Falling Apart: A ROW80 Check In

This week has been a doozie on all fronts.

A week and a half ago, my allergist said I had a sinus infection, so he loaded me up with all kinds of meds to knock it out.

Well…they knocked out the infection, which is great, but they also took me out! I’ve been going to bed with migraines and waking up with them, which means I’m not sleeping well – as usual – and not getting my hour of writing in the morning. I missed 3 days at the gym because my head felt like it was going to explode every time I tried to use a machine.

My follow-up appointment went something like this:

Doc: So, Kate, how are you feeling? Everything good now?

Me: Not great, nope, I’ve had headaches all week. This is pretty much the worst I’ve felt in a while.

Doc: Really? What happened? Tell me about it, what’s going on?

Me: Well…*explained about the migraines and the gym experiences*

Doc: Hm. *stares thoughtfully at me* We could just put you down.

And that is why I see this man. He thinks outside the box :P

One highlight, though, is a friend recommended a book titled, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D.  I’ve been reading it all week, and she has opened my eyes! If you haven’t had the experience of reading her wisdom, I encourage you to do so immediately.

No new news on the home-finding front ~ still looking..

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

Life, and ROW80

One downside to renting a house is that when the owner decides to move home, you lose yours.

So that’s what’s goin’ on with me right now. Going to be less writing and posting, and more home-finding :(

It’s not a total loss though:

  • In writing, I made more progress with my plot and outlining
  • I got farther in Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell, and started reading Shadow Game, by Christine Feehan. I haven’t decided what I think about SG yet; it has an excellent premise, and I’m liking the characters so far, I’m just not sure about all of the POV hopping. Has anyone else read this book?
  • Still going strong on the exercising. I had to miss one night for my daughter’s Open House, but that’s excusable :P

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

Check Out These Rockstars!

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.

Allow me to shine the spotlight on three lovely ladies whose recent blog posts really stuck with me. Without further ado…

Victoria Mixon

An oldie but goodie, Victoria guest-posted on Jami Gold’s blog back in November. In this post, she explained story climax and drew an excellent mental diagram of exactly how it is supposed to be laid out for the reader. Brilliant post Victoria, thank you!

Jami Gold

Speaking of Ms. Gold, back in January she asked a question that had been bugging me: Do you call yourself a writer or an author? Her answer is both smart and sassy, admirable qualities, those. Thank you for relieving me of that particular burden, Jami!

Jenny Hansen

Every time I see this post in my “saved” folder I smile. The ever intuitive Ms. Hansen hit the proverbial nail on the head with her list of 10 unusual things about writers. I remember reading this for the first time at my allergist appointment, and while waiting for my turn to get poked with needles, I sat in the corner snickering, snorting, and belly laughing. This is a real treat, and for those avid readers out there who haven’t given writing a shot…maybe give it a try :P

And there you have it.

So talk to me. What did you think of Victoria’s take on story climax? Did her description resonate with you, as it did with me? And what about Jami’s answer to the writer vs. author question? What do you call yourself? How did you like Jenny’s 10 unusual things? Did you see yourself in her list?

ROW80 Check In

I’m sitting here, in a post 4-birthday-party-weekend stupor, trying to remember what happened over the last week. Pretty difficult considering I cannot remember what happened only a few hours ago.

Alright, I’ve got it now…a pretty good week this time around:

  • Writing: Not as many words per day as I’d want, but a helluva lot more than last week. Plus I was able to get two very important pieces of my plot puzzle in place, which is exciting!
  • Exercise: Still going strong here…missed Tuesday night for my daughter’s birthday, but I figure that’s an acceptable excuse.
  • Reading: I finished Envy by J.R. Ward!  AH-mazing!! I stayed up ’til 2am to finish that sucker…worth every minute late I was to work the next day :P I also made great progress on Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

There you have it. I’m off to rest my brain and enjoy what’s left of the Oscars.

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

The Domino Effect and ROW80 Check-In

And so here we are, one week after I took the plunge and decided to state my goals to the world…

I’m not proud to say that I did not have a good week, friends. No I did not.

Thanks to unforeseen powers, and my lack of self-control, I did not get one single word added to my wip this week.

Not. One. Word.

How did this travesty happen, you ask?

I’ve noticed that the domino-effect has quite the hold on my life. For instance, one night (don’t remember exactly which it was now) I decided that I could stay up until midnight to watch some programs that I’d missed several weeks in a row, which then made me oversleep the next morning–though I was able to scrape together enough minutes to work on my outline…then the next night we had a power outage that set my evening routine back a couple of hours which meant I didn’t get to bed until about as late as the night before, and you guessed it–I overslept…only this time by quite a bit and was almost late to the DJ. Fast-forward to yesterday morning when after a week of no writing, staying up late and over-sleeping, I woke up feeling depressed and had a bad case of self-loathing.

(in case you’re wondering, “DJ” stands for Day Job)

There is this niggling at the back of my neck hinting that my lack of focus might have something to do with my habit of behaving like a deer-in-headlights any time I make progress in my writing career (you may recall the kind words from an agent I shared last check-in). Get caught up on that here.

I will say, however, that my goal of going to the gym every day (except Fridays) is still going strong. Haven’t missed a day yet – well, except for yesterday when Hubs came home, saw me in my PJs and unkempt hair at 2:30pm, and promptly decided to drag me off to Knott’s Berry Farm. Watching my toddler ride rides, and being in the fresh air (as much as can be found in Southern California) did much to improve my state-of-mind. Which, at that time, it was probably more important to spend time with my family and get out of my head. So, everything is still going well on the exercise front.

As for reading, I didn’t read any of my fiction book, Envy by J.R. Ward this week. I DID however, get quite a bit of my craft book in, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I had several inspirations for my wip as well as the series I’ve got brewing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Mr. Bell is a genius!

Ok, well, that’s it for this week. Time to get my head back in the game and start this next week strong.

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress? 

You Are Sucha Procrastinator!

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.

Continuing with our chat about fear, today lets talk about procrastination…

Your wip is waiting for you. You can hear it calling your name. You can feel that niggling sensation at the back of your neck; you know what you need to do, you just…don’t…do it.

Why?

“I’m a procrastinator.”

Well, yeah. Duh. But…why are you a procrastinator?

Note: For all of my non-writer buddies, “wip” means “Work In Progress”

Last time, we chatted about fear and change; about how many people refuse to change simply because they fear it. Whatever their “it” may be.

Using yet another of Bob Mayer’s tips—and how could I not? He’s a genius!—we’re going to delve into our fears a little deeper. It’s ok, don’t worry, yeah just hold my hand, you’ll be alright :P

Since I know myself better than I know you, I’ll use me as an example:

I have never been a procrastinator. In fact, my mantra is “get it done now so it’s out of the way.” I’m rarely late, and I hardly ever miss deadlines or appointments. Just ask my husband, he’ll tell you I excel at crackin’ the whip.

So…why isn’t MY wip—pun intended—finished and ready to submit?

I’m a…procrastinator *cue innocent whistling*

NO! I’m afraid, plain and simple. I think of completing my wip and I think to myself, “It’s not good enough.” The reality is, it’s probably fine (see that ‘probably’ there? Yeah…fear), and yet, I procrastinate.

There are SO many other things that need to be done: laundry, kids need a bath, dinner, clean the [insert room here]…but, oh wait, my husband did all of that. Now what? I feel my laptop staring at me, and I…resist. WHY?! I can’t answer that question…because the funny part is, when I’m writing, I feel SO GOOD! I feel amazing…I feel energized and alive…so, why do I resist?

Fear.

Chatting with you all about my fears has been enormously helpful. The past several weeks I’ve been able to face quite a bit of mine, and begin working through some others. My hope is that you have been able to do the same! We’ll have the final word on fear next week :)

So talk to me. Are YOU a procrastinator? Do you find yourself searching out other tasks in order to avoid an intimidating one? How do you work through procrastination?

Taking the Plunge ~ ROW80 Check-In

That’s it. I’ve decided. I’m doing it ~ I’m taking the plunge.

I’m joining #ROW80 :)

We’ve shared our fears and discussed how fear can play a role in everything we do. In opening up and baring my own fears with all of you, I’ve been able to dissect some of them and even overcome a few.

Hence my decision to finally take responsibility for my procrastination, and take the steps necessary to achieve my dream. In case you hadn’t guessed it, my dream is to become a published author. Just thought I’d clarify that :P

Ok, so here are my goals for Round One:

  • Write ½ hr to 1 hour every morning before getting ready for work, since this is the ONLY peaceful, quiet time I have. I have sub-goals for this one: The first is finishing up the draft outline for my WIP. The second is working on revisions and the bit of research left. Finally, one more read through with revisions…then, done!
  • Read 1 craft book and 1 fiction book per week. I haven’t been as good about reading the craft books as I have been about the fiction…go figure. Having set this as a goal will help me focus and get the important reading done. For craft, I’m currently reading James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure, which is amazing…he’s is truly a genius. THANK YOU Kristen Lamb for pimping him so much!! For fiction I’m reading J.R. Ward’s Envy. Man, I’m really diggin’ me some fallen angels :P
  • Go to the gym every evening except Friday (those are grocery shopping nights :P). I have trouble sleeping, and feeling sluggish during the day, so this will help in those areas, as well as improving my overall health :) I’ve already had a great start on this one. And actually, getting exercise has been a critical part of all the progress I’ve made lately.

I’m SO excited I decided to do this, and SO happy my good friend Jenny Hansen pushed and shoved encouraged me to join.

Since the spotlight is still glaring above me, and while I’m uncomfortably warm under it, I may as well share some pretty exciting news, which was another poke that got me here today:

I belong to an online chapter of RWA: Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Last week, I participated in an online conference, and at the end of the week we had an opportunity to pitch to some fabulous agents and publishers.

Because I’d made so much progress the last several weeks with going to the gym every night, which helped me fall asleep, which helped me wake up early, which led to me writing every morning…I felt that I was ready to really put myself out there and have an industry professional take a small peek and let me know what areas could use some improvement.

So, Friday morning at 7am I sent in my pitch for my wip, HIS BEWITCHED HEART, to Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency. A few agonizing hours later she responded by saying:

“I love how organically you’ve woven in the details about witches in your writing. Very well done. This is superior writing and an excellent concept.”

She finished by asking me to let her know as soon as the novel is finished.

I’ve had friends, family, and my husband tell me that I have talent and that they liked my writing. But to have someone of Sara’s caliber tell me I have “superior writing” is just…well, words cannot describe how I’ve been feeling all weekend.

Ah, but now, now I have a book to finish!!! :) As Jenny said in her #ROW80 post this morning, I’m fired up!

For you other #ROW80’ers, and for those of you who haven’t posted your goals yet, go here to use the linky tool.

So talk to me. Are you part of the #ROW80 club? Do you have a goal list that you actively pursue on a regular basis? What helps you meet your goals?

To Your Health!

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.

Today I’d like to pay tribute, or tabhartas, to those posts I’ve enjoyed recently. Without further ado…

On Tuesdays, Jenny Hansen blogs about techie stuff, and this post on QR Codes is really cool. You can do so much with them, most especially use them for marketing that ah-mazing book you just published!  More recently, Jenny blogged about how physical therapy relates to writing. Really great insight, and fantastic ideas. Check it out!

Back in October, Steena Holmes posted a thinker, asking Do You Know How To Say No? This is an essential skill for the guilt-ridden writer to learn. It’s OK to say “no” to friends and family sometimes ~ sometimes, it’s even critical to do so. I gotta go re-read this one..

..Ok, back. Now, where was I? Ah, yes…

Ever wanted to go on vacation…maybe somewhere exotic…but just couldn’t see a way over the expenses to do it? Well, look no further my friends. Patricia Sands tells us this very affordable, and not so unique it turns out, way to make it happen. A big thanks to Marcia Richards for hosting Patricia and sharing the love!

Writers In The Storm, or WITS, is one of my fave blogs to read ~ they always have fantastic info, insights, and guest posters. Recently, they hosted the one…the only…the Naked Editor, Tiffany Lawson Inman. If you haven’t had the experience of Naked Editing, I suggest you check this out now. Tiffany has this idea that thrillers are not the only genre that can have thrilling page turners. She talks about how to make even the sappiest romance an on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.

In her post, The Dark Side of Metrics – Writer Friend or Ticket To Crazy Town?, Kristen Lamb cautions us writers on placing too much importance on our social media numbers. So put down the Jack and/or the cancer stick… and relax.

Elizabeth Spann, over at Mystery Writing is Murder, shared a post by Victoria Mixon about Fair Play. Y’know, letting your reader in on the joke or at least giving them a hint? If you want ‘em to stick around for 10hrs (average time it takes a reader to finish a novel), then you gotta give ‘em something. Great post!

To Jenny, Steena, Patricia, Marcia, the Gals @ WITS, *breath* Tiffany, Kristen, Elizabeth, and Victoria…Slàinte…your health!

NaNoWriMo ~ It’s Not Too Late!

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.

Continuing my earlier post on NaNoWriMo preparedness, we’re going to catch up with Mr. Brook’s tips for successfully making it through the whirlwind that is National Novel Writing Month.

Larry Brooks, author of DARKNESS BOUND, is The Storyfixer.

If you’re going to participate in NaNoWriMo and you’re still wondering how you’re going to tackle it all, or if you’re just looking for tips, Storyfix.com is the NaNo resource. You still have plenty of time to prepare for NaNo ~ as long as you quit lagging and move your tuckus!

Let’s get to it:

#15 – Stuck? Try This and Move Forward. Larry shows us how watching and breaking down the scenes in a movie can help fuel our imaginations and pull us over the creative hump.

#16 – Consider an “Arena” Story. Larry explains how we can use the time, place or culture of a story as it’s main component.

#17 – Learn From Others Who Have Been Down This Road. Larry invites us to leave comments in order to share our own stories, tips, and advice on how to prepare, plot, or structure our novels. Some really great stuff here.

#18 – Don’t Confuse “Quirks” with Characterization. Larry urges us to go below the surface of our characters and really bring them to full color reality.

#19 – Center Yourself Within The Big Picture. Two of them, actually. Take a step back and really look at your concept. Do you know the ins and outs? Do you understand exactly what it’s going to take to turn it into a page turner?

#20 – To Edit or Not To Edit…. Know the difference not only between the right and wrong times to edit, but the right and wrong ways to edit! Yes, there are differences!

#21 – Still Struggling With Your Concept? First, know exactly what a concept is ~ it’s not just an idea. Next, Larry offers a fantastic approach to get our creative drives in gear.

#22 – Stare Down Your Limiting Beliefs. You cannot write well if your pride or ego are in the way. Get rid of those limiting beliefs ~ Larry explains how. 

#23 – Harness The Power of Resentment. It’s what separates the good from the great. Dig deep into your character and harness their motivation. Let them come alive on the page with visceral emotion.

#24 – Sharpen Your Hook. Whether it’s with your prologue or first chapter, grab your reader by the throat right from the beginning. But don’t squeeze…

#25 – A Strategy for Introducing Your Hero. Larry offers awesome insight in the myriad ways to introduce your hero/ine. And no, it doesn’t have to be on page one. On a side note, have you read his books? I’m just starting on BAIT AND SWITCH, and WOW. I’ve been thinking about the characters all day!

#26 – The Panster’s Solution to Story Planning. This is a “NoNoWriMo.” Here, Larry explains that it’s a definite no-no to sit down and write without a plan, but it is also unrealistic to think you need to have every single scene laid out and planned to the last detail before writing. Great tips and advice here!

#27 – How To Optimize Your Scenes. Larry shows us how we writers can ‘study and master’ the skills of story planning and scene writing.

Ok, we’re ‘coming down the home stretch’ as Larry says. T minus 5 days and counting to the big kick off. Puns intended :)

5 days…that’s plenty of time! We can do this!

Catch me over at New Kids On The Writer’s Block for the final up-to-date summary of Larry’s NaNoWriMo planning strategies. After that, you’re on your own! :)

So talk to me. Have you been keeping up with Larry Brooks’ planning tips? What do you think of them? Are you prepared? Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month ~ why or why not?

Your Health!

Welcome to Slàinte Sundays where I give a toast to those posts I enjoyed during the week.

Before we get to the link love, I wanted to let you all know I’m adjusting my blog schedule from three days a week to two days. With the family and day job schedules picking up, and NaNoWriMo looming, (not to mention the holidays are comin’ up hot) I have less and less time for my novel and blogging. I’ve made the decision to cut back on blogging, because, let’s face it, my novel is much more important! J

Anyhoo…For the time being, I will incorporate my Slàinte Sundays with my Rudan Thursdays. I truly enjoy sharing my cyber finds with all of you and am not willing to cut them. So while I won’t be able to share every week, there will still be plenty of link love goin’ around ;)

Ok, let’s get to it…

On craft…

Jenny Hansen shares Writing Lessons From The Late Great Stephen J. Cannell.

Kristen Lamb continues her series on Structure with Part 3 – Introducing the Opposition.

Jody Hedlund guest posts over at Jenny Hansen’s blog, talking about plot ideas and structure, very helpful with NaNoWriMo coming up.

Amber West has some great NaNoWriMo tips for all of those pantsers out there. Check this out.

On publishing…

Bob Mayer offers a tribute to the reader in his post, Readers Rule: The Ultimate Gatekeepers Publishing and The Rise of the Author.

Kait Nolan shares her Open Letter to Barnes & Noble about PubIt!

On motivation…

Jenny Hansen offers great tips on critique partners or groups via Dan Rockwell over at Leadership Freak. And I swear I’m not stalking Jenny, she just has so many awesome posts, how can I not share them?? ;)

Sonia Medeiros says ‘let there be blogs’ in her post on blogging and blog fatigue. Did she write this just for me?

Kristen Lamb reminds us to keep our heads in the game, and breathes new life into that blog fatigue by sharing boring statistical information on blogging and its benefits.

Lyn Midnight is a girl after my own heart in her guest post on spiraling out of control, over at David N. Walker’s blog. No, Lyn, you are most definitely not alone.

On networking and social media…

Jen Talty, via Bob Mayer’s blog, talks about the importance of branding.

Techy Tips

Carrie Spencer – finally! – shares much-needed information on ping backs, via her pal Woodie, cause he knows WordPress. I’ve been waiting for so long! ;p

Just for fun!

Shéa MacLeod shares creepy crawly stories in her post, The Queen of Fire and Darkness Meets the Scorpion King.

Jenny Hansen talks about her undies fetish, interest, um, ok, she’s talkin’ about g-strings people. You gotta go check it out.

Piper Bayard and Kristen Lamb need your help with campaign slogans. They’ve got awesome options to choose from, go cast your vote! Piper/Lamb 2012!

Natalie Hartford brings us the compliment to the tow-hitch stripper pole: The Tow Hitch TV!

Gene Lempp teaches us about the Ancient Silk Route in his latest post from Designing from Bones.

Marcia Richards tells a true story of ‘sweet revenge,’ a family’s quest for justice, and making a difference the American way. I got chills reading this. Amazing post!

Jess Witkins offers an interesting post on Sleep Paralysis. Pretty scary, actually. My husband has this happen sometimes.

To Jenny, Kristen, Jody, Amber, Bob, Kait, Sonia, Lyn, Jen, Carrie, Shéa, Piper, Natalie, Gene, Marcia, and Jess…

Slàinte…your health!