Friday, February 28, 2014

Celebrating a Week of Writing

Celebrating any little victory can be important for writers. I've touched on that before and it's always good to celebrate with a group of writers.  Today I am drinking a toast to my Heart of Denver Romance Writers group and its monthly book in a week challenge. This sort of writing challenge can be done by any group wanting to dedicate a full week to their writing. The Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA also does such a challenge every couple of months.

It's a good practice to fall into and you can even do it on your own, though I like the idea of a group participating.  What purpose does one week of steady writing serve, you might ask? There are five good reasons I always participate when I can:

1. It helps me to be accountable. We set a goal at the beginning of the week and then try to meet it. For some it might be as lofty as writing 10,000 words.  Or it can be as small as 350 words a day.
Either way, there is a goal there, and if you work to achieve it, it furthers your writing. Even if you don't you will probably end up with more words written than you might otherwise have completed.

2. It makes me schedule a time to write. Sometimes days can be so hectic, but if there is a goal set and we want to reach our goals, we need to make the time to get the work done. And setting that goal makes me want to achieve it. And you only achieve it by sitting down and writing.

3. It makes me turn off my inner editor. Sometimes my writing slows down because I get caught up in a few paragraphs, trying to make them perfect before moving on. When you are participating in something like Book in a week (or in NaNoWriMo) there is no time for editing. You simply have to sit down and put the words on paper. Maybe they aren't as graceful as you wanted, but you're moving your story forward and getting something accomplished. The editing can come later.

4. It does good to see how the others are doing. I'll admit I can be very competitive and when I feel good about my 785 words written and I see someone else or a couple of other people double that, well, then the next day I am going to try as hard as possible to match them and their output.  I want to write more!

5. There is a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the week. It feels good to look back and see how much got done, and often I have propelled myself past a knotty part of the story that was perhaps slowing me down. Writing fast can push me through that and suddenly I am on to the next part of the story and moving forward again.

So, even if you don't have a group to work with, try the book in a week challenge. Set a total word goal for yourself for the next week and then see how much you can get done.  And then drink that glass of champagne and celebrate.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Valentine's Day

Happy  Valentine’s Day!  Today we are celebrating romance. But let’s go beyond that. Let’s   As long as people love romance, there will be readers and luckily, there will also be writers. Who doesn’t love a good story with a happy or sometimes a bittersweet ending? 
celebrate and toast those special people who read and write romance novels.

Romance novels and novels and novelists come in all shapes and sizes.  I would love to run a list of them all, but it would be too numerous.  In danger of missing some of my favorite fellow writers, I am not going to list them all either. 
From the first time I picked up Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in my teens I was hooked. My best friend and I went through Sense and Sensibility and then Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. We always had a library book or two in our locker with our textbooks and they were usually romances. I spent summers walking to the library in the eastern Colorado heat every single week just so I search out a new romance. Then I picked up a Harlequin Romance and I got hooked even more.  And now I'm still reading romance, in all shapes and sizes, in print or on my Kindle and Ipad. I listen to romances on audio. As long as there was a good love story involved I've always enjoyed the story.

But I also found I loved writing romance. By the time I was out of high school I had written my own romance short story involving a kidnapping, a small town girl, and a rock and roll idol! I still have that story floating around in the basement somewhere though the penciled manuscript has probably faded and I doubt I could read my writing.
It wasn’t until years later that I began writing romances in earnest and trying to get published.  But I also had a day job that was pretty demanding and after a couple of rejections I stopped submitting and focused on writing TV news scripts. I saved the romance writing for evenings and weekends, and I didn’t submit again for a very long time.

Now, with a number of suspense books on the market and a mystery to come, I find I still haven’t lost the taste for reading and writing romance. There are still plenty of great stories out there and  I keep finding new authors every day. And I personally keep coming up with my own stories as well.
But I couldn’t celebrate Valentines Day without a tribute to one of my all time favorite love, Home Fires Burning.  That was the story of a young girl who met the man of her dreams when she was ten and knew from the moment she saw him that he was meant to be her husband. My mother told us the story over and over about the handsome cowboy who came to work at her family’s Colorado ranch when she was young and how she spent years trying to get his attention. It took her growing up before he even noticed her, and then a world war came between them and when he finally came home, she had been sent to California to live with a brother. But she wasn't going to be denied -- she caught the first train home and they eloped to New Mexico. Eventually they got to spend 48 happy years together. 
stories—that of my parents whose story I sort of stole and used as the beginning of my book,

And to me that is romance. I love to read those stories and write those stories where true love wins out in the end. Whether there is a family conflict involved, or a murder to solve or the love is between a poor woman and a royal or a shapeshifter or a vampire and the girl or guy next door, a great romance is always a joy to read.
So here’s a toast to the romance readers out there and to the many writers who make those stories come alive! Who are your favorite writers and what are your favorite romance novels?