Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The End is Near, by Natalie Charles

Unless you've been living in your writing cave for the past year, you've probably heard that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21. What this means, exactly, is up for debate, although some have speculated the end of the Mayan calendar signifies the end of the world.

2012: The Year of the Mayan Buzzkill
If so, that's disappointing. My book is out in single form in April, 2013, and there are other things I'm looking forward to. But since we're nearing the end of our own calendar on December 31, and since the end of the year is generally seen as an appropriate time for reflection, I thought I'd ask: if the world was going to end on December 21, what would you do with the next few weeks?

First thing I'd do? Quit my day job, no question. (No offense Day Job). I'd then book a vacation for my family to Paris, where we'd gorge on croissants, chocolates and wine (and cheese and bread and...). Cholesterol be damned. Then maybe off to somewhere warm and impractical, like Fiji. I'd read lots of books and spend time with the people I love rather than spending time on the various obligations that comprise my day. You know what else I'd do if the end was near? I'd stop worrying about things like deadlines and writing schedules. I'd stop living life from one task to the next and I'd start living for the moment. In short, I'd rediscover my passion.

I started thinking about this because some recent health issues have knocked me off my writing schedule. I am behind on my book, which is No Big Deal in the legal sense since I'm not under contract, but it's a Big Frigging Deal to Type-A me. I can't do much about it, but it still knots me up. Thinking about the end of the world makes me see how my perspective has gone askew. In the name of being disciplined, I've lost track of some of the passion that got me writing in the first place. If I'm wracked with guilt because I'm a couple weeks off my intended writing goal due to a legitimate setback, I'm doing something wrong. Guilt in small doses is okay, but I should mostly write because I want to write.

I don't actually think the world will end on December 21, but since we never know how much time we have left, I'm going to make an effort to ditch some of the self-imposed drudgery. Maybe I can't quit my day job just yet, and maybe Fiji is out for a while still, but I can examine why writing has been feeling more like an obligation than a joy, and I can fix that. Maybe it's time to reduce my daily word count for a spell, or to take a few days to curl up with a great book that will inspire me to put my own words on paper. It's only November, but it's never too early for a resolution.

So how about you? If the end was near, what would you do?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Scarlet Wilson is in the Hot Seat!!!

Scarlet, welcome to the Hot Pink Typewriter! We’re thrilled to have you. Congratulations on your latest book, Her Christmas Eve Diamond,” which is available this month via Harlequin Medicals.

An unforgettable Christmas!
Nurse Cassidy Rae is a stickler for rules, but even she revels in the magic of Christmas! Unlike new Registrar Brad Donovan, who hates Christmas. With his surfer-boy looks and cocky charm, he's severely testing Cassidy's goodwill to all men. But in the festive season miracles can happen—and Brad’s about to give Cassidy a Yuletide to remember…
You can find a copy at the following locations:
Wow, sounds great. I can’t wait to read it! What could be better than a holiday romance? Not a thing I can think of. J
Today’s Medicals are nothing like those in years past. Would mind telling everyone how today’s Medicals differ?
In years gone by medicals were very traditional doctor-nurse romances.  These still exist today but more often today the woman has an equal role to the male.  Today’s heroines are very feisty and just as determined as their male counterparts.  Medical romances also feature some less traditional occupations – vets, male-female police/firefighter and ambulance personnel. 
Would you mind sharing a little about your book? What was your inspiration?
This book is set in Glasgow, the nearest city to me.  There are a lot of Christmas traditions in Glasgow and most of them have made their way into the book – the ice rink and international market at George Square, the lighting up of the tree.  Lots of Scottish words and a little unhealthy Scottish food has also managed to find their way into this book!
Doing the research involved with writing a Medical must be time consuming, can you share with us how you balance your writing with the rest of your life? Do you have a regular schedule? Any quirks?
Most of the medical stuff isn’t too onerous.  I still work in the NHS in Scotland and just ask one of my colleagues if I’m covering a procedure I haven’t come across myself.  I write 1000 words every day, no matter what else is going on. I have to be quite disciplined as I still work full time and have two young kids who have something going on every night of the week!
For you, what is the most challenging part of writing a book? Beginnings? Middles? Ends? How do you conquer these problem areas?
I absolutely love beginnings and always know how the book will start and how the book will finish.  How I will get there is a mystery even to me!  I just write and see where it takes me! 
How important do you feel social media is to an author’s career? Any tips on what to do and not to do for those of us new to social media?
I am officially rubbish at social media.  I have a website, a blog, a Facebook author page and a twitter account.  I can’t use any of these things during office hours as I’m at work and when I get time at night the most important thing for me to do is write.  I try to prioritise by telling myself that there’s nothing more important than the next book.  I’m also one of the editors of Pink Heart blog and have a monthly column there.  That takes up a little bit of time and I try to be careful about managing my time carefully.
The big thing authors hear these days is self-promotion, especially for newbies. And as I am now a newbie, I’m so anxious to hear you answer to this question: Could you give us tips on the essential must-do’s for an author?
The essential thing is to write the next book.  Honestly.  Just that. 
If there was one thing you wished you’d have known before you got published, what would it be?
How much fun this all is!!!!  The Mills and Boon Author lunches in September each year in London are fabulous.  The lunches with your editor are fabulous.  The time spent at the RNA conference each year is –guess what – fabulous!
What’s the title of your next book to hit the shelves? When can we expect it?
After this one, HER CHRISTMAS EVE DIAMOND, in November, I have a cruise ship book called AN INESCAPABLE TEMPTATION out in February.  Then I have a 2-in-1 out in August based on the CDC in Atlanta.
Thank you so much for stopping by The Hot Pink Typewriter!!! We loved hearing about HER CHRISTMAS EVE DIAMOND and hope you’ll stop by again.
If you’d like to learn more about Scarlet and her fabulous books, you can check out her website at: www.scarlet-wilson.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Q&A with Author Victoria James

I am so thrilled to welcome our fellow Hot Pink Typewriter sister to the Hot Seat today. Join me in congratulating her on the debut of her first book, THE BILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS BABY, which releases today from Entangled Books/Indulgence. 

Jackson Pierce didn’t make his fortune entertaining every half-cocked idea, especially one involving diaper changes. Running a software company takes dedication, and not even a cute brunette who seems to think he has something to do with the baby in her arms can crack the band of ice around his heart.

A baby on the doorstep is the least of Hannah Woods’s problems—she has to find the baby’s uncle and convince him to adopt her. If she doesn’t, the baby will end up in foster care, and she can’t let that happen. Armed with formula and a tin of cookies, she sleuths her way to the reclusive CEO’s doorstep only to find six feet of holiday sexy—and a door slammed in her face. But when Jackson comes around and urges they marry for little Emily’s sake, Hannah finds herself falling for the jaded billionaire and wishing for a holiday miracle of their own…


Welcome, Victoria! Congratulations on the release of your first book! I have had the honor of reading an earlier draft, but for those who are still in for the treat, tell us, what do you love most about this book? 
Well, I think there are a few elements that I really love…the Christmas theme, the rural cabin and blizzard, the abandoned baby…and the overarching theme of forgiveness and letting go of the past. 
I know that most authors who write Christmas romances just love the holiday itself. What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
Hmm…well, my background is Italian, so family and food are pretty important around the holidays.   Italy has so many dishes that are unique to certain regions, and I love that my mother still makes many of the traditional foods.  Now that we have small children, I love that we can combine Italian and Canadian traditions-as well as my husband’s Ukrainian heritage.  I love holiday movies as well, and curling up on a cold winter’s night with a Christmas movie and my family is just about as good as it gets!  Every year I MUST watch, It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas at Plum Creek, Rudolph, and more recently, The Holiday.  Now that my son is a little older, we’ve also started making sure that charity work is a priority.  It’s so sweet to see how giving young children can be when they understand the concept of helping those in need.

The path to publication is always interesting and unique for every writer. Can you tell us about your experience? 
Sure.  I started writing when my son was born (six years ago).  But my writing was very sporadic because I had a new baby, and a full time business, and no maternity leave.  We also moved quite a bit in the last eight years.  But I would write when I could, not losing sight of the goal of publication.  When my daughter was born (2 years ago) I started querying agents and my current agent rejected the manuscript that I’d submitted but told me to send something else along.  Fast forward to a year later and another house move and I did just that-and she offered me representation.  I sold to Entangled, Indulgence last January.

You have several books releasing in the coming months. How do you manage working on multiple projects? Do you have a writing schedule? 
I’ve really had to learn how to put aside the current project I’m working on in order to accommodate revisions on another project.  I find it difficult to mentally pull myself out of one book and quickly get into another one.

Writing schedule?  Hmm…I’m always tweaking this depending what’s going on at home.  For a while I was waking up early-before the kids woke.  But then my kids started waking up earlier, so I had to scrap that plan.  Now I try to get in some time during my daughter’s nap-but that’s only about an hour and a half.  The rest is in the evenings.  It has to be-or I wouldn’t get anything done.  I am looking forward to next year though, when my daughter starts preschool-at least I’ll have two and a half hours every day!  Baby steps…I also don’t want to wish this time away either, because I know how quickly kids grow up!

You have two small children, a family business, and a prolific writing schedule. How do you juggle everything? 
I don’t!  I’ve accepted that I can’t do everything at once.  I can’t.  My family is first, and then my writing…everything else takes a back seat.  I’m also trying to delegate…and take a lesser role in our small business now that I am published.  I am a little bit of a control freak, and love a clean and organized home-these days it’s just not happening.  I’m trying to accept that it’s just a reality for the next little while!
I have to ask: do you ever get a break? What do you do when you aren't cranking out your next book? 
LOL-I love the term ‘cranking.’  Well, I find that after I turn in a partial or complete a manuscript I take a few days to regroup.  Maybe instead of writing I’ll use that time to update my blog and other admin/social media stuff that I’ve put aside while trying to meet a deadline.  Oh, and maybe some housework too ;-)  I love interior design and have a background in it, so often I’m found rearranging things and doing some house projects.  But, I really do love writing, so after that break, I’m anxious to get back into it!

Social media and promotion can be a job in itself. How do you work this into your life (on top of everything else!)? 
This is still new to me.  I’m trying to figure out the right balance. I love Twitter, but I find I’m on it in bursts, then off again when deadlines take priority.  At the end of the day, I think writing still takes priority.  I’m hoping that as my kids get older and are both in school for the full day, I’ll have a little more time to devote to social media.

Can you describe your writing process? 
Sure…it all begins with a cup of coffee and an idea!  I find I don’t plan in detail because for me the story evolves as I write it.  Characters end up doing things I may not have envisioned and conflict arises as I go along.  I have tried writing detailed outlines, but I just end up straying.  I’m not a complete “panster” though, I do have a rough, chapter-by-chapter outline.  Then I go back and forth between writing the first three chapters and a partial.  Sometimes as I’m writing, certain scenes will come to me and I will quickly jot them down so I don’t lose the moment or the idea. 

The first three chapters are always the most difficult for me as I find it takes a while to really get to know the characters, the tone of the book, the setting.  And it’s usually after writing those first few chapters that I’ll know if something feels ‘off’.  Oh, and the dreaded synopsis.  I think it is actually more difficult than the first three chapters!  I think it’s so tough to try and make it interesting but short!  And again, since the story evolves so much for me, it’s hard to map out the entire book.  Often my synopsis will change by the time I’m finished writing the book.  

What can we expect from you next? 

Well, I’m currently contracted for two more books in 2013, and am waiting to hear back on two other proposals.  My next release from Indulgence comes out this January, 2013.  I don’t have a title yet, but it’s the first book in a trilogy about three brothers. 

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Victoria and congratulations again on the debut of your delightful holiday romance, THE BILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS BABY.

To learn more about Victoria, check out her website at www.victoriajames.ca

And in case you missed the buy links, click HERE to get your copy of her debut book, just in time for the holidays. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mechanics on Monday: Tunnelling Out of Dead-End Scenes by Lindsay J. Pryor

We’ve all had it happen – maybe countless times in one novel. No matter how many books you’ve written or how much you plan, sometimes a scene just won’t work. Maybe you can’t start it, maybe you can’t finish it or maybe you’re stuck slam-bang in the middle. So what do you do when it happens? Grab more coffee? Procrastinate? Cry with despair? Rely on good, old-fashioned denial?

There’s no miracle cure and this is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few questions that might be helpful to ask yourself when faced with that dead-end scene:

Have you chosen the right point of view?
As a writer, on some level we instinctively know which character viewpoint we are writing from. Sometimes we get it wrong. If you do find yourself flaying, switch the POV and see what happens. It might open up a whole new thread you didn’t expect. At the very worst, it could even deepen your understanding of your character on some level.

Have you selected the best possible setting?
Maybe you’ve placed your character/s in the wrong place. External stimuli can play a very effective role both in building a solid scene as well as bringing out the best or worst in your characters. It can help create focus, mood, tension, or even present an important viewpoint or response that is going to reveal something deep and meaningful about your characters. The setting should always reflect or generate an incident that is integral to the plot. If it doesn’t, it might be worth questioning its purpose.

Do you actually have something to say?
That’s the fundamental question for every scene in a book: What’s the point? Every scene should say or reveal something. Have nothing to say and the dead-end is fairly inevitable. If a scene doesn’t reveal character (or anything new at least) and/or it doesn’t move the plot forward, why have it? You may as well have your characters twiddling their thumbs, commenting on the weather or asking each other what they’d like for dinner for all the difference it will make as far as story progression goes. Be relevant. Be revealing. And always be reaching to tell your reader something.

Do you need a break from it?
Maybe walking away is the best solution. Take a break and come back to it – an hour, a few days, or even weeks later. Don’t dwell on it, move on – write more scenes. Hopefully you have at least a vague idea of how the story is progressing, so work on a scene that appears further along. No one says a book has to be written sequentially. But if you’ve done that and it still doesn’t work…

How about scraping it altogether?
Okay, so very few writers actually enjoy scraping scenes. But if it doesn’t work, no matter what you do, it’s definitely time to move on. Don’t delete it! It’s still worth holding on to them in a separate folder somewhere, at least until your novel is complete. But don’t dwell on something that just isn’t sparking – you have an entire novel to write!

If you’ve got your own coping mechanisms and suggestions for those dead-end scenes, I’d love you to share them. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

50,000 Words or Bust by Tina Vaughn

For the first time in my life, I'm participating in a special event for November's National Novel Writing Month. The goal: write 50,000 words in thirty days.

For a plotter/pantser like me whose internal editor is like an uncontrollable beast, this project seemed, not just a daunting task, but an impossible one. How could I do this? I'm the writer who's lucky to manage a consistent five hundred words daily, who edits a chapter before I can move on to the next, whose writing comes in fits and bursts and whose plotting consists of a coarse outline on the back of an old page of my desk calendar.

I'm also the writer who's always up for a challenge. So, I overcame those doubts and insecurities to register for a special event at Savvy Authors. That, my dear friends, was the easy part. Immediately after registering, the doubts and, dare I admit it, the panic set in. What if I couldn't do this? What if I failed? However, a stronger and more hopeful part of myself said quite firmly: What if you can?

I spent the better part of October plotting and planning and making preparations, which included writing a blurb, synopsis and detailed outline. Details, people. I mean as much information as I could include. Nothing was too small.

I developed a desktop filing system where any ideas, bits of dialogue or scene ideas were kept in one spot and waiting for me when I was ready to write them.

I've learned to write at least twice a day, early mornings and late nights, in order to make sure I meet my daily writing goals.

My organizational skills have improved, even on the home-front, as I keep up with any and all outside commitments (my daughter's ballet classes, PTO meetings, outings, fundraisers, etc.) and adjust my schedule to accommodate writing time so that I can meet daily word or page count goals.

Since November 1, All I've done is write. No editing. No re-reading. Only writing. And I'm proud to say I've written around 27,000 words.

So far, my experience has been a positive one. I went from panic to excitement in just a few weeks. Paradoxically, I've found a writing structure and freedom in this challenge – and, for that, I am truly thankful.

Have you ever pushed yourself to move outside your comfort zone?

What did you learn?

Monday, November 12, 2012

How Do You Do It? by Jennifer Faye

Welcome to Mechanics on Monday…

Grab your coffee, tea or your choice of caffeine, pull up a comfy seat and join me.

With this being Monday, my favorite weekday, it marks the beginning of a seven day journey to see what we can accomplish. And for me, beginnings are always so exciting.
So now let's get down to business. How do you do it? How do you begin a story?

Have you ever taken time to contemplate your first step? Do you have a process that works best for you? Or do you just dive in and see what happens?

With my first contracted book firmly underway, it’s time to set my sites on a new adventure. I love this part of the writing process when everything is so sparkly and shiny. The possibilities are endless. And the way from A to Z has countless possibilities.

Hence the question: How do you do it?

I guess it’d depend on which camp you hang out in. Some writers call themselves a pantster and others plotters. I think most writers are a blend of varying degrees. I know I am. J

A long time ago, I started off writing as a total pantster. I followed my characters anywhere they wanted to lead me…even into brick walls. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that I’d get further along if I didn’t spend so much time bouncing off walls and taking timeouts to hunt down the aspirin for my invariable headache. LOL.

And I began creating a writing process for myself. Lots of trial and error. Eventually I found that my first order of business was to write a short synopsis and character background. I find it so much easier to write the broad strokes of a story before I get mired in the intriguing details of the story. Not saying it’s easy to pull a beginning-to-end synopsis out of thin air, but in my case, it’s worth the effort.

From there I move on to a detailed outline. I tried skipping this step with a book I wrote this summer. I was in a hurry and I figured I had the synopsis so how hard could it be. I did okay for a while, but I noticed my pace kept slowing every day until I hit that blasted brick wall again. I knew this wall. I’d definitely been here before.

So much for deviating from my process. I was paying the price.

Only this time I knew the solution. I had to back up and get with my process. I took a time out from staring at my stalled out draft and outlined the ending of my story. From there, my fingers had a hard time keeping up with my mind. And in no time I was typing “The End.”

Now don’t get me wrong, when I write the actual story, my H/h will take detours from my outline/synopsis, but it’s an easy fix to go back and update the synopsis. In fact, my synopsis gets lots of updating, but the basic structure pretty much stays the same.

Everyone’s process is different. And I’d love to hear about yours. As no process is set in stone, it evolves as the writer evolves. And I’m always on the lookout for something to add, tweak or change in my process.

So how do you do it? How do you get from the beginning to end?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Do You Write Best? by Olivia Miles

I am always curious to hear about other writers’ habits and routines - in other words, how they write best. Some plot, some don’t. Some write from start to finish, others scene by scene. Whatever the approach, it works for them, but how exactly do you find the process that works best for you?

When I first started writing, I wrote when I felt compelled or inspired, and I let my ideas flow and be my guide. Somewhere along the line, I started to plot and outline, and then I learned I wrote better if I plotted, so from then on I did just that. Another experience forced me to write a lot of words in a short time period, and I then learned that if I started writing by a schedule, I worked more efficiently. I also learned that I could achieve X number of words per day if I set my mind to it, and I set that as my reasonable-yet-challenging daily goal. 

Some of my process has remained unchanged. I always write from beginning to end -  I have tried writing scenes out of order and that doesn’t work for me, so my first instinct was right there. I also don’t write well at night. I have tried, believe me, I have tried. It just isn’t for me. I would rather get up early than stay up late. I also don't write well with music playing in the background - too distracting!

I think when it comes to any job or responsibility, there is an element of trial and error, a learning curve where you work out the kinks and figure out how you work best. Usually once everything starts to click, other good things follow, and at the very least, the process feels more manageable.

So how about you? How do you write best?