Need an Editor? Need Two? Check Out Wicked Dragon Solutions #editing #editors #WickedDragon

If you’ve been following me for the last month, you’ll remember how my corporate road came to an abrupt end last month. While it may not sound like something to celebrate, it did provide me an opportunity to strike on and blaze my own professional trail. I’m not one to sit around, so I partnered up with my co-conspirator, Amber Kallyn, and we began planning our latest adventure.

On April 1st (no, not an April Fool’s joke), we will be opening our virtual doors to our writer friends and ushering them inside Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions, where you can get two editing beasts for one smoking price! 
WD JPEG

 

Between Amber and I, we have 13 hard-won years of word crafting experience, not just in published work, but in editing for other authors. While we’ve been doing this without gathering our fees, we decided it was time to put our pens to work for us. We know how vital editors are to Creators of the Written Word, and what’s better than one editor? How about two editors putting their eyes to the jewlers loop to examine your precious treasure, and you’ll only be out the gold for the price of one. Think of it as an Editorial BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free).

Feel free to come on over and check us over at Wicked Dragon Writer Solutions (www.wickeddragonsolutions.com)! Doors officially open April 1st, but if you’re anxious to start your epic journey, feel free to reach out to wickeddragonsolutions@gmail.com and we’ll get you set for your editing adventure.

 

What’s your Pink Elephant? #writing #writingtells

????????????????????????????????????????

Are you scratching your head yet? Good. In a recent discuss with my fellow writing geeks, it was brought to my attention that I have a unique tell in my writing. If I submitted a story, so long as this was part of it, they would go, “Ah-ha! This is Jami’s piece.”  Further ribbing discussion revealed I wasn’t the only one with this little habit. Oh no, we managed to pinpoint a unique fingerprint in each story. I have decided to name this phenomena, the Pink Elephant.

The Pink Elephant can be a person, place or thing, or even phrase. (Yes, I realize this is not a game of Charades). Mine can be traced back to my obsession with HGTV and the Property Brothers. You see, in every book, someone, somewhere owns a *drumroll please* Flat screen TV. Not some measly little thirty two inch either. Oh no, we go for the gusto. It’s always a “large” flat screen TV. Because being able to see the on screen action from any room is a must.

When this was first pointed out, I came back with, “No I don’t.” because my inner five year old just couldn’t believe it. Sure enough, it was proven time and time again. And because the competitive curious spirit moved me, I  discovered my fellow word slinger tended to express his love of all things related to the big, shiny, red apple, in his stories by peppering  i this and i that with flagrant abandon.

Hmmm, coincidence? Perhaps but let’s move on to our next contestant…why lookie here, her love of all things plush has created Pink Elephants of overstuffed couches. No room is complete without the luxury of being able to sink into a couch cushion. Her characters tooshies must be supported by many layers of fluffiness. Uh…

And our find contender, what was her Pink Elephant? It wasn’t hard to identify, not at all. Right before her heroine headed off to face down the big baddies of the world, she’d ensure to fuel up first with a nice homemade meal. Feeling a little discouraged you couldn’t fight off that soul sucking demon without losing a sidekick? Have a nice cupcake, it’ll make you feel better. Still hungry? There’s a nice hand tossed salad in the fridge, help yourself while I get rid of this pesky ghost.

Now that you, too, can identify Pink Elephants, what’s yours?

 

When Characters Have Had Enough #writing #storyarc #writingtips

Between a rock and a hard place.

I’m finishing up TOUCHED BY FATE before sending it off to be polished and prettied for consumption, and as this is my sixth book, you would think I’d know better than to try to force my characters to do what I want, right?

*sigh* Okay, so I’m a slow learner.

I’ve mentioned I’m not much of an outliner, which is mostly true. I use signposts, big, obvious ones that state “They shall walk in on a bloody corpse here” or “They must be ambushed here”. So what happens when my characters don’t agree with my signposts? When they decide to redesign it in their own, personal graffiti?

Stubborn writer meet even more pig headed characters. *sound of boulders colliding*

I had the last third of the story figured, main points at least. I even started this book saying the seer will see her death at the hands of her lover. I shall never again presume to know what my characters will or will not see/do/say.  Risia took issue with this, and when I didn’t listen, she decided to make me listen.

First, the story kept stalling. The scenes weren’t working. It was too stilted, too contrived, and I was getting downright pissed. I finally had time to dedicate to pounding out some serious word count and THE WORDS WOULDN’T COME. What the hell is up with that? Then, she kept twisting things around until I was sure she’d see her death at my hands.

I slammed around, throwing things at both Risia and Tag, determined to get them where I needed them to be. Risia smirked, and Tag kept ducking while muttering, “WTF?”  When my temper tantrum died down, I realized a new player had hit the pages, with his own agenda, and his own way of ensuring he got what he wanted.

And my idea of one of the bigger stumbling blocks for Tag and Risia, shifted under all of our feet, turning over to show a different outcome. Funny thing, suddenly the remaining path of our story readjusted into a clear road, and I’m able to gun the gas without puttering to a stop.

So what happened? Somewhere along the writing line I forgot to stay true to letting my characters tell the story, versus making them fit the story. Our job as the writer, is to ensure we throw our characters into situations where they will either rise and shine, or go down in a flaming ball of glory, because their evolution is vital to our story. There is no getting around that. If your characters don’t evolve, if they don’t take chances or risks, they can’t fail, can’t triumph, can’t learn, can’t grow. Which means they might as well be Flat Stanley’s.

For Tag and Risia’s story, I needed to put Risia in an unenviable position, you know the one, the fabled Rock and Hard Place. By doing this in a natural way that rises from her current situation versus creating an artificial one, she ends up dragging Tag into his own Rock and Hard Place. Now, they have to figure out their escape routes–whether individually or in tandem, that’s where your story gets interesting. Which is why you really should let your character led. They know what it will take to push them over the edge or drop them into the deepest pit, and they know what they need to do, to become who they must.

 

And Tag and Risia, well, they may not like me right now, but I know the destination will be worth the ride.

Unexpected Changes May Lead to Daring Choices #change #writing

Risk

Be careful what you wish for.  We’ve all heard it, and most of us can probably point out numerous occasions where this well polished adage proved true. After a very tumultuous (hey, I’m a writer, I like my descriptive words) end to 2014, I had considered my obstacle strewn path fairly safe to proceed forward. Last week, a big, ol’ giant boulder plummeted right smack in front of me. The stomach dropping words of “workforce reduction” left me choking in the dust.

Eighteen years with the same organization. Thirty years of never, not having a job (yes, I realize what a huge blessing that is), and suddenly I find myself–unemployed. It’s a very strange feeling, similar to the free fall fear when I step out to do something really scary.

After the initial shock wore off (three hours later), my need to keep things safe for me and mine kicked in. No time for administering chocolate first aid. Healthcare was switched, bills were re-evaluated and reduced where possible, and unemployment was filed.  Day two, up before dawn, get the Prankster Duo out the door and on their way, get the Knight off to battle his dragons, and then I scampered into my office and spent the morning revamping my resume and cover letter, reaching out to old colleagues and scouring the job boards.

Resumes sent, I came up for air in the afternoon, took a breath and realized I could spend the next few hours catching up on word count. Done. By evening of day two, my mental chaos was settling and plans were in initial stages.

I know the Big Man Upstairs doesn’t do things without good reason, and I’m trusting Him to help me forge my path here. When I finally let myself deal with what had happened, I cycled through the anger at the way my organization handled things, admitting that this is how the current corporate environment works, and logically understanding what has happened to cause this reaction. While my stomach churned at this sudden change, there was also a weird sense of relief.

For the last couple of years, my writing has become more and more important to me. However, I had a job that pays the bills, I was contributing to my family’s financial security and helping Knight shoulder the responsibility of our family. To suddenly shift that to him and give myself permission to dare reach for a “dream” wasn’t something I could comfortably do without risking my job.

Obviously, someone was listening and decided to nudge me (rather abruptly) out of my rut of comfortable safety. Now, as hard as this circumstance change may sound, I have to admit, the timing was the best we could hope for. Between the severance package and the fact our family had been preparing for the worse for the last six months, I actually have some breathing room to reach out and see if I can make what makes me happy, support my family.

Now, I know you’re all thinking, “You’re going to write full time.” Um, well yeah, but that’s not it. I’ve always written, that won’t change, but I need something else to take place of the job-that-pays-the-bills. So I’m going to keep this stomach churning edge and I’m going to start something else that I will allow me to make what I love, my career. I’m stepping into editing.

Scary as this is to strike out on my own with no safety net, I’m not doing this alone. Remember that whole thing about timing? Seems I’m not the only one at a crossroads. My partner in crime and I are in the initial stages, but since we complement each other in our editing styles, we’re going to offer writers 2 editors for the price of 1. The business plan is in the initial stages and we’ve set a deadline for expected results, which means the next few weeks will be quite hectic.

However, because I recognize the risks, I’m still out there submitting resumes and exploring other job opportunities. While I understand the nerve wracking journey I’m about to begin, I’m also not one to put all my eggs in one basket. However, I’m trusting the Big Guy to know more than me, and I’ll wander through this door and see what it brings. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on what happens next.  

What’s the Real Story? #writing #writers

Story

Normally I don’t share much about my Prankster Duo, namely because they believe its equivalent to sharing naked baby in the sink (or on the rug) pictures. Yet, this particular happening had me thinking about what writing really means to me.

Here’s the background:  One of my friends is mom to one of their friends. This young man matches the Prankster Duo in their love all things electronic. But where mine find their artistic outlet in audio/visual for one, and mechanical design for the other, their friend finds his in writing.

His mom, knowing I write, asked if I would take the time to talk to him.

Um, sure? I know all about being a teenage writer, but I was a girl, and well, teenage boys are still a strange creature to me (and I have two). But writing recognizes no boundaries, so yes, I could share some writing tips.

Actually, she persisted, do you mind sharing with him why you write?

Okay, that’s pretty personal, but she’s my friend and her son is a sweetie, so I’m sure I can manage it. Of course, considering her question, I had to ask, Why?

Beacuse he feels maybe something is wrong with him, because he made the mistake of sharing something he wrote with a friend who told him he was weird.

Okay, but writers are weird, it’s why we write people. So yeah, I can let him know he’s not alone out there. So the next time the boyos were hanging out, I invited him and his mom to my writer cave. First I had to figure out where he was in the process (900 pages of world building/character development/possible story arcs).

*blinking* Ooookkkaaay. *deep breath* Instead of diving into do you know who your characters are? What story are you trying to tell? What are they facing that’s so interesting that you have to share this story? I decided to change tactics.

Do you know what a story bible is? (Nope). Let me show you. So began a show and tell of how to organize your worlds/characters/story arcs into a cohesive whole with an acutal story bible I created before Scrivner stepped into my life. Then I showed him all the magic that is Scrivner.

We chatted about story development, character motivation, I shared a couple of workbooks so he could get it coralled. Then, I decided to broach the real concern behind his mom’s intentions. So, you’re friends think your stories are weird. (Uncomfortable shrug, and a mumbled explaniation that’s it just what’s in his head).

I wanted to hug him, but that would cause a major embarrassment meltdown. Instead, I shrugged back. “You know what, those stories, they’re yours. You tell them the way you see them in your head and don’t you worry about what anyone is going to think about you. Here’s the thing, every writer uses their stories to explore aspects of things they’re feeling/dealing with. It doesn’t mean, that the murder mystery writer is out there plotting someone’s death, but they will delve into what true rage may make a the average joe do. I do dark urban fantasy. My characters aren’t skipping through roses and riding unicorns. Generally they’re the ones hunting the unicorns. My characters are not smiles and sunlight. No one is always smiles and sunlight.”

By this point, he’s actually paying attention, no signs of his previous embarassment. So I kept going.

“The story in your head is real to you because you’re trying to explore something you’re feeling and to do that you’ve created a character who can do that safely. In the end, when your story is done, maybe you’ll have figured out what was tweaking at you. It doesn’t make you weird, it just means you’re a writer.”

He smiled, reilef visble to both his mom and me.

Afterwards, my own words stuck around. Wish someone had shared the same thing with me when I was younger.

I started writing at twelve when I moved in with my mom and dad after escaping a sexually/physically abusive situation. My mom handed me a journal telling me it was somewhere I could keep what was running through me head in. So I did. In those pages I would spill all my darkest thoughts, purging them onto paper, while in reality I had to learn not to be a people pleaser, to fight for my own wants/needs and not back down. On printed paper, I raged, I fought, I won. Each and every time.

None of my stories had normal, happy characters. Each had something they were struggling with–circumstances, emotional pitfalls, something. It took awhile for me to accept that these stories were mine to share because in the end, my character rage, fight and win. Every time.

And that’s why I write.

Dai’s Dark Valentine Swings by for a little love… #newreads #pnr

Everyone welcome the talented, Dariel Raye, as she brings along her wild, magical tale of historical love with Dai’s Dark Valentine… 

Don’t forget to join in her Rafflecopter Giveaway
Dais Dark Valentine Cover3

“Dai’s Dark Valentine” by Dariel Raye

Blurb

What happens when a sheltered cat-shifter and a dark fey come together?

Three-hundred years is a long time, but left to its own devices, what began as the vendetta of one man can grow to encompass even more formidable hatred.

Daitre Salons is a beautiful but naïve heiress whose true heritage has been kept secret even from her. Now, her abilities are emerging and her father’s enemies want her dead, but what bothers her most is that her new husband “in name only” insists on treating her like a child.

Joban Beaucoup, professional guard to the Salons family, and dark fey (alternate spelling from Vodouin origin), has chosen to leave the quaint yet suffocating French town of his orphan-childhood and venture to the Americas, but he needs one thing he cannot concoct, despite his magical abilities – a wife.

When Joban agrees to marry Daitre and take her to the Americas with him, he carries her three-thousand miles away, then whisks her three-hundred years into the future to assure her safety, but while Daitre struggles to adjust to this strange new world, manage her newfound powers, and make peace with her feelings for Joban, Joban learns that even here, their enemies have followed them, now more deadly than ever.

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Excerpt

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. – Present

Daitre instinctively wrapped her arms around Joban’s neck, wonder overshadowing every other thought and emotion.

Before she could blink, he slid her arms from him and took a step back. She blinked again and glanced around, the environment too strange for comprehension. What seemed like millions of images flashed around her synapses at once.

She closed her eyes again and did her best to ignore the rocks in her stomach, but the feeling of rejection would not go away. She’d over-stepped. He made it clear he did not want to be touched. Apparently he’d meant what he said about their marriage being a union in name only, and God alone knew where he’d brought her.

The magical orb resurfaced in her mind and she watched Joban in awe. She’d always known he was a time bender, and he’d even flashed her from one place to another before, but his particular species of fey were so rare, she’d never met another, and no matter what she thought she knew, experiencing the phenomenon was no less overwhelming and amazing.

Everything seemed to happen in a flash, glimpses of familiar and unfamiliar things slowly registering as the light faded. Joban told her they were in The Americas, the United States of America to be exact, three-hundred years in the future, the twenty-first century, and he began showing her odd clothing.

“Things are very different here and now, Daitre. You will need to adjust as fast as possible. I got these for you after your father told me your size. They will take some getting used to, but dressing is much easier in this century, I imagine.”

“What part of America are we in?”

“We are in a place called New Orleans, Louisiana. I should have family here, and so should you.” He waved across his left hand and a picture appeared.

“This is a map of the United States. We are here,” he said, pointing to the bottom tip of Louisiana.

Daitre frowned.

“What is it, Princess?”

She placed her hands on her hips and folded her arms. “The picture in your hand. That’s something else I did not know you could do.”

“And why does this trouble you?”

She waved him away, the frown morphing into a scowl as she raised her voice. “I do not know. You are all I have, yet I know nothing about you for certain. I find it very troubling.”

He sighed, but otherwise said nothing.

Daitre fingered her gown and glanced warily at the pants, dresses, and other garments he’d purchased. All of her beautiful things were left behind – gowns, jewels, everything left in Monsieur Beaucoup’s carriage.

She wrapped her arms around her midsection. “No.”

“’No,’ what?” His ominous tone did nothing to help the situation.

“No, I will not wear those. They are the garments of a harlot, and all of my things have been left in another place and time.”

 

About the AuthorDariel Raye profile

Dariel Raye writes powerful IR/MC (Interracial/Multi-cultural) paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy with alpha male heroes to die for, and strong heroines with hearts worth winning. Her stories tell of shifters, vamps, angels, demons, and fey (the Vodouin variety).

For more about Dariel, follow her blog or website. She also publishes a new release newsletter and daily newspaper. You can contact her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Stay with us for the entire launch tour. Click the link below to join the Facebook party and view the tour calendar!

Facebook Party

“Dai’s Dark Valentine” Launch Tour Calendar

Would Any Other Name Really Smell As Sweet? #titles #writers

Red-Rose-03

Good ol’ Billy Shakespeare lamented, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Yeah, Billy Boy, I have to disagree. Names are important, like REALLY important when you’re a writer.  Even more so, when you’re about to name your prodigy in printed form.

Writers will generally agree on some of their most dispised aspects of story crafting:

The synopsis

The blurb

The 25 word tag (or 125 or anything less than the 300+ pages they’ve already written)

The outline

But coming up with that perfect title? Does it just arrive in a chorus of angelic “ahhhs” surrounded by a soft, beautiful light so blinding in its brillance?

Can’t speak for the rest of you out there, but for me–I so wish.

Only once did a title come before I started a book, Shadow’s Soul. Not sure why, it just snapped into place. The rest? Yeah, they haven’t come quietly.

I’m in the midst of PSY-IV book 2 which follows Tag and Risia. I’ve known they’d be the second story since the first time Cyn snickered at Tag about his reaction to Risia in HUNTED BY THE PAST, but its title? Well, I think it was touring the rain forests of Borneo.

Titles are important. You don’t want it to get lost among all the others. You want it to stand out and lure innocent readers into exploring its pages. You don’t want to get confused with another story with the same name. If its part of a series, there’s a naming convention to follow so the series is easily recognizable. And you have to ensure it’s attraction level stays high without boring-so no long worded titles, you have, what? .3 seconds to snag a reader? If you’re title’s too long, you’ve lost them and they’re moving to the next book on the shelf.

So many things go into such a small part of your story. It can make a writer cry.

I’m not sure what other writers do in this situation but I will sit down and try to juggle one word descriptors about the main story concepts like I’m trying to crack a safe. I make lists of possibly titles, let it stew, go out and see how many hits each combination will pull up in bookstores.  That list will grow, get abused and battered, and simmer for weeks.  Then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the title will finally step forward (probably because the others, tired of being punished for its reticence have pushed it forward). And, viola, I have a title.

I’ve been down this road many times, so PSY-IV book 2’s title has been simmering for months…like before I sent HUNTED BY THE PAST off for edits. And just recently it finally clicked–the key concepts of the story, the naming convention for the series, into a title. And because I’ve survived another bout with titling, I give you the second installment of the PSY-IV Teams: Touched By Fate.

 

Balancing on the Marketing Wire for Writers #marketing #writing

IMG_2379

With five books under my belt (four in print, the fifth currently in eformat, with print scheduled in May 2015), learning the ins and outs of marketing as a writer has been hit or miss for four years. It hasn’t been an easy road by any stretch of the imagination (and I’ve got a wild one). I’ve interacted with a number of authors, both those just stepping into the arena and those who’ve managed to survive numerous rounds, and despite all the conversations out there on what marketing should be for a writer, what actually works, is the same thing that works when you sit down to craft a story—the solution is uniquely yours, crafted by you, for you, and works for you.

When you first start writing, you believe your biggest obstacle is just finishing the story. Then it’s getting it published. Once you’re published, you’re set, right? Um, no, not anymore, if that was ever the case. Once you actually sign that contract, then the work really begins. Now, not only do you need to produce another story, but you have to get your current one out there, shoving it in front of the right audience, making sure people stop and pick it up, maybe even take it home. And how do you do this?

I’m an introvert by nature (and dare I say, so are most writers since we all live in our heads?). So the idea of actually *gasp* talking to people about my books just abouts set loose the ravages of a panic attack. Knowing this before I even signed my name on any dotted line, I donned the armor of a pen name. (Of course since my actual last name can never, EVER be spelled right, kind of contributed to that decision as well). This gave me a buffer between me and me, the writer. With a minor in theater, it’s not hard to step into the Writer role when I have a name to go with it.

With Jami firmly in placed, I stepped into the marketing ring. I had no idea there were so many options, but I tried many of them:

Website?  Check  Twitter?  Check  Facebook? Check…now hold on, a page to interact personally and an Author Page? Um, okay, check, check

Pinterest? Yep.  Google+? Yep. Amazon Author page? Yep. Goodreads? Yep.

Blog hops?  Massively checked for years 1-3

Interviews? Yep, did those whereever I could, not just web, but radio, magazines, you name it, I tried it. And then I turned it around in 2013 and each month I interviewed some really well known authors. And may I say, they were so awesome to take time to come visit with me.

Paid advertising? All over the damn place, every electronic ‘zine dedicated to readers, I was handing over my credit card number. Books lists? Tried those.  Monthly ads? Yearly ads? Parties? Yep, all of those

Actually promo materials–bookmarks, banners, postcards, gift baskets, giftcards, calendars? Oh yeah, for every blog hop, you had an equal opprotunity for giving away print copies, e-copies, or giftcards. I used that. Donations? Auctions? Yep did those as well.

Conferences? Did a couple small ones, then jumped into the big pool at RT last year, complete with book signing adventure as well.

Contests? Yep, but I try to pick with care on those.

Utilizing local libraries? Yep, do that.

And you know what? I couldn’t tell you what works, because I haven’t found the right combination yet. Depressing, uh? It’s hard to take, but I wouldn’t trade the learning expierence either.

Now, it’s 2015 and since I just paid off RT 2014 and my life has altered drastically in the last few months, conferences are not happening for me this year (while I’ve got fingers crossed for one in 2016), I’ve had to re-evaluate where I should place my time and money.  Like most writers, I have bills to pay, a family to feed, and, even more demanding, a day job. Most writers have these–family, school, work, life, and because writing is our passion and art, money isn’t coming in by the truckloads. Not the first year, sometimes not even in year five. So what do you do? Do you give up and say, “Well, I can’t quit my day job, so I guess I’m done”?

Not if this is what you have to do. For me, story telling feeds my creative soul. If I starve it, everything and everyone around me suffers. But the one thing that’s always stuck with me, was something Bob Mayer (and many others) have said about being a sucessful writer–write more stories.

My decision by way of marketing for this year are pretty simple:

1. Focus on what will eventually sell me, two more books. Ensure I’m upping my craft with each novel. Challenge myself to take stories to the unexpected, or focus on characters I’d shy away from.

2. Keep my time on social media to a set amount each day.  For now, I share interesting articles and tidbits. Otherwise, I’ve got my weekly blog.

3. Be very picky in who and where I choose to advertise. Will it reach my audience?

4. And this year, most of my money will go to redesigning my website.

Who knows, maybe I’ll dive back into the social media storm now and then, but for now, my readers deserve well crafted stories, and who am I to argue?

 

 

Time…sweet, sweet, time… #writinglife #writing

We’ve officially survived the first month of a new year. Everyone make it through? All limbs attached? *two arms-check, two legs-check, head-little wobbly, brain—-brain? BRAIN? Great we have a runner!*

We’ve settled nicely into the new shack. Enough so that I’m finding it easier to write at home, rather than ditching the males and heading to a coffee shop. It’s keeping my caffeine spending down, which is a plus. Of course, my coffee maker is working overtime.

Shadow’s Curse, the fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles, is now out and ready to be taken home. Just be careful, Natasha can be a bit…um…difficult, even if Darius is trying to keep tabs on what she’s up to.

I’m happy to share that the second book in the PSY-IV Series is well underway. I even gave my ever patient editors a *gulp* deadline. Word counts are being pounded out, almost daily, and the struggle to keep the job that pays the bills to a low 45 hour week, seems to be working.

Of course to accomplish that feat, I had to put my foot down. Especially since directly after the holidays my work week spiked to 60 hours. Part of it was I had this very nifty, very complex report I was creating from scratch. Not just the data, but how to represent it, and Excel and I are not besties. However, after weeks of slugging through COUNTIF formulas and repeatedly telling my sons, “You know how I said you won’t use Algebra later? Um, yeah, I lied. Go do your homework!”, the report emerged in all its beautiful splendor to many accolades. And I was only a little battered and bruised.

You think it would be easy to set some boundaries between your professional and personal lives. Well, unless you’re like me. I’ve been holding a job since I was fourteen (twelve if we start with paid babysitting) and the work ethic I had drilled into my psyche meant you did your job in such a way you exceeded expectations. I don’t think back in the semi-stone ages, anyone had a clue how we’d be electronically linked to our jobs 24/7, 365. Maybe then the ethic would be “Do your job, then unplug”. Now, it’s more common clock out, be home with family, only to have to answer the email/phone call that interrupts family time or personal quiet me time after seven.

That’s not an easy thing to break. Even harder when your position used to be done by more than one person, and now it’s all you.

Now toss in something, like say, writing, and boy howdy you better watch out. Writing, even though it’s a joy, it still requires a dedicated time commitment. One you have to carve out of an already limited clock. I’ve had many people ask how I get two 300 plus page books written a year, hold a job, and my family. And more importantly, why do it in the first place?

My answer: Because for all the sacrifices, I love writing. I sit my ass in a chair five nights a week while my boys (hubby and sons) venture off into their virtual worlds on epic journeys and I create my own adventures. For roughly two hours. I won’t let myself read a book or watch any of my favorite shows until I have pounded out my words. I’d love nothing more than to curl up and read for hours on end after work, but it’s just not going to happen. Not if I want to tell the stories in my head. I make myself stick to my schedule, get two books into my two editors each year so I can release one Kyn book and one PSY-IV book each year. If I do well and time it right, I manage to get a month off in-between. Then it’s all about the stuff I’ve put off or the shows crowding my DVR. Much like others will go train for that marathon, or play with a band on their weekend nights, I write.

So how do you all do it? Are you creatures of routine or have you found the magic formula that let’s you do it all?

Writing outside the plot box… #writingtips

We’ve all heard the term, “Think outside the box”, what about writing outside the plot box?

Here’s the thing, there’s a sense of safety by staying within the structure of a pre-determined plot. You’ve done your pre-writing work, you have your characters, their motivations, their history, you’ve got your first third, second third, and last third of your plot set, you know where the darkest moment exists, and how your protag triumphs and grows. You are now ready to rock this story…

Until the unthinkable happens…the story goes off the rails.

Wails of agony and gnashing of teeth ensues. You may even toss the computer you so loved a few weeks/months earlier out the nearest window, uncaring of the replacement costs. How dare your story do this! The path was clear, this was NOT SUPPOSE TO HAPPEN.

Now what is the poor, beleaguered  writer to do?

Go with it, follow those rails and see where they lead. You might discover the shiny rock you thought was the diamond, is nothing but cubic zirconia.  The real story diamond was hiding down on the left, just past the avalanche of sub-plots and hidden character motivations. That teasing sparkle, that’s the one that’s going to take your story to a new level, and maybe, just maybe take the writer along with it. That one niggling thing that wasn’t quite working, it now all makes sense. That gnarly knot keeping things murky and hollow, you’ve found that one move that lays it out in a beautiful complex pattern.

One of the best things about being a writer, is finding these hidden traps in your own writing. The journey to escape them adds layers to your writing, and who can complain about a story with unexpected depths?

*whispering behind my hand* I don’t think any of your readers will.

Viva imagination, honor those unexpected paths and let your characters led you, you might like what’s at the end.