Wordless Wednesday: Holidays at My House

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The holidays at my house look a lot like this…calm, serene…quiet. But if you look closer…

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Loki’s a little intense.
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Willow’s trying to get a good view of god knows what since there’s a curtain over that window.
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Kitsune’s just confused.
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Morrighan would like everyone to leave her the hell alone so she can take a nap in her happy place.

And me? I’d just like the tree to stay upright.

Be sure to check the other bloggers’ posts to see what the holidays look like at their house.

Jess  *  Paige  *  Gwen

Top 10: Gifts for Writers

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As usual, these are in no particular order, because why change now? Also, as a gift recipient, I think you’ll find I’m pretty easy to please.

10.) Books! Booooooooooooooooooooooooks!

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9.) Cool journals.

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8.) A new iPad with a keyboard case.

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7.) Washi tape! For important bullet journal needs.

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6.) A personal chef. Because I hate cooking. And it would leave me more time to watch Poldark write.

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5.) A self-cleaning house.

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4.) A head and neck massage. I really, really need one of these.

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3.) This bracelet from Etsy. I covet it. A lot.

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2.) Time. Glorious uninterrupted time.

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1.) Aidan Turner. I promise I’d take really good care of him. I’d feed him and make sure he got lots of exercise.

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Be sure to check the other bloggers’ posts to see what’s on their gift idea list.

Jess  *  Paige  *  Kris  * Gwen

 

Flash Fiction #71 – Place Setting

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Hayley fussed with the place settings for the the forty-seventh time.

“Oh my god, would you quit obsessing, already!”

She startled, and I tried to soften my words by wrapping my arms around her from behind and pressing a kiss to the back of her neck. She quit fussing with the  ribbon and lifted her hands to rest on my forearm where it rested across her chest.

“I’m sorry. I just want it to be perfect.”

I kissed her again. “There’s no such thing as perfect.”

She sighed. “I know. I guess I keep hoping that one of these days, they’ll realize I’m not the antiChrist.”

The only way that day would come is if she turned into a straight white male–preferably with a job in finance or real estate. No bisexual, mixed race social workers need apply.

I hugged her tighter,  and she snorted.

“What?”

She shook her head. I was just thinking that would take a Christmas miracle.”

Out in the driveway, car doors slammed followed by muffled yelling. Hayley and I both drifted to the window.

“He didn’t…” I muttered, watching my younger brother trying to corral an apparently drunk woman in a skirt shorter than I’ve ever seen.  As she slipped on the icy sidewalk and my brother caught her, she flashed her bare ass at my parents.

“He didn’t what?” Hayley asked. “And who the hell is that with Nate?”

The expression of horrified loathing on my mother’s face was too much, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Seriously, Vanessa, who is she?”

“Last time I talked to Nate, he said that his hot math tutor was a theatre major, and he was going to try to hire her to play the worst girlfriend in existence.”

Hayley’s mouth dropped open. “He did not.”

“Of course he, did. He adores you. I think he’s hoping this will help our parents will come around, too.”

I watched as the love of my life blinked back tears then pressed a kiss to my lips. “You and Nate and whoever that chick is are all the Christmas miracle I need.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other stories, too. 

Jess  *  Siobhan  *  Kris

A Genie Grants Me Three Wishes for My Writing Career–What Are They?

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Okay, so…three writing career wishes…what would I wish for…

  1. To make enough off my writing to support myself and my family–some bestsellers would be great.
  2. To have time to write all of the stories I want to tell and to tell them to the very best of my ability.
  3. To have multiple annual writing retreats all over the world so I could hang with all of my friends and continue to grow as an author.

What three wishes would you want a genie to grant you?

And be sure to check out Jess and Gwen‘s wish list, too!

Monthly Goals Check-In: November 2017

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Okay, so this last month, I said, I’d…

  • Finish all of my scheduled blog posts. Yep
  • Write and practice my presentation on POV for the November GRRWG meeting. Yep
  • Finish the guest blog posts I agreed to. Yep
  • Finish my part of the holiday project. Nope
  • Finish the two very, very late Christmas presents. Nope
  • Finish sewing at least four holiday gifts. Nope
  • Continue the holiday shopping. Yep
  • Complete scheduled audio preps. Yep
  • Complete scheduled client edits. Yep
  • Finish building the last client website. Nope
  • Continue rewrites of re-release books. Yep
  • Read three more books. Yep
  • Sort the bedding and purge my clothes if I don’t finish that this month. Nope

This month I prepped 7 books and edited 2.  And I *gasp* took a last weekend off to go see my niece and nephew and their play. And I still have time to turn those nopes to yeps.

Okay, so for next month, I want to

  • Finish my part of the holiday project.
  • Finish scheduled audio preps
  • Finish scheduled client edits
  • Finish scheduled blog posts
  • Continue rewrites of re-release books
  • Progress on new WIP
  • Finish holiday shopping
  • Finish holiday sewing and knitting gifts
  • Finish client website
  • Sort the bedding and purge my clothes if I don’t finish that this month.

That’s it for me this month. Be sure to check out Gwen and Jess‘ goals, and good luck meeting all of yours!

I’m Thankful For…

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I’m thankful for a lot of things, so let’s get to it.

I’m thankful I don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner (other than fancy green bean casserole). Because I really hate to cook (but green bean casserole is easy). And tasty. But I do get to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Which is great because I like to eat.

I’m thankful for my amazing family–both immediate and extended. These are the most amazing, hilarious, loving and supportive people on the planet.  And despite our wild differences, we’re incredibly close and I love them so much.

I’m thankful for my friends–my family of the heart. I’m so lucky to have these amazing people in my life. Without their love, encouragement, creativity, silliness, support, acceptance, understanding, honesty, strength, and therapy I wouldn’t be the mostly functioning person I’m attempting to be.

I’m especially thankful for my husband and kids. They’re the pieces of my heart that live outside my body. Sometimes, they’re lucky to continue living… *strangle strangle strangle* but I wouldn’t trade any of them – even when they drive me nuts.

I’m also thankful to have cats. They’re warm and cuddly little assholes. But I love them. And they make me laugh. Even if they do run away with my knitting needles.

And finally, I’m thankful to and for every person who reads this blog whether it’s the super rando flash fic, the stock photo rants, or the personal milestones and fuckery of life–whatever you’re here for, I’m thankful for you. And I’m thankful to all of you who read my books, too. I appreciate that more than I can adequately express. It’s a gift to be able to do what I love best, and I’m so incredibly grateful.

I’m sending you all love and hugs and wishes for contentment and happiness. Be sure to check out Jess and Gwen’s blogs and see what they’re thankful for.

Promptly Penned: Safer–Not Safe

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Prompt: “No, I said we were safer, not safe.”

“We should be safer up here. Did you make sure all the doors and windows are locked?”

Mark nodded. “I covered all of the windows, too.”

“Good.” Rowan pushed her hair off her face and wiped the sweat from her forehead with her forearm as she eyed the sun sinking lower on the horizon through the tiny space between the curtain panels. She had no idea how long they’d be able to stay here, but a cabin on a mostly deserted seemed way better than taking their chances with a town full of zombies. Especially a zombie high school homecoming parade. She’d be picking cheerleader out of the grill of her truck for weeks. “If you want to try to get some rest, I’ll take the first watch.”

She continued to stare out the window but startled when Mark settled his hands at her hips and startled nuzzling her neck.

She slapped at his hands and twisted away from him. “What the fuck is the matter with you?!”

“What? You said we were safe. I thought we could both use a little adrenalin-release. ”

“No, you asshole. I said we were safer–not safe.” Rowan wiped at her neck. “And besides that, we broke up three years ago. The only reason I even picked you up was because that trumpet player was about to eat your face.”

Mark just stared at her.

“Seriously, touch me again, and I’ll dump you right back on main street in the middle of the percussion section.”

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to read Jess‘ post, too!.

Top 10: Things I Believe to Be True

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Regardless of reality or science, these are just random things I believe to be true, And yes, I will defend them to my last breath. As always, there’s no order to these.

10.) Skynet is only slightly less terrifying than our current social and political climate.

9.) Long flowy hippie skirts are the world’s most comfortable clothes.

8.) Crocheting is a form of dark sorcery.

7.)  I have the best friends and family on the planet.

6.) Van Halen is the worst musical act of all time.

5.)  Math is tangible evidence of evil.

4.) Fuck is the most useful and versatile word in the English language.

3.)  Good lip balm is necessary for me to live a content and productive life.

2.) Spiders are Satan’s snowflakes. There are not individual species of spiders. Like snowflakes, each one is unique. They are individually handcrafted by Satan.

1.) I have the world’s best job, and I’m lucky as fuck to be able to do it.

So…what do you believe to be true? And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ lists.

Jess  *  Deelylah  *  Gwen  *  Kris

Monthly Goals Check-In: October 2017

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Man, I’ve been kicking ass this month. My goals were:

  • Finish the rewrite of Under Your Spell  (Ummmm…no. But I’ve made progress.)
  • Finish all of my scheduled blog posts  (Yep.)
  • Finish building the last website  (Nope.)
  • Complete the assigned audiobook preps  (Did 6. And I’ll finish the last by the 31st.) 
  • Sort bedding and purge my clothes. (Not yet, but I might still get to it by Monday.)
  • Finish the two very, very late Christmas presents. (Getting much closer!)
  • Start holiday shopping. (Yep.)
  • Send out review requests (Yep.)
  • Finish the coursework for the surprise class I took in September. (Yep.)
  • Complete scheduled client edits. (Finished all 4.)

And for the bonus round, I also created a new lesson for a coaching client, did a metric fuckton of market research, updated one of the websites I manage, read three books, and mapped out a holiday project with Jess,

So, for next month, my goals are:

  • Finish all of my scheduled blog posts.
  • Write and practice my presentation on POV for the November GRRWG meeting.
  • Finish the guest blog posts I agreed to.
  • Finish my part of the holiday project.
  • Finish the two very, very late Christmas presents.
  • Finish sewing at least four holiday gifts.
  • Continue the holiday shopping.
  • Complete scheduled audio preps.
  • Complete scheduled client edits.
  • Finish building the last client website.
  • Continue rewrites of re-release books.
  • Read three more books.
  • Sort the bedding and purge my clothes if I don’t finish that this month.

Okay, I think that’s everything for now. What are your goals for the month? Be sure to check out Jess‘ check-in, too!

 

My Writing Process Revisited: Has it Changed/Evolved?

Okay, so this is a topic we’ve touched on before, and unless you’re really new here, you already know that I am the Pantsiest Panster Who Ever Pantsed™.

Since my process hasn’t really changed, and in an attempt not to rehash previous posts, I thought I’d lay out my process with my latest release, Rewritten, Book 7 in the Bound series that I share with Jess Jarman.

Despite the fact that my non-writing workload has been nuts this year, not to mention the whole cover identity problem where we learned that I am, in fact, the literal worst, the book itself came together fairly easily, and in my usual Pantsiest Panster Who Ever Pantsed™ way.

As always, the first step was getting a line of dialogue in my head. Well, in this case, it was three lines of dialogue.

“I don’t need a minder. Didn’t ask for you. Don’t want you.”

And I had my usual thought: Who the hell says something like that? The immediate answer was, obviously, an asshole. Probably someone like this, but with a Scottish accent instead of an Irish one. So, you know, an asshole named Angus. A hot asshole named Angus.
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The next question is why is this guy such a dick? I realized pretty quickly that it was someone who was experiencing a lot of frustration and and guilt over the poor life choices that led him to whatever emotional hole he’s in.

Then I had to decide who he was saying it to? And why. Normally, it takes me a little longer to figure out a character’s backstory is. But I knew right away what Eliza’s past entailed and exactly what her secrets were and what she had to hide. But I was stuck on the why. Why she was stuck babysitting Angus?  What was his damage that he needed a keeper anyway?

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I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t comb through a ridiculous amount of Aidan Turner photos on Pinterest while trying to answer that question. But, when I saw this picture, I was like, “He’s the super hot George R. R. Martin of Sci-Fi–that’s why!”

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(Side note: If you’re my husband or children, and you hear me announce random stuff like this on the regular, you just roll your eyes and say things like: “I hope he writes faster than the actual one.” or “He’d better not sell a TV series before he’s done writing his damn books.” Or, if you’re my daughter, “So…how hot?” Which, I suppose, is proof that most writers don’t live in a vacuum. And inspiration is everywhere. Or something.) 

Once I knew that much about Angus, (thanks, Pinterest and fam) I knew why Eliza was there and what she was supposed to be doing and exactly how much he was going to hate it.

This is the part where I wish I could tell you that I plotted like a reasonable person. But I don’t. It’s not for lack of want or trying. It’s just that thinking all the way through a plot doesn’t work for me. It’s just not how my brain is wired.

But this was the point where I sat down and thought seriously about what specifically Angus and Eliza each wanted at this point in their lives, why they wanted it, and why they couldn’t have it. Good old GMC: goals, motivation, and conflict.

Usually, the dialogue that starts a story idea growing in the first place doesn’t end up working into the story until later in the book. For instance, the line that ended up being the impetus for In Bounds :

“Butterscotch chips can’t dance with all that skirt.”

didn’t end up showing up in the story until page 37. So I had to do a lot of working backward to figure out how the hell that conversation would even happen.

Angus’ dialogue was clearly the opening of this story which made it a little weird for me. I like working backward because it feels like I have a better sense of who the characters are when I start the actual story. But, I knew what their GMCs were, I knew their story would require shoving them both together whether they wanted it or not, so sci-fi cons and author events seemed perfect.

At this point, I think I had ideas for two or three scenes that occurred  later in the book: a scene where she’s pissed at him for invading her privacy, one where he finds out what her previous name was, and one where she has a pretty brutal panic attack. The trick, as usual, was getting there.

I knew the privacy invasion scene would come first, so again it was a case of working backward from there to the line, “I don’t need a minder.” and start writing. Then I sent chapters to my CPs for feedback as I wrote toward the next plot point that I was aware of. I was surprised by how the revelation of Eliza’s former name came out and more surprised by everything that happened afterward. The way I’d originally thought it would go was…not at all how it went. But, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Writing really went fairly well until I got to the reason for Eliza’s panic attack. Without giving away too much, I was having trouble maneuvering the cause of her panic attack to the venue where it began. And that required multiple (probably whiny) phone calls to my series partner, Jess (who is all things patient, wise, and brilliant).

By this point, I had a few more vague scene-shaped ideas that I knew were coming up, so I continued writing toward those. But there were still tons of surprises for me along the way–like Angus’ friend Tansy, more about his brother (which forced me to go back and change some things earlier in the book), and more about how truly isolated Eliza had been.

There were more (also whiny) phone calls to Jess when the big black moment arrived because I was, again, having trouble getting the cause to the venue. And there was also the borrowing of Jess’ character, Kit (OMGYOUGUYSICAN’TWAITFORHISSTORY!) who was instrumental in the secondary plot resolution.

But that’s basically my process. Get a line of dialogue and some vague distant-y sort of plot points and write until I reach them while occasionally whining at Jess. I think this works for me for a couple of reasons. I’m not really a linear thinker–not with my own writing, anyway–editing is a completely different story. Also, I have Attention Deficit Disorder. No, it’s not a superpower or anything, it’s actually a pain in the ass in a lot of ways, but it’s a gift when it comes to making connections that I never would have seen if I was trying to plot a book prior to writing.

I’ve realized that whether I’m consciously thinking about it or not, I understand and can utilize the tenets of story structure. Even better, now that I worry far less about knowing how everything is supposed to go before I start writing, I allow the story to unfold in ways that surprise me every time. And even if I don’t consciously know what’s going to happen, my subconscious apparently does because as I get to the last third or so of any story, I realize that I’ve laid the groundwork for various events earlier in the book without even realizing it. I love it when I see those connections pop up and I figure out how to use them. Pretty sure that’s an ADD thing. But trusting the story to unfold in the way it’s meant to, and trusting myself to get it there, has been huge for me as a writer.

I know that probably sounds super crunchy granola, but that’s the process that works for me. Anyone else write like this? Be sure to check out Torrance and Kris‘ processes, too!

If you’d like to read Rewritten, that would be awesome! You can find it at these fine places.

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(excerpt)       Amazon  *  B&N  *  iBooks  *  Kobo

And if you’d like to read the previous posts on this topic, check out:

My Writing Process in 30ish Steps

How I Create My Characters AKA The Children’s Book Proposal that Tanked: If You Give a Bron a Line of Dialogue