Monday, January 28, 2008
1. Visualize it - What do I want and why do I want it? You should be able to close your eyes and "see" what you want. Be specific. "Getting published" is not specific. "Writing 100 words a day" is.
2. Plan it - when must this be completed? What is your deadline? This one can be a little harder, especially for writers. Unless you're working on a contracted work, we usually don't have specific deadlines. So if you don't, you need to set one for yourself - and stick to it!
3. Model it - Who has the experience and track record for me to model? This is more important for beginning writers than experienced ones. Find someone who has been through the process and talk to them. Discover what goes into writing an article, chapter, book...and determine if you can add the work to your daily tasks.
4. Write it - What are the individual actions necessary to achieve the goal? If your goal is publication (though, again, this is not a controllable goal), break down what you need to do to achieve this - write 100 words a day (or more), research markets, learn the craft, etc. Again, be specific. This is where #3 will help because you'll be able to ask someone who's been there what you need to do. This is probably the most important step. Writing things down makes them real.
5. Do it - What can I do to move toward finishing my goal? Do something every day to meet your goal. Don't just sit around wondering why things aren't happening.
6. Enjoy it - How can you make this an enjoyable process? Yes, writing (or any job) is hard work, but there are ways to make it fun. Join a group, find others who have similar goals and share the load, find ways to make what you're doing fun.
7. Support, balance and nurture - Am I doing what I can to keep myself healthy while I work on my goal? This includes mentally, physically, and emotionally. You need all three to be content.
8. Refine it - Am I on course to achieve my target? How can I improve my process? During the time it takes to achieve your goal, occasionally stop and look at what you're doing. Is there some way to improve what you're doing (get up 15 minutes earlier and write 250 words a day). Look at where you started, where you are, and where you're going and determine if you can make it better.
So, are you making your list?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Yeah, I didn't think so.
It's been one of those months and it's only going to get worse over the next few. But that's okay. I'll deal.
In the meantime, I am working through the edits on my new book, a fantasy, that I believe is my best book yet. I'm excited about it and will start subbing as soon as I'm satisfied it's the best it can be.
And I am so looking forward to the release of my next book, The Shape of Love, which will be out as both an e-book and paperback. I can't wait.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Last week, I received eight books in the mail - eight full length novels that I have to read for a contest I'm judging. Before you shake your finger and tell me that's my own fault, yes, I know it is. But I volunteered for this several months ago. It's a contest I've judged before and I normally receive three or four books. I've never gotten more than four. Now I have eight. And they have to be done by the first week of March. So I've been reading.
Two down, six to go. So far so good. :)
In addition, I'm taking an on-line course in time management (hah!) that is rather intensive. I'm working through the exercises and learning to say "no". Not easy for me, but I'm learning. And learning to better prioritize things. I've broken the things I need to and want to do down into "projects" and am assigning them place values according to when they need to be done and how important they are to me. It may sound easy, but it's not as simple as you think. But I am seeing ways to pare things down and combine others to make life a little easier for myself.
And I'm learning to take time for me, too.
And that's important for everyone, not just writers.
So for yourself, take the next five minutes and relax or do something fun. Roll your shoulders. Stretch a little. Read a funny cartoon. Enjoy life for the next five minutes.
Progress today: 56 pages edited in WIP, second judging novel finished (333 pages in 3 days), homework done, blogging, e-mails, etc. done.
Teaser: Make a list of seven projects you either have to get done or want to get done. What is your time line on getting them done (is there a deadline)? Figure out what you need to do each day or week to get them done and mark this in your calendar. Then start whittling away. A little each day.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Things continue to move along at Draumr Publishing for the upcoming "The Shape of Love" book. We got a preview peek at the cover art this week and I absolutely love it! Especially since it's taken from a scene of my story.
On the writing front, I'm taking a bit of a break. I've got two books to work on editing and my goal is to finish that before starting anything new. I've also been busy submitting to agents. I'll let you know if anything happens.
Teaser: Sometimes contrasts give a reader more details than descriptions. Your challenge today is to write a winter scene (cold, snow, sleet, freezing, all that good stuff) using contrasts. Use the words: sweltering, iced tea, pond.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
For those who haven't heard, I was asked last October to be a part of a contemporary shape-shifter anthology. I had two weeks to write a 60,000 word story, submit it and get in on this wonderful opportunity. In a whirlwind of writing - at a time when I had absolutely no time - I did so and it was accepted. The book will be called "The Shape of Love" and will be out sometime next month. It will be available both as a trade paperback and as an e-book download. Yippeeeee!!!
Here's a peek from Rida's Blog:
This upcoming release, The Shape of Love, is a paranormal anthology that involves shapeshifters. What's different, you ask, about these shapeshifters? Well, for one, they're a part of our Dangerous Curves books, which means our heroines are lovely BBWs. What else is different? These books involve humans who shift into domestic animals, like cats and dogs. This is a contemporary paranormal anthology, and does not involve horror or blood and gore. These stories are definitely worth the read...
Who's Your Alpha? by Vicky Burkholder
Sunny Clark always thought she was the only shape shifter in the town where she grew up. But when she returns for her high school reunion, she is shocked to find that nearly the whole town can turn into one thing or another. Including her teen crush, David Maxwell.
After a challenge for position in the pack, where Sunny defeats the town's Alpha female, the real question becomes does David only want the new Alpha female, or has he always wanted Sunny just as she is?
Out of the Storm by Misty Simon
Sarah James' quiet, almost solitary life changes when she rescues a wet, bedraggled cat out of a raging storm. But he always seems to disappear without explanation, only to return at the oddest times. Is he really lost, or does he have a secret life outside her apartment walls?
Trenton Cutlass has been forced to roam ever since he was cursed into the form of a fat, tabby cat after dusk. No one has ever taken him in...until Sarah. Suddenly, breaking the curse is more important than ever, or he'll have to abandon the lovely Sarah forever.
Sheltered by Victoria Smith
Drugged and lost after escaping a deranged kidnapper, Dane Masters is stuck as his hereditary alternate form. While wandering the streets on four wobbly paws, he's taken in by vet tech Izzy Burnett. Once he has regained his strength, and his memories, Dane realizes he has found his predestined mate. But will he have time to convince Izzy before the kidnapper turns killer?
Teaser: If you could "shift" - what animal would you shift to and why?
Monday, January 14, 2008
Those of us who work at home have to be more disciplined than those who go to an office. Yes, it's nice to have the freedom to not have to get dressed up, join the throngs on the highways to drive to an impersonal building where we sit in a little cubicle every day. We can get up when we want, get coffee or other treats when we want and not have to pay the "coffee fund", and if something comes up, we don't have to beg for time off. There are definite perks to working from home.
But there are also drawbacks. Everyone who has your phone number (or a way to find it) will and they will ask you to do all sorts of things. You work at home? Oh, then you have time to head this committee, take care of these kids, go out to lunch, go shopping, come visit, chat on the phone, etc. The list is endless.
And if you dare say "no", you get grief.
What the callers don't realize is that you are working! Would they call and ask if you were in one of those cubicles? No. But because you work at home, you have endless amounts of time and energy. Guess what folks... we all get the same 24 hours in a day. Just because we spend our work hours in our living rooms (or wherever), doesn't mean we are free to do as we please. In fact, we often work longer hours than we would if we were in an office, for less pay and no benefits.
Well, okay, not "no benefits" - I'm talking stuff like insurance, retirement, etc. We do get benefits. I roll out of bed in the morning, turn on the computer, feed the cat, get my tea and I'm at work. In my pj's. It's lovely. And if my husband wants to spend the day running around, I do sometimes have the freedom to adjust my schedule as needed. So yes, there are benefits.
But if you have a friend who is a work-at-home person, don't be offended if they say "no" to your spontaneous idea of shopping/coffee/etc. They may be under a deadline, or the muse may have just settled in after a long dry spell. A work-at-home person is at work even when they are at home.
Teaser: If you are a work-at-home person, make a list of five pros and five cons about working there. If you're an office worker, do the same but from an "office" point of view. Now, think about the cons - how can you make them better?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Last Saturday was my regular local writer's group meeting. We usually meet in a public library in their large "meeting" room. But last weekend, they had that room reserved for a larger group than us and we were shuffled into the "Board Room". Now don't get me wrong, this is a nice room, though rather small. A long table situated in front of a large window - very pretty. Set up to hold maybe sixteen people in a pinch.
There were twenty-five of us (or more - I didn't do a count). It was rather cozy. But even with the tight quarters, it was a really good meeting.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I concentrated on my work in progress, cranking out the pages as never before and by Tuesday, voila! Done. 394 pages.
Now the editing begins.
Thursday, my latest book, "Danger on Xy-One" came out from Cerridwen Press and I spent the entire day (10 hours!) on the computer doing chats and promos.
Yesterday was another meeting - this one strictly social, though we did talk a lot about agents, editors, submissions, etc. So social with a purpose. :)
Oh, and my on-line class in organization continues to go well.
So that is the week in a nutshell - at least as far as the writing world goes. Yes, I do have a life outside of writing, and it was incredibly busy and full of ups and downs, as everyone's life is. Like everyone else, I have my worries - but this is not the place to air them. This is about writing. So... how is your progress going? Do you need a kickstart to get your fingers typing again? Do you need help with time management? Or do you just want to vent about how long it takes to get a yes or no from an agent or editor?
Let me know about your writing life.
Teaser: Take the following and use them in a scene:
clock, scissors, award, camera
The power was out again, but this time...
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Save a tree - read an e-book!
One day til "Danger on Xy-One" is out!
Monday, January 07, 2008
Coming Thursday, January 10th from Cerridwen Press
Welcome to the Devil’s Pit. Home sweet home. My name is Ulrich Vonner and I run the Web, the base of operations for Bounty Hunters, Inc. You need a criminal found? We will find them. The crime doesn’t matter. Remember that we don’t work for free—our fees are high, but we always catch our man, woman, or whatever species it is that you’re after. Of course, catching them and bringing them in are two different things. We may be scoundrels but we aren’t without conscience.
I started this business fifteen years ago. Hunters come and hunters go, but that’s life. No one lasts forever, not in this business. Each of my bounty hunters has his or her reasons for turning hunter. I don’t ask what they are and I don’t care. They war with their inner demons, carve out a living for themselves, and then they move on—provided they survive their stint as a hunter. I don’t get attached, and I don’t mourn their loss. I learned long ago not to depend on anyone but myself. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, which is the primary reason I deal with the Amalgamation.
Behind every great power is corruption, and the Amalgamation is no exception. However, they do pay well, and I’m not without my own agenda. I fight to survive and to hold on to what little I have left. Bounty Hunters, Inc. gives me a purpose and a damned good excuse to move in the circles I do. It’s said a man is judged by the company he keeps, so what does that say about me? In a galaxy fraught with danger, Bounty Hunters, Inc. will strive to satisfy all our customers—if it’s in our best interests to do so. Though we may wear a veneer of legal process, we are bounty hunters and we hunt those we are paid to hunt. If in the process we bring down those who would do harm to others—so much the better.
What is a bounty hunter? We’re just glorified rogues trying to make the best out of what life tossed our way. The galaxy is not without its flaws or its bad seeds, and that’s what we’re here for—to do the jobs no one else wants.
The best way to learn about Bounty Hunters, Inc. and me is to get to know the people who work for me first. They are good people in their own ways, but if you cross them, be prepared to face the consequences.
Let the hunting begin…
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Excerpt from DANGER ON XY-ONE by Vicky Burkholder
Available from Cerridwen Press, January 10th, 2008
His coal black hair was cropped close like most spacers and his eyes were a clear shade of sky blue ringed with a darker hue. He had long thick lashes that ought to be illegal on a man. Rather than the typical station jumpsuit, he wore a deep blue vest over a creamy shirt that fit as though molded on him. His dark pants matched the vest and fit like the shirt, leaving nothing to the imagination. Knee-high black boots completed the outfit, but something was missing. He reminded her of a hero in the fantasy stories she liked to read. He looked like he ought to be wearing a set of pearl-handled guns, slung low on his hips. The dark shadow shaving couldn’t erase gave his face a mysterious, sensual look that set her heart to beating faster than normal.
“I guess I’d better go change. I’m a mess.” She picked at her suit.
“You’re a little iridescent, but you look fine to me,” he said.
As she tried to compose herself, Ali studied him further. He looked very relaxed, but she believed he was alert to everything going on around them. Though subtle, the movement of his eyes told her he saw everything.
While he seemed pleasant enough, there was no way to tell what lay under the veneer. Who was he? Where was he from? His arrival had to be logged in on the station database. She’d have to check the records for new arrivals. Sometimes there were advantages to being the only niece of the station manager.
“Will you let me pay for the damages?” he asked. “If I remember correctly, rainbows don’t wash out. I have to stop by station security, but I could see you to your place first.”
Ali eyed him, wondering what business he had with her uncle. “No, but thanks. This wasn’t completely your fault. I can’t even say for sure who ran into whom. What about the rest of your stuff? Is it all right?”
With her help, he gathered his scattered supplies and checked them. He chucked the smashed bag in the nearest refuse chute. “Everything else seems all right. If you’re sure you’re okay, I’ll be on my way.”
Ali watched him stroll down the corridor until he disappeared around a corner. Shamelessly, she followed. Since she knew where he was going, she took a little-used maintenance corridor to her uncle’s office. She slipped in a side door and listened, out of sight, to their conversation. The office door was open and she could hear every word being spoken.
“Commander, I was told you could help me. I’m looking for A.K. Andrews. I understand he’s staying here.”
Ali bit her lip. A.K. Andrews was the name she’d used on her net summons, but she hadn’t given any location. What could the strange man want with her? She listened as Rod asked her question.
“This is about a job he advertised on the net.”
The summons had specified she be contacted through her advocates. There was no mention of the station. How had the man traced her here? Now she was even more intrigued than before. It would take someone very cunning to have found her base. She made a quick decision and strolled into the office.
“Uncle Rod?” she said as she entered, “I forgot to give you a copy of the salvage schedule for my ship.” She met the stranger’s eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had someone in here.” She stuck out her hand. “Hi. We weren’t properly introduced before. I’m Aleksia Matthews—Ali to most people. And you’re…”
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Today's guest is Anita Birt, a Cerridwen Press writer. Below is an excerpt from her story "Isabelle's Story"
Isabelle stepped aside when she heard horses coming up behind her. Two beautiful young women elegantly turned out in green velvet riding habits, rode towards her. They cast withering glances at Isabelle and one turned to the other, laughing.
“C’est linfirmiere du Spa. Imaginez! Elle se promene toute seule sans chapeau. Elle est affreuse avec cette coiffure.”
Her companion nodded. “Et lavez-vous entendu parler? C’et accent Gallois terrible!”
Isabelle understood every insulting word and threw her stick at one of the horses, whacking it firmly on the rump. The startled animal reared and took off in a tearing gallop with the girl clinging to the reins. Isabelle burst out laughing.
“You should not have done that.” A man’s voice startled her. She spun around to confront him, lost her footing on the muddy path and tumbled down the hill, skidding to an awkward stop when her skirt caught in a patch of thorny blackberry bushes. He vaulted from his horse and slid down the grassy slope after her.
“Are you all right? I am sorry. I did not mean to frighten you.”
Isabelle scrambled to her feet. Embarrassed and well aware of her muddy, disheveled appearance, she straightened her skirt. “I am quite all right, please join your friends.”
She kept her gaze firmly fixed on the ground and waited for him to leave before climbing up to the path. Throwing the stick at the horse had been childish. What if the girl had fallen? Isabelle forced herself to look at him.
He smiled, very likely enjoying her predicament. His riding jacket stretched taut over his broad shoulders. Momentarily at a loss for words, Isabelle blinked and stopped staring at him. A lock of auburn hair had fallen across his forehead and laughter lurked in his eyes. Was he laughing at her?
“But I must know your name. It is not every day I frighten young ladies into falling down hills.”
“I am not the least bit frightened and see no reason for you to know my name.” With a haughty toss of her head, she started up the slope only to slide back and flounder awkwardly on her knees.
He gripped her arm. “You must allow me.”
Isabelle bit her lip, furious at herself for slipping on the wet grass. The steely strength of his arm pressed against her side unnerved her. Feeling light-headed, she accepted his help to the top.
“Thank you.” She tugged her arm away and started down the path, desperately trying to hold back tears.
“Wait!” He caught her hand. “You still have not told me your name.”
He towered over her and for seconds she gazed helplessly into the depths of his dark blue eyes. Her knees trembled.
“I am Harry Manderlin.”
Isabelle died inside. His mother was her patient at the spa! Why did he wish to know her name? Fearful of some punishment for throwing the stick, she refused to answer. Her behavior might reflect badly on the clinic.
“Surely, my name is not important, neither to you nor your friends.” In a rush of anger, she snatched her hand from his and glared defiantly at him. “Please tell them this. Although they find my Welsh accent deplorable, their French accent leaves much to be desired.”
She raised her chin. “Vos amies parlent Francais comme des vaches espagnoles. What is more, they have the manners of the gutter!”
Blinded by angry tears, she fled down the path. To be seen by such people, looking like a muddy gypsy girl was mortifying. Then to be insulted! She was glad she’d thrown the stick. Glad. As for him, he probably thought helping her up the hill was a great joke, a wonderful story to tell his companions.
Harry watched her until she disappeared around a bend in the path and into the shelter of some trees. A rueful smile tipped his lips. She wanted nothing to do with him. He swung into the saddle and cantered up the path. When he caught up with his friends, Sylvia fumed at him.
“We recognized her.” Mary Anne declared. “She gives treatments at the spa. You must have her dismissed.”
“Dismissed, because she was so offended by your rude remarks, she threw a stick at you?”
They gaped at him. “She speaks excellent French and suggests you both mind your manners and take lessons to improve your accent.” He did not mention the girl thought they spoke French like Spanish cows.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
My guest today is author Sandra Cox. She's giving us an excerpt from her book "Boji Stones". I hope you enjoy! You can read more about Sandra's books at her blog: http://sandracox.blogspot.com
BOJI STONES by Sandra Cox
His trembling fingers rested on the keyboard as he leaned toward the monitor, an uncontrollable twitch running through his misshapen body as he devoured the article with the greedy need of a child offered chocolate.
Legend has it that out of all the mortals on earth five women found favor with the gods—
Sophia whose face was pitted and ravaged by pox,
Zoe a young queen whose village was razed and plundered and she herself taken as slave,
Pelagia who had the body of a woman and the mind of a child,
Olympia a poor widow with children to feed,
Helen, who’d lost four children to the plague and begged the gods to spare her remaining child.
Moved, the gods created five special amulets.
To Sophia they gave an amulet forged with beauty and creativity.
To Zoe an amulet forged with power.
To Pelagia an amulet forged with knowledge.
To Olympia an amulet forged with wealth.
And for Helen they forged a copper amulet with a beautiful amethyst at its center. Two plain stones the size of small coins flanked the amethyst. The female stone smooth, the male stone’s texture rough. Then they fused the amulet with healing.
Or so legend has it…