7-7-7 times 3

Author Dana Mason tagged me for a 7-7-7 challenge on Facebook, but since I’d just posted another challenged concerning my WIP, I decided to post my response—tripled—here, instead. The challenge calls for you to go to page 7 of your WIP, count down 7 lines, and then share the next 7 lines. Since I have three Works-In-Progress, I’m giving you 7-7-7 of all three. Sorry, I’m not sharing titles, yet.

 Book #1 – Paranormal

Julie stared out across the yard. For a moment, the only sound was the clink of ice against glass as she stirred her tea with a fingertip. “Maybe we’ll resume the life we had before Megan was born.”

“Maybe,” he said, his tone so noncommittal it stripped the word of meaning. More than age had made them nearly unrecognizable as the same couple in the wedding portrait hanging in the foyer. He thought about that a lot lately. Had they actually changed or just moved apart? And, whichever had happened, was it too late to reverse it?

 ~~~~~

Book #2 – Romantic Comedy

“Do you require something more, Ms. Shaw?”

The arrogance in his voice snaps me back to earth. “Not from you, Mr. Hi— Pearce.” As I head toward the stairs, I’m aware his door hasn’t closed, and I figure since he’s watching my ass anyway, I might as well give him a better look, so I stop at the top of the steps, turn my back to him, and pull down my sweats to show him the cheetah print thong I’m wearing. His door clicks closed, but not before I hear him gasp.

Game tied.

~~~~~

Book #3 – Women’s Fiction

“We’ve had break-ins, Nicole. You know that.”

“Funny how those break-ins always occur in the middle of the day when I’m at work.”

Curtis kicked the duffle, but then he sat still. After a moment, he looked up at me like a child still hoping to talk his way out of punishment. “Where am I supposed to go?”

I took a deep breath. I could do this. “Why not move in with your scummy girlfriend?” Surprise lit his glance before it hardened to a glare. He thought he’d kept that secret from me. “Let her support your habit.”

 ~~~~~

There you go. I hope something sparked your interest.

I’m supposed to tag seven other writers to take up the 7-7-7 challenge, but I recently tagged writers on another FB challenge, so I won’t choose anyone here. But if you’d like to share seven lines of your work-in-progress, please do so in the comments or, if on your blog, leave a link for us.

Linda

Formula Writing

In certain genres, some successful authors appear to write to a formula. Certain, some, appear … could that sentence be any vaguer? But it also contains the word successful, though success can also be interpreted in many ways. In this case, I mean those authors sell a lot of books.

formula_m

Part of our goal as authors is to create fans of our work, readers who anticipate and buy our next books. So I imagine those successful authors who write to a formula are not selling each of their books to a new and separate set of readers. No, they have fans who buy all of their books and happily read them.

I’ve heard it said that some of these books are so formulaic that little more than the character names and the locations are changed. I expect that’s exaggeration, but I’m not going to waste my time searching for such books to find out. That’s not the kind of formula I’m seeking for my own writing, anyway.

The basic structure that most novels adhere to is a sort of formula. That structure is intuitive to many writers. Not to me. Knowing that I’m going to have to push, pull, squeeze, or stretch the story I’m writing into that 3-act (or whatever) structure haunts me during the first draft.

I probably shouldn’t be thinking about structure during first drafting, but I can’t help it. I haven’t even settled on an estimated word count for the WIP I’m currently working on. Will it be a novella or novel? That’s one of the reasons I love writing in Scrivener. I go ahead and write the disconnected scenes when they come to me and keep them in a designated folder. When I reach the point where they fit in, I’ll drag them into place.

But I write soooo slowly. I follow a few indie publishing blogs and forums and most of the authors hoping to establish their name (build a fan base), talk about releasing new books every six months—or less. I’ve been working steadily on this WIP for four months and have only 35,000 words written. At that rate, figuring in the writing, editing, revising time, I’ll be lucky to have this book completed in ten months. Add to that a couple of months to prepare for publishing and my start to finish schedule is one year.

I have no ‘day job’ or children under my care, so I can’t complain that I don’t have enough time to write. I do have a health problem that sets me back, but usually only for a day or three at a time. So why am I not more productive?

That’s why I’m wondering about formulas. But I think confidence in my storytelling ability is the formula I’m seeking. If I had that, I’d spend less time stuttering and stammering along in getting that first draft done. And I guess that confidence only comes with time and experience. Which means, I should get back to work. Now.

I wish for all you writers a river of words this week. For you non-writers, I wish for you a week full of whatever you need most.

Linda

Laughter and Love in the Writing Room

I’m struggling a bit with the first draft of one of the books I’m writing this year. The story is meant to be lighter in tone than those I’ve written previously, which means I have to stop myself from delving too deeply into the dark side of my characters. But I entertain myself exploring that off page.

The main character in this novel is Chelsea, who’s twenty-three but having a hard time moving into adulthood. I’m long past that age. At twenty-three, I was married and the mother of two. So even if I could remember my thoughts and feelings back then, they would bear little resemblance to hers.

New_Girl_Intertitle

But I know how to research. I’ve done a good portion of that by reading books and watching movies and TV series featuring characters who are young, single, and funny—and looking for love, of course. Life is all about our relationships.

You might recognize the photo accompanying this post. I’ve recently discovered New Girl. Yes, I know it’s been on the air for three seasons, but I don’t watch much TV and when I do it’s usually drama. Yes, I know the characters in New Girl are in their thirties, but they’re still single and immature and funny. And the show is many years more current than Friends.

Via Netflix, I watch a couple of episodes a night before I fall asleep. So far, that hasn’t inspired any dreams directly related to my book’s plot, but I’m sure my Muse is paying attention.  Plus, laughter is good medicine, which helps with my chronic pain.  And that describes what I’m writing—a little light pushing back the darkness.

I wish you a week filled with laughter and love.

Linda

Kudos to these top commenters!

In the golden age of personal blogging, each of my posts elicited numerous comments. Now, I’m happy to see three or four. I’ve fallen into that blog comment laziness myself, so I can’t complain. Today, because I appreciate their efforts immensely, I’m highlighting the three women who currently hold the top three comment totals on this blog.

Michelle D. Argyle#1 Michelle D. Argyle – Michelle is multi-talented. She’s the author of eight novels and one collection of short stories. Also, as Melissa Williams she’s a book cover artist and designed the beautiful cover for my novel The Brevity of Roses.

I appreciate Michelle for her support on this blog and privately, especially since often it seems we’re on the same wavelength and I know she really understands where I’m coming from.

Here’s Michelle’s author bio:

Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She adores cheese, chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in the time she grabs between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life. Michelle writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult fiction (and other genres when she feels up to it).

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Darlene Foster#2 Darlene Foster – I’m privileged to vicariously travel via Darlene’s photos of her adventures on Facebook and her blog. So I suppose it’s no surprise that her three children’s novels feature world-traveler Amanda. She has a fourth Amanda adventure due out soon, which is set in her own part of the world.

In addition to her comments on this blog, I appreciate Darlene for sharing her well described and photographed travels so I can feel as if I’ve left this valley once in a while and for her lovely smiles that add cheer to my Facebook feed.

Here’s Darlene’s author bio:

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13 year old grandson called her “super-mega-as-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently lives on the west coast of Canada with her husband Paul and their black cat, Monkey.

~~~~~

Christa Polkinhorn#3 Christa Polkinhorn – Christa frequently encourages me when I need it. Recently she reminded me that when she wrote her (wonderful) review of my first novel it was not out of friendship because she had no idea who I was then.

Beyond her comments here, I appreciate Christa for sharing her knowledge of self-publishing with me and for trusting me to beta-read her manuscripts. As you can tell from her bio, Christa also travels, so I appreciate her sharing her photos and narratives, too.

Here’s Christa’s author bio:

Born and raised in Switzerland, Christa Polkinhorn has always had a desire to explore the world outside of her beautiful but tiny country. As a young woman, she traveled through Europe, came to the United States on an exchange program, and ended up staying. Her travels led her to China and Japan as well as South America. She studied literature and linguistics in Zurich and California. Now, she lives and works as writer and translator in southern California and divides her time between the United States and her native Switzerland. The tension and excitement this “double life” creates informs her literary work. Most of her novels take place in several countries. Aside from writing and traveling, Christa is an avid reader, a lover of the arts and dark chocolate.

~~~~~

And, of course, thank you to all who take the time to read this blog and comment. :-)

 

Linda

Garbage writing?

Several weeks ago, I felt myself slipping into melancholia. It’s my nature and I accept that, but I try not to give into it for long. This time, reading what I shouldn’t triggered my dark mood. I’d read a couple of blog posts that made ol’ low-confidence me want to remove my books from the market and disappear from the virtual world.

garbageOne of those posts advised indie writers not to subject readers to garbage work—and I agree with that. The problem was that they defined garbage work as any writing that hasn’t been professionally edited. The bottom line: if you can’t afford to hire a professional editor you don’t have the right to publish.

The other post advised publishing only professionally edited writing—with this stipulation: if you do have the audacity to publish work not professionally edited, you must make it permanently free. After all, how dare you expect someone to pay for what is undoubtedly garbage!

I hung my head.

I hadn’t hired a professional editor for my first two books, but I didn’t have the heart to take them completely off the market. They’re exclusive with Amazon, for the time being, so I couldn’t make them permanently free, but I considered lowering the ebook prices to 99-cents and withdrawing the print version.

For a while, I was sad, sad, sad.

And then I said, “Hold on. Who says?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t save the posts, but if I recall correctly, someone affiliated with traditional publishing wrote one of them, and a professional editor wrote the other. So, yeah, consider the source.

No matter how much self-confidence I lack, no matter how hard my perfectionist nature judges my writing, this I know: my writing is not garbage!

For reasons I’ve stated before, I don’t think traditional publishing is for me, so having access to a professional editor that way is out.

The other option is to spend my entire month’s income to hire a freelance professional editor. Unfortunately, I’m too fond of running water, electricity, and food to make that sacrifice.

So I won’t be hiring a professional editor for my next book—unless I find one willing to volunteer their services in exchange for a testimonial or a money miracle occurs (not holding my breath for either.)

Instead, as before, I’ll write, edit, revise, seek feedback from capable writer friends whose writing is strong where mine is weak, and then edit and revise again, as many times as it takes to assure the result won’t be garbage.

I guarantee: My books won’t change the world or likely ever bear the New York Times Best Seller banner or may not suit your particular reading taste, but they’ll never be garbage.

Linda

Could I hear your thoughts on author pseudonyms, please?

It’s been a long time since I blogged three times a week, but since my complete blog hiatus last December, my average was a new post once a week—until last month. In April, I blogged only once. I have a good excuse, though.

I’ve been busy writing. Almost every day. All day.  I finished revising one novel and sent it to an alpha reader. And then I returned to working on a novel in a far different genre. What genre would that be, you ask? Well, it used to be called chick-lit, but that term is passé. Let’s call it romantic comedy.

3apples

If you’ve read my other books, you know I don’t usually write light stories. And neither my recently revised novel nor the other one still in first drafting are anything close to humorous. So writing romantic comedy is an experiment for me.

I’ve been having a lot of fun writing it, but I knew that was no guarantee anyone else would have fun reading it. And because writing time is too precious to waste, I decided to test my comedy writing ability by asking for a little feedback. The verdict is a thumbs-up. Yay! Now, I’ll continue my fun project with more confidence.

But since the genres of the revised novel and this one are both different genres from my usual serious women’s fiction, I’m revisiting the idea of author branding. I want my brand to be good writing, of course. But for marketing purposes it’s said to be helpful if readers identify your author name with a particular genre. In my case, that would be three author names.

I wouldn’t try to be three completely different people. For instance, I wouldn’t use different bios and author photos (two not mine.) Though I expect I’d need some presence in social media under the two new names. Even so, that might be more problematic than I think. So …

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Are any of you writing under two or more author names? If so, would you share your thoughts on the pros and cons of that, please?

 

Linda