrote just over 5,000 words on Project B. (I'm averaging 1,000 words per hour in 45-minute to 1-hour writing stints spaced out throughout the day.)

This is a journey, one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page, one day at a time. I very much appreciate all the support and shared enthusiasm I am being blessed with each and every day. Thank you so much for allowing me to share my milestones and adventures with you along the way.

Help! Help! Let Me Out of Here! - Getting the Book Out

Polly Darton
In another lifetime -- well, it was such a long time ago, it feels as if it were a lifetime -- I performed as a professional ventriloquist. (What fun that was! Something I may just pursue again some day!)

One of the routines, which most likely would be frowned upon and/or considered traumatic to the children of today, was having the ventriloquist dummy (yes, they're perfectly fine with being called that) in a suitcase, yelling to get out. "Help! Help! Let me out of here!"

The children of yesteryear thought this was hilarious and roared with laughter. (Ah, those were the days! Nothing like the sound of children's giggles and laughs to warm your heart.)

But just like the little wooden dummy wanting out of the box, when you have a book inside you that is struggling to get out, that story idea, those characters stay with you UNTIL you get the book out of your head.

How do we as writer's get the book out of hour heads and onto the page, via longhand, computer, NEO, etc.?

Over the years, one thing I've learned is that there is no ONE right answer to this question.

For some folks pursuing the spiritual route may be the way to go. Getting in touch with that author or writer within with meditation and techniques along the lines of self-hypnosis could be a perfect fit.

Others may flourish using writer's boot camp methods, with each day blocked out, planned, and set out to finish a book within a certain period of time.

There are those writer's that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE timers. Set that timer, and you write until time is up. (Such as 30 minute to 1 hour writing stints paced out throughout the day.)

Then there's the page count brigade. You write so many pages per day, five or six days per week.

Word Counting works for some, say a goal of 1,000 words a day (which if you wrote every day for a year would equal 365,000 words).

Goal setting which entails how much you will write per day, per week, per month, per quarter, per year might be an option.

Then there's the spreadsheet, character sketch, outline, form-filling crowd (known as plotters) as opposed to those that dive in and just write, write, write without pre-planning (pantsers).

From experience, I've learned that it's good to commit to a process and give it a realistic try; however, staying with a process that doesn't work, thinking it's YOU that's not getting it, just because someone tells you or promises you this is THE way, isn't the direction to go.

Beating myself up and struggling to make something work for me that obviously wasn't working cost me years of effort and results.

Flexibility and open-mindedness would have worked more in my favor.

My advice:
  • Experiment
  • Commit to a process for a reasonable period of time
  • Move on if a process doesn't work for you
  • Try different processes
  • Pick and choose aspects of multiple processes that work for you
  • Ask questions of those who have discovered their process
  • Seek assistance in finding your way (Courses, Workshops, Coaching, etc.)
  • Choose a process that works for you
  • Commit to getting the book out of your head
Without a commitment or plan, I doubt I will ever get these books out of my head, and they will be echoing, "Let me out of here!" inside my head for the rest of my life.

Good luck on your journey in finding and utilizing the process that works for YOU!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Learning the Writing Craft, Savvy?
(Savvy Authors, that is)

Savvy Authors is about writers helping other writers, and is website where writers can learn and hone their writing craft.

From one-week to multiple-week long courses on plotting, characterization, active voice, world building, etc. to three-, six-, or 12-month mentorship courses on planning, fast drafting, and editing, Savvy Author's presents an opportunity to receive guidance from those writers who have been there, done that.

Best Selling Author Lori Wilde presents workshops there, as well as Cathy Yardley and other authors and editors throughout the year.

Savvy Author's courses and workshops have been helpful and skill-building for me and have taught me a lot about the writing craft.

Basic membership is free, with the Premium Membership being $30 per year, and with the Premium Membership, you get discounts on the classes you take. The membership is well worth the cost, and the interaction with and the learning experience via Savvy Authors is priceless, savvy?