Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A reflection

I hope you've spent some time working on your newest piece of writing, getting the story down and playing with characters! The best way to become a writer is to write. There really are no shortcuts. You just have to put your rear end in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard (or take the pencil in hand) and write. Lots.

Yes, some of it will be garbage. But some of it will be gold. We all write a little of each. The trick is finding those nuggets in and among the dross.

Yet on occasion we forget the joy of writing, of creating whole stories out of nothing but our own imaginations. When writing becomes work, we wonder why we do it, what ill-conceived stupidity put in our heads that writing would be a great way to make a living.

I have a cure for just such occasions.

Below is a piece for your reflective writing journal. Copy the first four words and continue the sentence as you see fit. For many, a single sentence won't contain your thoughts and you'll need a paragraph. I encourage longer writings. Take your time and truly think about your answer.

When you've exhausted your thoughts on the first four words, move to the second set and do the same. Explore your own feelings about what you wrote in response to the first statement. Continue with the third and the fourth sections in the same manner.

I write because I....

            and that makes me feel....

                         so then I....

                                   which brings me to....

With any luck, by the time you have finished, you will have remembered your joy.

Play safe,

PS. Don't forget the tip!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The man I fell in love with...

For Christmas, my husband got me season two of Here Come the Brides. Now, those of you who have been long-time readers of the blog know Bobby Sherman was my first crush. Not only because he's cute, but he also embodies the qualities of a gentleman...and those of a gentle man. I fell for him hard. I've been watching the episodes and falling in love all over again. You can blame this post on my husband for giving me the DVDs and on Mr. Sherman for being, well, gorgeous.

My next major crush on a person I couldn't have had a similar appearance and a similar personality. Dark hair, dimples, kind hands, a gentle spirit and a love of music. And long hair. God, I love a man with long hair. And I'm not talking touch-the-collar long, but at least shoulder-length. Beautiful!

And then I met the man I fell truly in love with. Black hair, blue eyes, dimples...and he played the guitar! He was thoughtful, a ladies' man who loved to flirt. Like my second crush, he had curly long hair and like Mr. Sherman, had a gentle heart.

I'm not stupid. I married him.

And then I made him the basis for nearly all the male protagonists in my novels. Granted, some of my heroes have other real-life inspirations, but I always come back to the same general look: Tall, dark hair, blue eyes, dimples, and hair "long enough to run your fingers through."

Am I predictable? I suppose so. But as a famous person once said, "I know what I like," and another said, "Write what you know."

And I know a cute guy when I see him. Thanks, honey! I love ya much.

Although if you happen to see Mr. Sherman...you could send him my way... :)

Play safe,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are you here for the blog-hop from The Romance Reviews? Be sure to use the Purchasing Info tab at the top of the page to find your answer!

And if you're not here to answer Question #78, head on over to the Romance Reviews site and join in the fun! Lots of prizes to win - so what are you waiting for? Let's do the hop!

Hop safe!
Diana :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TIED TO HOME on sale

TIED TO HOME is now available at a1adultebooks - an online bookstore that caters to erotica. It's on sale there for $2.54 for the rest of the week, so if you don't have your copy yet, hurry over and get it while the price is low!

Play safe,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Location, location, location?

When I am home during the day (which is mostly only on weekends) and I sit down to write, this time of year I tend to sit stretched out on a small loveseat in front of our gas fireplace. It's warm, the blanket over my lap and the cat snuggled in on my feet (which he deigns to do only occasionally), makes for a very comfortable writing spot.

Unfortunately, this spot is also in the center of our house. The stairs from the upper floor come down one side of the fireplace and the entrance to the kitchen is on the other. As everyone rises for the day, they pass by and, of course, speak to me. They've gotten pretty good at not saying anything until I finish a sentence, but they still wish to say things like, "good morning" and "are you doing laundry today?"

Still, it's the warmest spot in the house and I can generally get in a few hours there before everyone else gets up (to be fair, my husband and I are usually out of bed at the same time, but his studio is on the second floor, so every time he comes down to grab a piece of toast, clean a brush, head to class...he does so past the the loveseat. At least I get a kiss from him most passes.)

Two quotes:
"I don't wait to be struck by lightning and I don't need certain slants of light to write." ~Toni Morrison

"A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper." ~ E.B. White

Ideal writing conditions don't exist. Most of my early work I wrote in the car as I waited for my daughter to finish a dance class or my son to get out of his basketball practices. In the winter I froze, in the summer I sweltered. Didn't matter. 

Me, the laptop and the story in my head. That's all I need. And all you need. 

So no more excuses about it being too noisy where you are, or that you only have a half an hour before the next shift in your running around. Location doesn't matter. The lighting doesn't matter. Noise doesn't matter. Go get yourself lost in your writing and WRITE!

...and leave a tip in the jar on your way out. :)


Saturday, January 19, 2013

My birthday

Today is my birthday and the best present anyone could buy me...would be to buy one of my books (hint, hint!).

Take care everyone. Play safe and have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who is your audience? Part One: determination

Bears are big. Bears are brown. Bears live in the woods.

The big, brown bear lived in the woods.

The ursine animal made his habitat in the flora of the forest.

Audience matters. The three sentences above all say the same thing yet the vocabulary for each is audience-specific. You can imagine a group of three-and-four-year olds sitting around a storyteller in the first example, a primary reader in the second -- and a freshman in high school trying to impress his teacher in the third. :)

We could also change our audience by changing the sentence structure. Try rewriting the above putting the prepositional phrase first, or starting with the verb. Our traditional grammatical structure (noun, verb, everything else) has infinite varieties.

Caveat: not all changes in sentence structure are good, but that's next week's blog post. My point this week is only that it can be done, not that it should be!

(Sidenote: In preparation for this workshop, I used an online dictionary to find synonyms for the word "bear" - as in the animal. What I found surprised me. There are only a few instances of the word being used as a noun: the animal is one, a grouch is another and a police officer is a third. Yet there are several dozen verb uses and half again as many adjective choices. English apparently latches onto the sound of a particular word and likes it so much, it reuses it over and over instead of making up new ones. No wonder non-native speakers get confused!)

So who is your audience? Are your readers young? Middle-aged? Old? Male? Female? Who is reading your books? Where are they located? Do they live in your country or do you have an international audience?

Some of that information you can get from your website stats (location, at least). But often, we never know who is actually picking up our books and reading them. I have about a 75-25 split female-to-male ratio if you look at those who have signed up for my newsletter, another set of data that can be used to gain information about my readership.

If you publish with a publisher, they can often tell you, in general terms, the type of person buying your books from the feedback they get and the information they take at the point of sale.

And of course, you might also have an idea in your head - a stereotypical reader you're telling your story to. As you write, who are you gearing your story towards? Those writing young adult novels have a very different picture in their heads than someone writing suspense or an author writing erotic romance.

That's not to say the audiences don't cross over -- they do! Readers are often eclectic in their tastes. However, we each have a target audience in our heads - and they're the ones we're writing the story for.


So, who is your audience? Today's activity has three parts:

Part One - write a brief description of your target reader. Who do you see buying your books? How do they purchase them (ebook or print?). Be as thorough as you can.

Part Two - collect the demographic information available. Put a data collector on your website (I use Stat Counter in addition to the stats Blogger gives me; each gives me valuable information). If you have a newsletter, go through your list of subscribers. That's your core audience right there. And last, ask your publisher who buys your books. They may be only able to give you a general idea, but it'll add to your picture.

Part Three - Remember, you are a reflective writer. Once you have all that information, review it. Does the info you gathered in Part Two of this activity match with your mental picture in Part One? Take some time and write about it as you reconcile the two.

Play safe!

Don't forget the tip :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blogging at the Scribes!

I'm over at the Scribes today and I'm looking for some reading suggestions! Head on over and give me a few!

And if you're in the Northeast of North America...enjoy the beautiful January thaw. :)

Play safe,

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Writing resolutions

Happy New Year to you all! It's a good year for writing and I have a few resolutions for you to consider as you start a new year of writing. In no particular order...

...keep a word-count diary. Each day, write down somewhere the total number of words you write on either a manuscript, a blog...something creative. Grocery lists and emails don't count! :) You can either use a spreadsheet program like Excel to keep track or simply write the number on the calendar next to your desk. I have a friend who does the former and I do the latter - both work. Set a yearly goal for yourself and keep the big picture in mind. Most of us can't write every day, or choose not to. My goal this year (based on a non-calendar yearly count) is 250,000 words. In that number I include not only what I write and publish, but what I write and set aside, what I write for this blog and what I write for the Scribes' blog.

...publish something. Short story, novella, that full-length novel you've been working on for the past year? Whatever it is, get it out to the public. Whether you choose a traditional publisher, a small press or self-publishing...publish! Make this the year!

...take time to "sharpen the saw". Learn something new, go somewhere you've never been, take time to walk through the park. Do SOMETHING to get away from whatever you're working on and keep your mind fresh.

...read. Read lots. Read everything. Newspapers, political cartoons, other books in your genre, books NOT in your genre. By reading other's work we learn more about language and how it works (or doesn't work - the bad books sometimes teach us better than the best ones). Even if you only have a few minutes to read a quick article from a magazine in a doctor's office - read!

...above all else, hug your family and friends and tell them how much you enjoy their company. This holiday season has reinforced that in a very gruesome way. They put up with you going off into your own little world as you write, be sure to thank them for understanding that you often listen with only half an ear and you love them for loving you anyway. :)

Have a great year this year!
Play safe,

PS. And thanks for the tips... :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I'm reading...

I have been very remiss in keeping track of what I read. The best year I did was the year I made myself accountable to you, my readers.

As a result, I'm using you again this year in an effort to keep track of all the books I read throughout the calendar year. What I post are not reviews, per se, but rather just some gut reactions to the book. All posts will be tagged "book thoughts." You can also use that tag in the list in the sidebar to find past postings on what I've read.

Feel free to add your comments about the books if you desire!

Now, I'm not a vampire lover (barely made it through the Twilight series and only because a friend insisted) and I definitely do not do zombies. But I am a Shakespeare lover and put him at the top of my all-time favorite authors. How could I resist a book called Shakespeare Undead? It's written by Lori Handeland and I found it to be a cute story. Like Shakespeare in Love there are some historical errors, but I was willing to overlook them since, in this book, Will Shakespeare is a vampire. Historical inaccuracies pale in comparison.

General impression? Cute story, kept me interested even if it didn't take but an afternoon to read. More for the teen-lit crowd, but hey, when has that ever stopped me?

So, two days into the new year, one book already read. For Christmas this year, I told my children (I have two and they're both in their early 20's) that they should get me something they think I should read. Gave them no more direction than that, curious as to what they'd come up with.

My son bought me a boxed set of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, knowing I like fantasy. My daughter bought me two first books of two different series, figuring I could start both series and then continue with the one I liked best (knowing me, I'll probably like them both). So I'm looking forward to starting Mystic Warrior by Tracy and Laura Hickman and Shadowmarch by Tad Williams.

My husband, not to be outdone, bought me Star Trek: Destiny by David Mack. It's a collection of three ST novels in one volume. I told you I'm an eclectic reader! You can look forward to my thoughts on all these books in the next few months.

(I'm trying not to start any of them now because I really want to finish writing Under His Spell, a new novel coming out under my Mystic Shade nom de plume. I only have about another 10,000 words to write and it's done!)

Play safe - and remember, the writing workshops start up again on January 8th.

(edited to add Shakespeare in Love link)