The most wonderful thing has happened, the thing I always wanted, and I’m in here under the covers hiding from the book launch day for my first novel, The Renaissance Club. It was published on January 23 by Fiery Seas Publishing, a wonderful new publishing company. Your book launch may not be as scary as mine, but probably it will be. You might find yourself hiding like I am because after all the effort to write and rewrite a book, suffer rejections from agents and publishers, finally find a publisher who finally sends it out in the world, you just have too much wrapped up in this thing. All I’m thinking right now is how can I survive the attention?
In Places That Verb Your World- Around the World in Books, I’m going to create a series of posts about novels and nonfiction books that take you traveling. Armchair traveling is one of my favorite ways to travel around the world. I’m not much good on an airliner these days, unless in First Class, and so I do a lot of my traveling via books. I have my longtime favorites and my new favorites, which I’ll list in this series of posts.
Travel Books I Love – Durell’s Books
Lawrence Durrell’s two classic memoirs, Bitter Lemons and Reflectionls on a Marine Venus are nothing less than exquisite love letters to places. They contain some of the most beautiful descriptions of places I’ve ever read, gorgeous prose that made me want to be a write when I read them in my early twenties.
Happy 2018! What are your new year’s writing goals? Someone in one of my writers groups asked me, while wishing me a happy 2018. I was shocked to realize I don’t have many. My debut novel launches on January 23 — The Renaissance Club, my time-travel love story, available now on Amazon for pre-order. I have a poetry collection coming out in August — Arabesque, from FutureCycle Press. And I’m finishing the last revision before querying agents and publishers of my new novel, The Romantics. Plus I’m writing a new musical play.
For me, 2018 seems to be all about finishing up big projects and sending them off to sail in wider waters, with new readership and audiences. Do you have a book making its debut in 2018? Maybe your writing goals revolve around book marketing — blogging, doing interviews, giving readings, offering giveaways. These all require a lot of writing. But my big 2018 writing goal is to start writing a new novel.
Would you give up everything, even the time in which you live, to be with your soul mate?
That’s the question my main character, May Gold, has to ask herself when her adventures in Italy in The Renaissance Club bring her face-to-face with her idol, 17th century genius sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. She has always admired — maybe more than admired — the fiery, expressive artist who could make marble come alive. What would you do if you could meet the historical person you most admire?
Click the link below to get a preview:
I’m thrilled to share that you can pre-order it, in either ebook or paperback, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Delivery date will be the official release: January 23. If you grab a copy now, you’ll do a sort of time-traveling yourself, having it in your hands in January, when it releases. You can congratulate your past self for giving you a New Year’s present! Perfect for a cozy read during winter nights.
It was the best of days, it was the worst of days on Day 10 of National Novel Writing Month. Because I wrote for an hour first thing, it was the best. But actually, mostly it was the worst of days. Consider having:
- Your heating installed over a 3-day period of mistakes, confusion, and changing personnel.
- Three of your 4 website disappearing for no reason — all paid for and not hacked.
- The world’s stiffest neck from writing all week.
And yet, I wrote. And so am happy. What is it that makes writers have to write to achieve the peculiar bliss we know in our imaginative worlds? What makes you write? I’m almost sure most of you reading this do write. Please let me know in the comments what propels you to do this crazy cantilevering out into the unknown that is the act of creating something.
And Yet, I Wrote – Day 10 of National Novel Writing Month
I committed my month of November to #NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately called by its participants. My goal is to revise a (mostly) complete draft of a new novel, The Ro30-daymantics. I knew from last year’s writing marathon that forcing myself to write every day is a little like forcing myself to have cherry pie every day. There are days when I’d rather not — but most days, I’d definitely rather.
On Day 8 of #NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — I’m still fulfilling my commitment to spend two hours every day working on my new novel, The Romantics. NaNoWriMo is a marathon, an endurance test for writers. The official goal of participating is to draft a new novel of at least 50,000 words. Yes, 50,000 words. That divides up into more than 1,600 words a day. Remember having to write essays in school? This is an essay every single day.
My self-determined goal is not to count words this time, but hours, in order to finish last year’s NaNoWriMo creation.ehemoth of a story that needs to be tamed. As you can imagine, it sags in the middle. No, actually, it gets amnesia in the middle — why did I take a day trip to Portofino, and what is that castle doing in my story, and just how is it going to improve my terrible relationship with my only sister?
My primary way is to write for two hours first thing every morning. Just showing up — or #buttinchair as some call it — is my way of courting my muse. I can only hope by just showing up, the muse will really steer me and help me kill my (pointless) darlings to get that middle as lean as if it had been doing 50 situps every day in those two hours.
5 Ways to Make Your Daily Goal — Word- or Hour-Count
If you’re doing a #NaNoWriMo project this year, you may, like me, need some ideas to keep going, especially as we head toward the middle of the month. Here are 6 tools and writing tip for keeping at it:
Preparing for National Novel Writing Month can be hard if you’re allergic to plot outlines. And with any method, it’s a steep climb to write 50,000 words in a month. But if you have the urge to join the 34,000 people who last year completed a novel in 30 days, and your pen is poised over the paper (=your fingers poised on the keys), here are some tips.
Thanks to Editor Barbara Bos and Women Writers, Women’s Books for featuring my article today on how to prepare, without resorting to the dreaded outline and index cards (does anybody still sell index cards?).
Preparing for National Novel Writing Month without an outline?
It might be a breeze if you approach it a little differently. Here are some ways to prepare.
- Set a daily writing schedule. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. This year, instead of 50K words, I set my goal as 2 hours of daily writing.
- Write your hook (also known as short pitch). Yes, I know that’s the hard part, but if you can write a good one, it will carry you.
- Write one character’s problem and goal each day. Include that in your word count.
- Research your setting and count the notes in your daily word count. Place it somewhere in your manuscript, or if you keep a manuscript in chapter files, make a file for research notes. Every time you add to that, count it in your word count.
Remember: it’s your imagination, and it’s endless. It may feel like a steep hill to climb, but they’re just words and they can all be changed.
Are you tempted to jump in? If so, good luck! And let me know how it’s going. What’s your pitch or book title? Please share in the comments during November.
Ways to Plot a Novel
Working on a plot outline so you can plunge into your next big creative project, or getting ready to jump into National Novel Writing Month — could you use at least 10 ways to plot a novel? I have a list of articles for you. Actually, it’s a lot more than 10 ways.
Writers in the Storm has an excellent article on different ways to plot your story. From a basic framework, such as Martha Alderson’s Plot Planner, to Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method, this article has lots of ideas for you, even if you’re a freewrite kind of novelist.
Plot Bunny Method
Then there’s my favorite The Plot Bunny Method. Step one is to have an idea that won’t let go. Step two is to write it down. Sounds simple? I did that after spending seven years in the torturous process of learning what a plot is and turning my plot bunny into a full-fledged novel, then testing it on beta readers, agents, and editors. (The Renaissance Club is forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing). The second time I did it the other way around. I developed a plot bunny and immediately tested it on agents who were complimenting my pitch but regretfully making an exit. Here’s my plot bunny, just as I first wrote it:
The Romantics is the story of two half-sisters who clash over inheriting a cottage on the Ligurian coast of Italy, along with its resident ghost, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Every single agent and editor said they wanted to read that book! So I went for developing the plot bunny, only I didn’t outline. I proceeded to Step Two. Determine an element that interests you. That was easy. It was the complicated relationship between siblings. I was newly mourning the death of my beloved brother, my only sibling, and thinking about just what such a connection with another human being is worth in your life. That was what I wanted to explore in my plot.
Theory Behind What Makes a Plot Good
At that moment in time, I happened upon a book every fiction writer should read: Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I think that was the first time I actually understood in an analytical way what makes a story fascinating: the working out of how to solve a problem the protagonist carries within herself or himself. It’s the human story — how we overcome our foibles to achieve our successes.
So those are my 10 ways to plot a novel. But I’m not a born outliner. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, or what’s known in fiction writing circles as a “pantser”. I follow the Plot Bunny Method, only I never knew it was actually a method. For you pantsers dipping toes in the outline water, I leave you with Sigrid Nunez’s Panster Anthem.
I’ve decided to launch from my Rocket Kid Writing blog into a newly titled blog, which will be integrated with my new website (stay tuned!) as The Writing Path.
It’s not an easy path, involves some hard pulling at times, some days of feeling lost in the woods, but for me, it’s a compelling path of self-discovery. I have to keep going forward. And though it often feels solitary, I’m surrounded by writer friends, whether we connect in person over a cup of tea or coffee, or on Facebook, Twitter, or through the marvelous nonprofit organization for writers of women’s fiction, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
Two great things I did for my writer self last year: draft a (nearly) complete novel during National Novel Writing Month, and join the WFWA, where I’ve met and learned from many wonderful novelists. More
One obvious way to find good writing podcasts is to go to the major magazines and papers. They all have writing and reading related podcasts.
But I want to hear from people like me, novelists in the trenches of a first or second book, writers suffering through querying, plotting, character development, point-of-view decisions. Authors working to publicize their indie books or books out from smaller book publishers. I want to know how they’re doing it, how they keep on doing it, and what new ideas are out there for me. More