So I downloaded my manuscript to my new Kindle to read. This was way too exciting for me. I mean, come on. My book is on my Kindle! Which part of that isn’t exciting?

I packed up my lunch and some sunscreen—I burn easily, so this is important—and headed off to the beach to read. It really was cool to just read my manuscript like a book from cover to cover. I wanted to make notes here and there, but I restrained myself. Even though I wrote most of my manuscript by hand (Yes, at the very end I gave in and started writing on the computer. Hmmm…who knew I could write so much faster if I didn’t first hand write then type?), and then put the previous day’s writing on the computer. I did very little editing and no rewriting as I typed. I just got it all into the computer, so it’s a raw rough draft.

The first two chapters moved along just fine, but there are definitely errors and places to expand. The next couple of chapters are better, but the last few chapters finish up the strongest. I knew my characters better and both the story and my writing evolved. And who knows, maybe writing on the computer had something to do with it. (I will deny this at a later date.)

So my husband reads every word that I write as it bleeds from my pen—or begrudgingly now from the computer—and he does make notes on the hard copy for me to use later. I was a little surprised at what neither of us caught. Oh, there were some silly mistakes, like spelling my heroine’s name wrong in several places. But heck, my name is Tari, pronounced like Terri, and I’ve spelled my own name wrong at times. (Don’t ask me how, but it’s true…and I blame my mother. Clearly she didn’t know how to spell it in the first place. She doesn’t like it when I say this. She says she did it on purpose because it was special!)

Anyway, back to my book. There are more than a couple of errors, but the one that made me laugh the hardest was the following scene where the heroine who is petite (Hmmm…did I mention that I’m five foot two?) tries to climb into the hero’s truck:

“She carefully held her skirt in place while she reached into the truck with one hand and put the other hand on the door, trying to lift her weight up into the cab.”

Now when I read this, I think Randi (Did I spell that right? Phew, definitely Randi with an “I”) has to have at least three hands to hold her skirt in place with one, reach into the cab with one and hold the door frame with the other. I don’t know. It just didn’t work for me. I figured I really didn’t need to make a note of that one, I’ll catch it as I rewrite for sure.

So, yesterday I did errands—no writing—but today I’m headed back to my desk with my red pen in hand. I’m ready to strengthen those opening chapters, find those glaring mistakes and add a little more heat to the story.

A note to my mother: I love the way you spelled my name…

A note to my sons: I’m not sure which one of you I should apologize to for their name, my oldest, Gerrod (Jared), and middle son, Jayson (no explanation needed), or the youngest, Joey (Joseph), who was named after his grandfather, so I wanted it to be spelled just as my father-in-law’s name was spelled. I just want you to know that you are all special to me.

Back to work for me, but what about you? Have you found errors in your writing that made you laugh out loud? Anything you’d like to share? Come on. Make me feel better. I know I’m not the only one…am I? (Did I mention that my book is on my Kindle?)

Karina Buchanan

Karina Buchanan

My Name and/or Pen Name:  Karina Buchanan

Blog/web site/twitter: http://karina-buchanan.blogspot.com/, http://karinabuchanan.weebly.com/, @karinabuchanan1

Where I write: I take my netbook (pink, so the rest of the male-dominated household don’t feel the urge to use it!) out to our wee sun room at the back of the house. If I’m feeling particularly lazy, I curl up on the bed with the telly on in the background.

What I write: Contemporary Romance

Worst rejection: I have a box full of them but the worst came after an on-line pitch last year. I was promised feedback, whether or not they picked up my story, but I got another standard “R.” I was crushed. Not least because this was my first full-length manuscript and I had poured my heart and soul into it.

Best rejection: Years ago, I subbed a partial to Harlequin. Looking back now, I can see how dreadful it was but the editor took time to point out the positives in my writing as well as the negatives. It gave me the courage to keep going.

What keeps me writing: I have a burning desire to keep going until I am a successful writer, for myself and my family. My husband thinks it’s his ticket to early retirement!

I am a writer because…it’s all I ever wanted to be. My teachers in school encouraged it; my family put up with it and the voices in my head won’t let me forget it.

***

[We’d like to thank Karina for sharing with us. If you’re an unpublished romance writer (straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

I just returned from web design hell, having spent the last twenty-four hours obsessed with my website.
Let me rewind a bit…

For almost a year now—wait, well over a year?—my url has pointed to a cheesy black and white photo with the message, “Coming soon…” Uh-huh. If soon were say, ALMOST TWO YEARS.

But big plans were in the works during those two years. Because of course I’d be published by now and willing to shell out the cash.

As the days passed and the website sat unchanged, I started downgrading my big plans to the point where they were manageable. I made a few strategic purchases (clip art, custom themes) and tucked the items away.

My plan became, “When I have extra time, I’m going to build my own site.” Uh-huh. Extra time. As in free time. As in time with which I have nothing to do. *Breathless laughter*

The other night, as I drifted off to sleep (under a warm and cozy blanket of rich red wine), a sort-of slogan/motto rolled through my head: Read, Drink & Be Merry! Much like the characters who hound me at night and throughout the following day, I couldn’t let the line go.

I didn’t have extra time, so I made time to work on the website.

Now that the job is done—some little fixes/additions still needed—I’ve had time to reflect on the other side of writing, self-promotion. I’ve heard writers talk about how maintaining sites, blogs and social media accounts takes away from the hours spent writing. I can see how.

I lost an entire day of writing yesterday to work on my “brand,” which seems outrageously wasteful considering I’m not published. And yet, this morning, when I woke up and set my browser toward my new and improved site, I couldn’t help but feel some satisfaction over what I’d built.

Do you have a blog? A website? Did you build it yourself? Hire someone? Enlist Hubby’s help? How much time do you spend on self-promotion? It’s a balance act, isn’t it?

E

Good Morning, everyone! I’m at my desk, ready to begin, and I’m so excited. I’m sitting here with my first finished manuscript ready to start rewrites.

I love everything about writing…

Starting with getting the story on paper. With fiction this is so much different (at least for me) than with non-fiction. When I write an article, I have a topic and usually three main points. I do the research; write the piece; rewrite up until the deadline and wait to get a copy of the publication (and a check).

I love the whole process.

Writing fiction, I’m a pantser—I only recently discovered this—so my first draft also serves as my outline. Every day when I sit down with my pen, I wonder what will happen next in the story. Although occasionally I have an idea of what comes next, for the most part I don’t know until the pen hits the paper.

Last week I finished my first draft, so today I begin the next step. Rewrites. I have some writing friends who hate rewrites. They’ve finished the story and want to go on to the next. I actually love rewriting. This is where I get to go back and really craft the story, tighten things up, fill in any holes, add energy, hopefully give the story a little “magic.” I know my characters better than I did when I began the story. Now I can go back to the beginning armed with new knowledge and hopefully give them more dimensions.

Okay, there is one thing I don’t like about writing, and that’s sitting so much. Really, my behind is getting sore!

So, I’ve downloaded my manuscript to my new Kindle (got my birthday present early and I love it). I’m packing a lunch, and I’m heading to the beach to walk and then to read through my manuscript and make some notes.

What do you love about writing? What do you hate, if anything?

RWA 11: Conference Envy

June 24, 2011

It was bound to happen. The closer we get to this year’s Romance Writers of America conference, the more jealous I become. The tweets about sessions, dresses, shoes, about meeting up for lunch, hanging out in hotel rooms and hitting the town as a group.

*Sigh* But not me. I’ve never been to a conference. The biggest reason? I hate to fly.

Once upon a time I had a very cushy job as a writer for Disney. I worked at home but traveled to Chicago and Los Angeles when business required. And when business required, I was known to use every excuse in the book to avoid getting on those planes.

Now that I’m no longer working for Disney, I don’t have a reason to fly. (Okay, spring training is in Florida every year. That’s a reason to fly. But while my husband flies, if the kids and I go, we drive. Days. And vacation—no matter the distance—we drive that too. Yes, I see how ridiculous that is. Yes, I know how safe air travel is compared to driving countless highway miles. Still, knowing all that doesn’t do a damn thing for my anxiety.)

You might think attending the biggest conference of the year is enough reason for me to fly (or drive—it’s not terribly far), but it’s not because…

I don’t really know anybody. I have these visions of being alone in a big city, scanning conference rooms desperate for a friendly face. More anxiety. (And yes, I know how ridiculous that is, because I know from this blog and twitter how wonderfully welcoming fellow romance writers can be.) I also worry that I’ll say something stupid to an influential person and ruin my career before I’ve even started. (And yes, I’m pretty sure that’s a ridiculous excuse too.)

I told myself that next year if either my CP or Tari goes, then I’m going, but I know Tari’s going—it’s in her neck of the woods, which means a cross-country flight for me. So guess what? I’m not going next year either.

So I pout, and I sit here filled with envy for all the ladies braver than me. (And yes, I know how ridiculous that is, because I created this misery.)

Are you going to RWA 11?

I’m doing a happy dance! It’s been a great week and a half here at the Jewett house. My husband finally got his score on a very important professional test that he took back in April. He scored the highest score out of an estimated 200+ people who took the test. My teenage son got a job at Cold Stone Creamery….yum, and I finished the first draft of my manuscript…ahead of schedule…Yay!

It may seem a little over the top, but I’ve been in a daze since I finished my manuscript on Tuesday afternoon. So much of my time has been spent in the world in my head that it feels a little strange to come out of it. I’ve fluctuated between feelings of intense elation and accomplishment and feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Now that it’s done, I’ll have to put my work out there and risk rejection. Now people are asking me to read it.

I’ve been a published non-fiction writer since I was twenty-one. I’ve said it before—I love writing and will write anything. Any opportunity to write is an opportunity to build my skills, so I’ve written articles, columns, press releases, ad copy, hundreds of resumes, even some local radio and television commercials and a small local cable show. But, of course, I’ve always dreamed of writing fiction…and now I have.

I’m not kidding myself, there’s still a lot of work to do. I’ve started my synopsis, which I hope to finish this weekend, and then there are the re-writes. Unlike some writers, I love re-writes. For me, this is where the real writing begins. The first draft is the place to get all of your ideas organized and on paper, but the re-writes are where you begin to craft your work into something special. The re-writes are where you ruthlessly cut passages that are unnecessary fluff and tighten up your writing, where you find places to add energy and emotion. The re-writes are where you make magic.

My original goal was to finish this manuscript by the end of the summer. Then after attending the Romantic Times Convention I was so motivated that I decided to move the date up and finish by July 9, the day before my 50th birthday. A couple of weeks ago something happened to make me move up that date again, so I’m done ahead of schedule!

Now I plan on finishing this synopsis, beginning re-writes on Monday and as a birthday gift to myself, taking the week of July 10 to take some of the books that have been piling up on my nightstand to the beach and read. Unless I decide I just HAVE to keep working on edits…

So, what are your goals or self-imposed deadlines? What motivates you to reach those goals? What builds your confidence? While I’m sitting here anxiously working on my synopsis—in between spontaneous outbreaks of the happy dance—I wouldn’t mind hearing your motivational stories!

Cherie Nicholls

Cherie Nicholls

Name and/or Pen Name: Cherie Nicholls

Blog/web site/twitter: cherie-ramblingsoapbox.blogspot.com,
thenuthousescribblers.blogspot.com, @cherienicholls

Where I write: I write where I can and when I can. Mostly sitting on the sofa with my trusty old laptop. But as I work full time, not as a writer unfortunately, I don’t get to write as much as I would like. So if I am not at home I will try to write during my lunch break…which is never a good idea!

What I write: Paranormal Romances

Worst rejection: You are assuming that I have been brave enough to send my work to professionals who will then point and laugh at me…

Best rejection: On the plus side I am hoping to submit to an open call for shifter stories soon and I have heard they do really nice rejections…*all about the positive thinking me!*

What keeps me writing: I write because I can see things most non-writers don’t see, not in an “I see dead people” way, I hasten to add. You see, it could be something so simply like a woman drops her umbrella and a passing man stops to pick it up before carrying on with his journey. Now most people would barely pay attention to that, if they saw it at all, but I would see a story—a woman, possibly a shifter, a man definitely a shifter, meeting their life mate and all the fun that would follow as they learnt more about each other from that one simple incident. I think most writers have this or something similar, where a piece of music, an advert or a partially overheard conversation can spark that creativity and a story is born.

Why do I write? How can I not write with all those stories out there waiting to be told!?

I am a writer because…simply if I didn’t tell my character’s story then who would?

***

[We’d like to thank Cherie for sharing with us. If you’re an unpublished romance writer (straight romance or strong romantic elements) who is interested in being profiled, email Elley.]

 Today my microwave gets fixed. In the week that I’ve been microwave-less, I’ve learned a few things:

I can boil water. (Thank you, Tari! Wish you’d been around to save the Mayans.)

I finally got tired of the daily trek to the coffee shop. (Okay, one block is not a trek, but a woman jumped the curb and ran through the pizza shop next store, which certainly made the jaunt feel trekky—made-up word alert—to me.) Once I started boiling water and making tea at home again, I realized…

I’m spoiled. (And we’re not talking microwaved—another made-up word—water here.)

I live a pretty charmed life, but like most people, I forget to be thankful for the good stuff sometimes. Writing fulltime in a silent house is a luxury I took for granted on more than one occasion, most recently until my daughter’s latest “job” put me on a movie set eight hours a day. (I lied. As I’m writing this in the holding room, it’s been nine hours—ended up being a 14-hour day.) I tried writing. I brought my laptop, but the battery died after three hours. I tried reading on my iPhone (forgot my iPad), by the battery died after nine hours. And so I learned Lesson No. 3…

Technology can only get me so far. (Tari, this one’s for you.)

I originally wrote this post with pen and paper. Because when all else fails, the urge to write can’t be controlled. (And next time I’m bringing a paperback book.)

Tomorrow Writer Wednesday is back. I’m going to edit, upload and set the interview to post while I’m once again being the “stage mom” I never wanted to be. Please don’t hold any glitches and typos against me this week. The bottom line is while writing is my dream—and I’d much rather be devoting these hours to finishing my current manuscript—my daughter has a dream too. And while I wouldn’t have picked this particular dream for her (not in a million years, for reasons too many to post here), acting makes her heart sing like writing makes mine sing. How can I fault her for that?

I’m pretty sure she learned the whole follow-your-heart thing from me.

“BEEEEEEP!” Thump. Step, step, clatter. My eyes tried to adjust to read the time on the cable box across from our bed. 2:00 a.m.

I’m not sure if it was the dull beeping or my husband getting up to go to the bathroom that woke me up this morning….doesn’t matter. It was a good thing I did wake up.

I wait out of bed clumsily (At 2 a.m. I’m clumsy. Oh heck, I’m always clumsy.) to look for the source of the dull, annoying beeping sound and suddenly I was wide awake. My computer lights are flashing crazily. I push the button to boot up the system (See, I can kind of sound like I know what I’m talking about.) but nothing happens. I frantically looked around to see what was causing the beeping. It wasn’t my computer. It was the battery backup that I plugged into.

By now my husband returned from the restroom, and being the ultimate alpha male (also read male chauvinist) he put his hands on my arms, moved me out of the way and took over. (This is okay with me. There are times and places when I like him to take over. The computer is one of them.)

“Your book is on the flash drive I bought you for Christmas right?” He pushed buttons and looked at cables.

“Huh?”

Suddenly the beeping stopped and he turned to look at me.

“You DO have your book backed up on the flash drive right?”

I was in full ‘semi-panic’ mode. Semi because I knew that my entire manuscript up to this point had been handwritten, then typed…and printed currently waiting for editing, so I knew nothing has been lost. Full because the thought of having to retype nearly two hundred pages…well, need I go further?

Now keep in mind I tell others to back up their work all of the time. My boys have been told, “Don’t you dare lose your term paper because you didn’t back it up.”

I’ve told friends to make sure they put things on a disk or a flash drive. But I, in my infinite state of denial (fueled by the confidence that my book is both handwritten and typed, so I’d never actually lose the work) and techno-phobia (who knew using a flash drive was so easy) had not backed up my own work.

My poor, injured husband (Of course, it’s his right wrist.) had to be up for work in just a couple of hours, yet he hunted down the power cords for the computer and internet in the dark, and plugged them into wall sockets. He powered up the computer, and it booted up…phew, small sigh of relief….

“Okay, pull it up…” (He means my book.)

I sat in my little chair and pulled up Word, praying–crossing fingers and toes–that my book was still there. It came up slowly, one page at a time…teasing, torturing me, until finally hours later (probably about 15 seconds in real time) all of the pages were there. I almost passed out from all of the excitement.

Now I could go back to sleep.

“Where’s your flash drive?” my hunky husband, who I may have neglected to mention is standing over me in only his briefs, asked.

“Huh?” I knew he was referring to that little pink thingy that he put in my stocking at Christmas and I still don’t know how to use. (By the way, all of my technology is pink: my flash drive, iPod and camera. This way he can prove I’m a girl, the boys won’t touch it–or so he thinks–and I can never pass it down because I only have sons.)

“You mean you don’t know where it is?” He rummaged around in the brown hinged See’s Chocolate Truffle Box that I keep by the computer. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE See’s Chocolate, especially the truffles?) But found it under the computer monitor. (Oh yeah, that’s where I left that thing.)

“Okay, now back up your book…NOW!”

I took the little pink flash drive he was holding out to me and looked at it blankly. (Seriously, he thinks that I who prefer to write my manuscript by hand, resisted cordless phones for years, and only know how to use the on-off, channel and volume buttons on the television remote–they have way too many buttons on that thing–know what to do with this thing?)

“Okay,” he rolled his eyes at me (but I can’t get past the fact that I’m sitting in my little chair, and he’s standing over me in only his underwear.) “Put it into the USB port.”

“Huh?”

“Honey, you’re a smart woman. You can do this.”

I looked around the outside of the monitor for a USB port…or any port.

“Down there.” He pointed to the computer tower in my cabinet.

“Oh.” I got down on my hands and knees on the floor (Did I mention I was in my silky nightgown? Maybe that will make him quit thinking about teaching me technical things, right?)

“Honey, it’s the same port you use when you download the camera.”

“Oh, that’s a port…”

I found it and pushed the flash drive in. I gave up on enticing him to forget about it and sat back on the chair.

“Nice view.” He said, looking down my top. (Now he decides to pay attention.)

He took me step by step through backing up my book, which was surprisingly easy. (I’m sure I’ll never remember what to do again, but luckily I have two sons who are more than willing to help their aging, feeble-minded mother–I have three sons, but the third abandoned me and is living on the other side of the country in Baltimore! Not that I’m trying to guilt him into coming home.)

Anyway, do I ramble…

At nearly 3:00 a.m., I was wide awake. (Whatever shall I do? Oh come on, he’s standing there no shirt, hunky as can be. I’m in my silky nightgown–alright, I lied. I was sleeping in a big T-shirt, but silky nightgown sounded so much better–what do you think I did?)

So anyway, back to work for me. I promise to back up all of my writing (or at least ask a boy to do it). In the meantime, tell me about your technological disasters. What happened? How did you resolve it? And did it involve a handsome nearly nude man? (That’s what I really want to know…)

Tari

(A word from Elley: This post is brought to you by the power of an iPhone. Please don’t hold errors against me. It’s hard to edit and post from a 3-inch screen.)

Lord, I need some green tea.

My new-ish microwave (purchased in February) stopped working after a big storm last week. I called for repair and was told an all-day appointment—meaning I sit and wait for some guy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.—was available for today (which was tomorrow when I called yesterday). Last evening, I got a call saying the all-day appointment wasn’t available. They were booked—all day—and the soonest they could have a technician to my house was June 21.

Crud.

What does this have to do with writing? I need my green tea.

When I write, I drink green tea. (I’d rather drink wine, but the consequences are clear.) I head straight out of bed to the kitchen, snatch an inspirational mug from the cupboard (Nobody touches these mugs but me!) and zap some filtered water in the microwave.

Inspirational Quote Mugs

But I can’t do this now, because my microwave is broken and I don’t own a teapot and apparently I’m too lazy to go buy one. (I’d rather whine about it—or wine about it…now there’s an idea.)

So I sit here and stumble through a tea-less blog entry, wishing June 21 would hurry up and get here already. When I’m done typing this, I’ll throw on some clothes and walk the block to the coffee shop where I’ll buy some substandard organic green tea (Anything less than Tazo Zen green tea is substandard taste to me.) for a ridiculous price. One 16-ounce cup. It won’t even last me through a single chapter.

I’m going to buy a tea pot.

Do you have a writing companion like my green tea? Something that smoothes your edges and keeps you moving forward? I once heard of a writer who chewed through multiple packs of gum a day. (I think my jaw would hurt after a few sticks.) Coffee’s probably popular. Diet soda? I once “met” a couple writers on Twitter who drink whiskey…or is it scotch? Now there’s a question: have you ever written a scene while you were tipsy—or downright drunk? How about that for an experiment? Let’s all drink a little too much, write a scene and share the results. (Just kidding…sort of. I could be persuaded.)

See? I need my green tea. My microwave’s broken, and so is my mind.