Friday Writing Inspiration

~ By Melina Kantor  So it's just about Week 3 of NaNoWriMo. Anyone else feel like this?

Anyway, I came across this NaNo pep talk, and even if you're not doing NaNo, it's good inspiration:

One more thought:

"Be like Mae West, brash and bold and brave." ~ Anne Stuart

Have a great weekend.

Write on, everyone! :-)

Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. She just returned from a two month trip to Crete and Israel, where she visited  family and friends did her best to turn her travels into research and inspiration for her writing. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

Live From a Write-In!

~ By Melina Kantor On Sunday, I went to a fabulous NaNoWriMo write-in, and, just for fun, asked fellow Wrimos to share some of their thoughts about NaNoWriMo.  

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I want to see if I’m capable of writing 50,000 words. And even if I’m not, whatever I write this month is more than I would write otherwise. ~ Anonymous
 
Write-ins are good for commiserating and getting support, egging each other on, and doing sprints. They can be helpful to push people to reach their goals. Write-ins in New York are full of awesome people. It’s great to meet other writers and chat about your writing. ~ Erin O’Brien, NYC Municipal Liaison
 
Come out. Come meet other writers.  You can find a cheerleader or a nemesis. The first NaNo I won was the first NaNo I went to a write-in. I take it as a sign that I haven’t lost since. ~ Marsha August
 
NaNoWriMo is more about the community than the writing.  I meet amazing, inspiring, people every November, and have learned so much from the experience. ~ Alexis Daria, NYC Municipal Liaison
 
NaNoWriMo is a great way to get a first draft, and it’s never perfect, you always needs a second draft no matter how wonderful a writer you are. Writing a whole novel is so daunting, but if you write a novel quickly, it’s not as daunting anymore. And revision is December’s problem. ~ Erika (who reached 50K at the write-in on 11/13!)

The point is, even if you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo, it’s still very worth finding a writing community. It makes a world of difference. Write on! :-) Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. She just returned from a two month trip to Crete and Israel, where she visited  family and friends did her best to turn her travels into research and inspiration for her writing. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

Revisions are Done. . .

~ Nan Reinhardt  …maybe. So here’s the weird part about being a writer, well one of the weird parts. I’m never done. I buttoned up the revisions on the first novel last night, dealt with my crit partner’s comments and edits and worked out the parts that still needed tweaking. When I was done, I put all the chapters together into a manuscript file and saved it. Then I sent it to my Kindle so I could read it again in book form. Six pages into Chapter 1, I found a POV (Point of View) glitch that neither of us caught. Um…probably a safe bet that my heroine is not going to think about the color of her own eyes when she’s fighting tears. My critique partner will tell you that I have issues with POV–mostly when I get caught up in dialogue. I’m telling the story, creating the conversations between my characters, and I lose track of the fact that the hero doesn’t think of his own shoulders as brawny and the heroine doesn’t realize her own skin is touchable. POV was a new concept to me, in spite of the fact that I’ve been writing for years. It never occurred to me that I needed to stay in the head of the person who was guiding the scene. Another term I’ve learned is “head-hopping,” which means going from one character’s thoughts to another’s in the same scene. Not a good thing unless you’re already an established author and have published numerous titles. Then you can probably get away with it because we already love you and we’ll read anything at all you write, even if you break the rules. I’m not sure how to define my writing style–except that I’m a story teller and I can get very sappy, which in the romance world is not particularly a bad thing. I’m working on my tendency to overuse adverbs, since my partner has threatened more than once to come and rip the “l” and “y” keys off my keyboard. Another thing is that I write with a lot of emotion, but I have hard time writing anger, I think because I have a hard time being angry. I’m not good at it. My biggest problem is that I’m not only a writer; I’m also an editor–that’s how I make my living. And I edit nonfiction–a lot of college textbooks–so the language is completely different from the language I use to write my novels. But the editor kicks in occasionally. For example, the use of “bad” versus “badly,” as in “He wanted her so badly, it hurt.” Now, editor Nan fixed this to read, “He wanted her so bad it hurt.” Here’s why. “Badly” is an adverb that describes the action, so the sentence as is tells me (editor Nan) that the guy is doing a poor job of wanting her. “Bad,” on the other hand is an adjective that describes the level of his feeling–he wants her a lot. So, logically, well, grammatically, that’s correct. But, that’s not how we talk. Most people would say “badly.” “I feel badly for him.” or “She wanted him so badly…” You get the picture. If you read the words aloud–something I’m learning to do as I write–“badly” just flows better. Maybe not to my editorial ear, but to most reader’s ears, it would. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and probably again and again. Writing is learning. If I stop learning, my writing stops improving. And I always want to be the best writer I can be. Nan Reinhardt is a romance writer. She’s also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and grandmother to one aging bunny and a golden retriever named, Lily. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last fifteen years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. But writing is her first and most enduring passion. She has completed two novels and they are currently with her agent, Maureen Walters, of Curtis Brown Literary Agency in New York. Like Jo March (Little Women), she writes late at night in her upstairs garret, after the editing gig work is finished for the day and her household is asleep.

Refilling the Creative Well

~ By Cynthia Thorp  You hear a lot in writing circles about refilling the creative well.  It can be as simple as watching a movie or catching the latest episode of “Dancing with the Stars” or listening to music.  I do all of  that, of course I usually have some crafting project on my lap as well.  I’ve been crafting just a little longer than I have been writing and I started writing when I was 11.  I remember making clothes for my Barbie dolls from plastic templates my Aunt Carole made for me, it was certainly cheaper than buying clothes for the dolls.  It’s also an example of my “go for it” attitude toward crafting and writing.  I mean have you ever really looked at the circumference of a sleeve on a Barbie jacket?  Didn’t stop me from making a couple, I was about 8 at the time and I didn’t even understand that it might be hard. They weren’t going to win any fashion awards but it was a way to spend a rainy or snowy afternoon. One of my first knitting projects as an adult was a fair isle sweater.  I really hope it held up for whoever ended up with it.  My fiber allergy made it impossible for me to wear it.  Well that and the fact that I knit so tight it was actually a size smaller than intended.  Knitting to gauge, never crossed my mind.  Rarely does today either, which probably explains why all my socks are now just a little too big.  Yes my knitting has gone from one extreme to the other and somehow that doesn’t surprise me in the least. My first quilt was one with curved seams and open bias edges.  I didn’t really follow the directions to understand that the curved edges of each piece needed to be on the bias so it would stretch when you sew it.  Okay so that’s one less I have learned.  You gotta follow directions every once and a while.  The bulk of my crafting is in the making of quilts and I’ve tackled some quilts that most have on their dreamy “someday maybe” list.  I’ve followed the same theory here as I do with everything, I just go for it.  If I fail at least I failed in the trying.  Actually can you fail at something you don’t try? My crafting today is a way for me to quiet my mind enough to let ideas percolate.  In most cases whatever I’m working on craft wise, whether I’m sewing/quilting or knitting/crocheting it doesn’t require my complete attention so while my hands work away my mind drifts off and  plots.  There’s a comfort in working a sewing needle through fabric and feeling the warmth and softness of the fibers, something nearly meditative about the whole process and about as close as I’ll ever come to meditating.  I hear to meditate one has to sit still, sounds a little like torture to me. I’ve noticed recently, as I’ve taught myself new craft techniques (anything involving a sewing machine is new) that at some point I just do it.  Doesn’t matter how scary it may seem at the moment, it’s usually easier than I think it will be and much more rewarding in the end.  I’m taking that same attitude with my writing.  I’ve had a scathingly brilliant idea that I have no intention of sharing yet (yup I’m being a tease) but this idea is one I have to earn.  That idea is what pushed me back on the writing horse (I had a very bad year last year) and has me running, galloping, whatever (yeah I’m great at mixing metaphors) with new enthusiasm for storytelling. Cynthia lives in a magical cottage in Western New York where from her "office" window she can see roses and chipmunks and birds a plenty.  If she's lucky one of the neighborhood bunnies will stop by and if she's really lucky she'll spot a hummingbird amongst the sweet peas.  When she's not writing contemporary romances she's dreaming of warm sunlight beaches, especially around January when she hasn't seen grass in 2 months and it will be another 2 before it reappears.

Revisions and Revelations

Nan Reinhardt I’m a romance writer—as yet unpublished—and I just finished working on revisions to my first novel. My critique partner and I have gotten through all twenty-seven chapters and ironically, there are more things to fix/revise that either of us imagined. Not dramatically changing the story line at all, but rather tightening up language, creating more tension between my characters, just making it better. What I’m learning about my writing is that I may not actually be a straight category romance writer. I thought that was what I wrote, but I don’t think it is. I think I’m simply a story teller. My writing doesn’t fit in a specific genre, except perhaps maybe women’s fiction. I don’t seem to be able to write to a template or formula–I thought I was doing that, but I’m not. I’ve read tons of category romance and when I started the first book, I believed I was writing category with my own personal touch. I’ve been discouraged because category pubs aren’t accepting my work, but I’m beginning to see that maybe I’m not the writer for that particular genre of fiction. In a way, that makes me sad because I love category–I’m a huge fan and it made sense to me that if I love to read it, I should be able to write it. But, I can’t stay in the mold–no news there. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I haven’t fit a mold since I was born. I’ll keep writing what I write, the stories of the people in my head. These folks knock loudly, anxious to be out of my head and on paper where they believe they belong. Hopefully, my dear agent and I can figure out where their stories will be published. Hold a good thought, mes amies, and when we do find my publisher, check the Midwestern skies for the biggest fireworks display you’ve ever seen! Nan Reinhardt is a romance writer. She’s also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and grandmother to one aging bunny and a golden retriever named, Lily. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last fifteen years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. But writing is her first and most enduring passion. She has completed two novels and they are currently with her agent, Maureen Walters, of Curtis Brown Literary Agency in New York. Like Jo March (Little Women), she writes late at night in her upstairs garret, after the editing gig work is finished for the day and her household is asleep.

Unusual Sources of Inspiration

~ By Meredith Schorr To date, I’ve written two novels, one published, one in revisions, both fiction.   While both stories are make-believe, some of the characters, events, conversations etc. were inspired by true life events.  For instance, my relationship with my mother, the dynamic between two or more friends, my own dating experiences and those of my friends, work environment etc.  In my mind’s eye while writing my first novel, I didn’t picture famous people as the characters, but rather real people I’ve known.  Except instead of reenacting true events through my writing, the words the characters spoke and the actions they took were created in my head.  I think in my own way, I wrote my first book to get resolution on a few of my own relationships.  While writing it, I had different experiences with dating that inspired the plot of my second book, but it took on a life of its own pretty quickly.  And then I was stumped.  No inspiration for a third book whatsoever.  Until last night. I had a dream, rather a nightmare, that woke me from my sleep and in tears.  The kind of nightmare that kept me up for a good hour, afraid to lose consciousness and return to the alternate universe waiting for me in my REM sleep.  Part of me also had trouble letting go of what happened in the nightmare and truly believing it wasn’t real.  Unlike my recurring dream about forgetting to go to my college classes all semester before the final or being chased by monsters, the tragic event which took place in my dream could, God forbid, actually happen.  Except that a portion of the dream also dabbled in the paranormal and I was struck with an idea for a book.  I jumped out of bed and only half-awake, jotted down the dream on a piece of paper and went back to sleep, still somewhat sick over the nightmare, but also excited about what could possibly be the plot of my third novel.  When I woke up this morning, I read my notes and, even in the light of day with cup of a coffee in my system, I think I might be onto something. Inspiration often comes unexpectedly and under strange circumstances and while I pray I never have that particular dream again, or anything close to it, I’m grateful for the muse.  If you are a writer or creative type yourself and care to share some of your own sources of inspiration, I’d welcome a comment :) Meredith Schorr is the author of Just Friends With Benefits, a humorous women’s fiction novel. She lives in New York City and works as a trademark paralegal at a prestigious law firm. In addition to writing humorous women’s fiction novels, her passions include running, spending time with friends and family and rooting for the New York Yankees. Meredith is a member of Romance Writers of America and Chick Lit Writers of The World.

Inspiration from Maeve Binchy

~ By Melina Kantor Hello All, Well, let me guess. Most of you are freezing. It's the middle of the week. You're tired. So, we're bringing you a bit of inspiration, from the legendary Maeve Binchy, who's been called "The Mother of all Chick Lit." Listen closely. She sneaks in a opinion on the "chick lit" label there's been so much talk about. We certainly do have an incredible group of Irish women writers to thank for helping establish the genre. And don't you just love her definition of success? She's so right. I adored the image of our individual successes building onto everyone else's. We're all in this together! Stay warm, and happy writing! Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

Writing Goals for 2011

Hello Chick Lit Writers! Happy 2011! We here at the blog thought it might be fun to start the year off by setting some writing goals. Fun, right? And the best part is, by sharing our goals we can help each other keep them. And hey, the only way we're going to prove that chick lit is SO not dead is to keep writing it, and writing it well. So here it goes. Take our poll, and then leave a comment and elaborate on your answer. Here's to a wonderful year full of wonderful writing! P.S. Did you know that you can follow us on Twitter? P.P.S. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what types of posts you'd like to see on the blog over the coming year.

To be me? Or not to be me?

That was the question.

~ By Jayne Ormerod Picture this:  A family dinner with my active-duty-military husband and twelve-year-old son, sitting on the back deck enjoying the gentle summer breeze.  I’d prepared a meal of spicy shrimp scampi and Italian bread smothered with melted cheese, green onions and poppy seeds.  After a glass (or three) of a spunky Pinot Grigio, I worked up enough courage to confess my lifelong secret.  The conversation went something like this: Me:  “I want to be a writer.” Them:  “That’s great.” Me:  “Actually, I’ve been writing for a few years now.” Them:  Gentle murmurings of encouragement. Me:  “My first short story will be published next month.” They offer a celebratory toast. Husband:  “What’s the story about?” Me:  “It’s a romance called ‘Three Little Words’.” Silence.  Stillness. Even the no-see-ums stopped humming. Son:  “You write porn?” Husband:  “It wouldn’t be good for my career to be married to someone who writes porn.” Me:  “For gawd’s sake, people.  Romance is about two people falling in love, not what happens between the sheets.” Husband: “Don’t embarrass me.” Freaked-out son:  “Will we be moving anytime soon?  Maybe Andrew’s family can adopt me…” I sipped my wine while they worked out how to disassociate themselves from me.  It soon became apparent the best solution for all concerned would be for me to choose a nom de plume. You’d think selecting a writing alias would be easy, one might even think fun.  But it’s not like a ordering a Pajama-gram, where one size fits all, and only people closest to you are going to see you in it.  A published name is going to be out there, in 48-point font (hopefully) above the title (one can dream).  It’s a forever and ever, amen, brand.  Oh, the pressure!  It’s enough to send a teetotalist reaching for the Shiraz! As a woman of the 21st century, I know when I have questions, Google has answers.  I found a formula for coming up with a new name (okay, so it’s how to come up with your Porn Star name, but it should work just as well to come up with my porn writing—I mean romance writing—moniker).  Here’s how it works: you take the name of your childhood pet as a first name, and the street you lived on as a child for the last name.  (Go ahead and try it out for yourself.  I’ll wait….)  This would make me Punchy Miles. Hmmm. that doesn’t invoke images of a voluptuous, tassel-spinning pole dancer, let alone a name that would look good on the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. Time to hit the reference books.  Digging the old four-inch thick White Pages (currently propping up a chair whose leg broke in a move) and my writer’s reference of The Very Best Baby Name Book, I thumbed through those tomes as if they were Godiva Chocolate catalogs, mixing, matching and melding different combinations of first and last names in search of the perfect pseudonym.  I even practiced “autographs” to see which lent itself to my handwriting style.  I worked on this for months, putting more thought and effort into it than I had to writing a full-length novel.  But no combination had the right balance of “me” and “not me” I was looking for. Then while romping in the leaves with my two pound puppies one day, I had an epiphany.  My middle name, Jo, had been selected because it was the initials of my mother’s maiden name, Jayne Ormerod.  She’d lost her life to pancreatic cancer 20 years ago, but I still felt her presence, especially when I wrote.  It’s like JO is a secret code for me, and yet nobody would ever know.  I finally had my nom de plume. Except when “the call” came in about publishing my first book, I wanted the world to know.  So now I tell everyone my pen name.  And then I spell it for them, because it’s a rather unusual last name. And then I hand them business cards and ask them to tell their friends.  And here I am blogging my secret to hundreds of strangers.  But since my books are more mystery than romance--with nary a hint of porn--my family is happy.  Might I even say, proud? The only problem with revealing my secret identity is I’m currently noodle-ing around an idea for a cozy mystery involving Navy spouses, specifically Admiral’s wives.  I will have to disassociate myself from my husband’s name if that ever comes to fruition.  But when you see a bestseller by Punchy Miles on the shelf, you’ll know who wrote it.  Just don’t tell anyone, please…it’ll be our little secret. Sarah/Jayne has moved 18 times in 27 years in conjunction with her husband’s Naval career, so gave up her job as a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy job, but a Certified Internal Auditor) and turned to something more transportable, writing.  Her first chicklit mystery, The Blond Leading the Blond, will be published by Avalon Books in the fall of 2011.  The sequel, Blonde Luck, is a finalist in the 2010  Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest, ChickThrill category. Visit her blog at http://jayneormerod.blogspot.com.