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Tag: Connie Vines

Home > ArchivesTag: Connie Vines

Everyone Wants to Write a Book by Connie Vines

February 13, 2017 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

 

Topic for February: Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not. 
Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?
How many times have you heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book?” Many a time, I”m certain.  However, most do not.

Why? Because writing is hard work.

What got me started?  Like most children, I loved reading, drawing, and listening to the oral family history spoken by my grandparents.  I also like to write stories (not particularly good stories) but for a second grader I did have a handle on the concept of plotting.  Thinking back, I unnerved adults with my pointed interview questions, and thoughts about the meaning of life and life-after-death vs death-after-death.  Picture:  Tuesday Addams wearing glasses and constantly grumbling about receiving yet, another stupid doll instead of a filling cabinet for her birthday.

When, exactly, did I start and complete my first novel?

While I wrote short-stories, nonfiction articles for publication during my twenties, I didn’t get serious about completing a novel until thirties. My children were in school and I worked part-time.  That gave me a block of free time to write (vs the scribbling on 3 x 5 index cards when I was cooking dinner or a note pad during a child’s 1 hour nap).  I was serving on my church board when the choir soloist told me her sister was a co-president of the Orange County Chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).  At the time, I hadn’t every thought of writing a romance.  I wrote for the YA and middle school market and dabbled in historical fiction, but Shirlee convinced me that the networking and workshops would be beneficial to me.  She was correct.

Attending monthly meetings/workshops, exchanging rough drafts with my critique members during lunch, and input from the multi-published members gave me the confidence to persevere.  It also made me crawl out of bed after my husband left for work (at 3:00 in the morning) and write before getting my children off to school.
I also discovered that I couldn’t give up my YA stories while I found my footing in a new market.

“So, what did Connie do?”  you ask.

I work two novels at once which I still do to this very day.

Crazing making?  Yes!

Writing romance isn’t easy.  Strong, well-developed characters, good plot (and multiple subplots), sharp dialogue, and emotion-lots of emotion.

Writing is addictive.  The story unfolds, the characters present themselves, and away the writer goes into a new Universe.

What makes me complete my novel/story?

The best way for me to describe the feel is I am driven to finish the story.  Native Americans say the story chooses the Storyteller.  It the Storyteller’s responsibly to bring the story to life.

Happy Reading and Happy Valentine Day!

My Rodeo Romances (Lynx and Brede) are on sale this month (click on my Amazon Author Page link).  Even Zombies need love. Indulge in a little Zombie Valentine Romance. For FREE!! Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow on Amazon.com

Connie

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow

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Creating the Bond of Friendship in Your Novel by Connie Vines

November 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , ,

Nearly every book I’ve read has a protagonist. And all of those protagonists were surrounded by several, if not a great many, friends. Within my own stories, my protagonists have quite a few friends. Among those friends, there are usually one or two, maybe three, friends that the protagonist is especially close to. One of my all time favorite series, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, follows best friends Lissa and Rose, who act like sisters most of the time. While reading, it’s clear that the two have known each other for a long while, see each other as their closest allies, and see their lives as them against the world. It’s obvious that they’re very close. The question is how does Mead accomplish this? How does any author establish these types of close friendships between characters without blatantly telling the reader?

If you think of your own close friendships, or your best friends, you’ll probably recognize five or more of the following in your relationship with these particular friends –

Understand without speaking.

When you’ve known someone a really long time, or have spent so much time together, you get to know the person so well that you pick up on their habits and quirks and body language. When they bite their lip, you know it’s not that they’re confused, but that the water works are about to begin and it’s time to get them out of there.  You understand each other so well that no one needs to say anything.v You might not be able to read each others’ minds, but you understand each other well enough that neither of you needs to say anything. You just do.

Tease each other.

There’s artificial teasing, there’s bully teasing, there’s flirting teasing. But among friends, it’s the way we gently point out each others’ issues and faults without being cruel, it’s how we remind each other of good times, it’s how we connect and communicate. Between best friends, teasing is just another way we talk to each other. There’s no malice, jealousy, anger, or bitterness behind it. It’s often light, fun, laughable, and in good humor. It’s a way to make your friend laugh when they’re on the verge of tears. It’s the way we build each other up when our plans fall through. Teasing is always there, but it never, ever becomes a way of putting each other down.

Rely on each other.

Through good times and bad, friends can always be relied upon to be there and help each other. There are no excuses, there is no distance, there are no events that could prevent two best buds from helping each other out in times of emotional and physical need, and friends rely on each other for that. But friends also rely on each other for comfort, for support, for encouragement, and for all the things it seems the world wants to take away from us. 

Seek each other’s advice.

Perhaps more than our parents, teachers, advisors, and mentors, we seek advice from our friends first. This might be a perfectly faulty action, but because friends understand each other and rely on each other, it’s natural that we seek advice from those we know, and who know us, best. 

Feel comfortable around one another.

As with all of the above, friends are comfortable with each other enough to seek that advice, tease each other, and rely on one another. Even more than that, friends are comfortable with and around each other that they don’t care if they do something stupid, or say something idiotic. Because they’re comfortable with each other, these things happen and no one cares, because these silly things hardly define us. It’s the same with crying, or showing how truly angry we are, or how hopeless we feel. Friends know each other so well that they be vulnerable and sensitive, and the friend won’t misuse them.

Miss each other when gone.

Probably the greatest understatement of all these, but best friends will miss each other. They might be separated for only a day, maybe one has moved away. But miss each other they will, just the same. The effect this has on each other is anyone’s guess, as everyone reacts differently to separation. Some might become depressed, others might lash out, and some might just have that aching sense of loneliness in their gut that seems like it can’t ever be filled. There is most definitely a reaction, and missing each other is just the surface.

Have similar interests/hobbies/goals/pasts.

Whether they grew up together, or met at summer camp, or took the same art class, friends have similar interests. There’s something that initially drew them together, and in writing a book you can’t just put that aside. It will always be their foundation, and while the foundation can grow, there’s that one point, however small and insignificant in the present, that brought them together.

Grow together as individuals and as friends.

If any relationship is to last and get stronger, growth is a must. Trials, tragedy, celebration, joy; all these add to and change a person, their actions, and how they consider new situations, and this happens in a friendship as well. While going through similar occurrences, if friends cannot grow together, change. Make sure to show the friends, and their friendship, grow through the story.

Don’t judge.

It’s simple. Close friends, who understand, rely, advise, and help each other, just don’t judge. Regardless of what one does, or what the other thinks about a topic, they don’t judge. They accept that they’re individuals with different views and opinions on some things. 

Don’t try to change each other.

As I said, friends accept each other. They don’t try to change one another, or mould each other into what their ideal would be, because that would be the farthest thing from acceptance. Friends understand, they don’t judge, and they don’t try to change their friends’ personalities, opinions, views, likes or dislikes, or their hopes and dreams. They accept everything about each other, and celebrate their differences.

Confide everything.

Friends naturally want to talk with each other and discuss the things that happen in their lives, but best friends, as I’m sure you know, will talk about everything. They confide everything in each other without fear of being rejected or judged. 

Fights sometimes happen, but making amends occurs quickly.

No friendship is perfect, and because there are two people involved, disagreements are bound to occur. But when fights begin, whatever the topic, close friends will try to move past the argument and come to a conclusion, generally in the form of an agreement or better understanding of one another. They won’t linger on their differing opinions, and will try to make amends as soon as they can. This leads to stronger friendships, and is a way that the friendship can grow and develop.

Can’t imagine life without each other.

Perhaps more than anything else, best friends simply can’t imagine what life would be like if they weren’t together. It’s something they don’t want to think about, and is the last thing they’ll focus on when confronted with the real possibility of lifelong separation. They’ll come up with excuses, plans, arguments, anything that might be able to change the impending separation. They literally can’t picture their life being apart, because their personalities and dreams and emotional selves are so connected.

These are just a basic few things that can comprise a close friendship. Use some, use none, but make sure you really look at the characters you have and focus on showing that closeness where it’s supposed to exist. It offers greater development of both characters, adds to the realism of the plot, and helps with the overall story.

Good luck and good writing!


Connie

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Oh Mercury Retrograde, Are You Here Again? by Connie Vines

September 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , , ,
Oh, Mercury retrograde. You are here, AGAIN. You have arrived on our collective doorsteps in all your messy glory. 

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here we go. The planets are swinging around at all times, and their movements affect us all in different ways. All planets go retrograde, but Mercury’s journey seems to impact people much more than any other. (Even people who “don’t believe in astrology” often “believe” in the crazy aftershocks of Mercury retrograde!)
Why is that? It’s because Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde — which means that it looks like it’s going backwards in the sky — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up. Mercury isn’t really going backwards, it’s just hanging out by the sun, but from Earth, that makes it look like it’s in reverse. It typically runs for a couple of weeks, a few times a year.
Check out these dates below and put them in your calendar!
In 2016, Mercury is retrograde from…
January 5th to January 25th
April 28th to May 22nd
August 30th to September 22nd
December 19th to January 28th (2017)
Note: We sometimes start to feel the effects of Mercury retrograde a few days early. It’s nice to give yourself a bit of leeway on either side of the prescribed dates!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MERCURY GOES RETROGRADE?
All sorts of things! It’s like everyone you know has suddenly gone mad! You might find yourself getting into bizarre arguments about nothing at all, being unable to finish sentences or barely even able to form a coherent thought. Your computer and other electronic equipment is more likely to go on the fritz. You could experience travel delays, too. Double-check your flights and take a book with you to keep you occupied while you wait for the train! We don’t tend to get all the information we need at this time, so it can be hard to make big decisions and it’s not always the best time to sign a contract, either.
Expect to hear super-loud complaining from your friends who are Gemini (me!) or Virgo, since both are ruled by Mercury! Mercury also rules a lot of industries like publishing, writing, editing, advertising, sales, public relations and anything to do with transport, like airlines, the post office and cabs! This means it can be particularly rough for Gemini train conductors and Virgo magazine editors, so be kind to any you know!
I often find that Mercury retrograde makes me want to go into hermit mode. I feel like half my brain is missing so I’m really not that interested in interacting with anyone, plus every conversation seems to go in an unusual, confusing direction. I feel much more irritable and frustrated and things just don’t seem to go how I want them to.
So that’s the bad news. Mercury retrograde can be a total kick in the teeth for those of us who normally pride ourselves on having our karmic shit together! The GOOD news is that Mercury retrograde provides us with lots of beautiful opportunities if we can just tilt our head and squint.
Mercury retrograde wants us to move back spiritually. It is providing us with a chance to re-examine various areas of our life which may need a little more work, so that we can move forward to a bright new dawn. Now, more than ever, the time is right to look at things with clear eyes. 
It’s also a terrific period in which to tie up loose ends. So many of us have unfinished projects… Maybe that door just needs another lick of paint, or you’ll decide to put away your ex-boyfriend’s love letters once and for all. 
One of the best ways to cope with it — as with anything, really — is to just “go with the flow”. When you fight Mercury retrograde, that’s when life gets really ugly. Just take some time, go slowly, be careful, don’t freak yourself out by expecting to be uber-productive-perfect right now. Be good to yourself and the people around you, now more than ever!
A QUICK GUIDE TO
SURVIVING MERCURY RETROGRADE!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Be sure not to take things too personally. People will often say offensive things they didn’t mean around this time, because their thinking is clouded and their communication skills are on pause! If your best friend suddenly became the most insensitive person in the world, give her the benefit of the doubt.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Back up your data!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Don’t purchase any big ticket items, because they will often have flaws or issues that you weren’t aware of! Of course, life doesn’t stop just because of wacky planetary movement, so if you absolutely have to get that car, computer or iPhone, TRIPLE-check all the paperwork, and make sure you have a warranty!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Take things with a grain of salt. Everyone is a bit confused, and people are much more inclined to change their mind once Mercury goes direct. Mercury can be a bit of a trickster — could it be that the next few weeks are a big karmic joke?
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Read the small print on any contracts. Ask lots of questions. Again, you can’t put your life on hold just because of some silly planet, but adapt your lifestyle a bit so that things run more smoothly. Communication can be a mess right now, but do your best to get as much information as you can.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Finish things you started a while ago. Home improvement projects? Wardrobe re-organization? Short stories? Love affairs?! This is an excellent time to tie up loose ends and file things away forever.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Get together with old friends, reminisce and laugh!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Double-check any information you’re given, especially as relates to travel arrangements! During one particularly formidable Mercury retrograde, I actually caught a cab to the wrong airport! Check times, delays, baggage allowances, reservations… everything!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Allow Mercury to nudge you in unusual directions. If you seem to find yourself “back to the future”, don’t just try to wriggle out of it — look at what the universe is trying to show you. What can you learn from this situation? This is a fantastic time to re-examine, accept and move on.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Use the things you’ve discovered in the past to create a dazzling new vision so that you’re ready to blast ahead when Mercury goes direct!

Happy Writing,
Connie

Click HERE all my books are  on FREE on the Kindle Count Down!!

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You Can Edit Your Own Work by Connie Vines

July 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , , , , ,
‘Do I really need to hire a professional editor?’

When you are busy writing your first draft, you can definitely edit your own work.  An editor is usually brought in only when you have a complete manuscript. Whether you’re at an early stage of writing your novel or you can’t afford to hire an editor at present, you can learn to edit your own work. Begin these 6 easy steps:
1. Take a break
This break in between the time that you finish your novel and the time that you return to it for editing is essential for several reasons.
During the time that you are apart from your novel, your subconscious will still be working on it. You will be surprised at the types of connections that you’ll make on returning to the work. If you are a writer who edits as you go, taking small breaks between finishing sections like this can also help. Thus resulting in the growth of fresh story ideas.
Distance from the work allows you re-read with a fresh perspective. On returning to your novel, you will be surprised to find passages that you don’t remember writing; passages that affect you emotionally as though someone else were the author. I call this the ‘goosebumps’ factor (remember the scene in Romancing the Stone?  If not, rent the movie).
With this re-read you will find weaknesses, plot holes, sentence structure that simply doesn’t flow, etc.   Assessing your book realistically is easier after a break as well. While in the process of writing it, you probably experienced times when you thought you were writing an extraordinary novel as well as times of great self-doubt. Now your judgement will not be clouded.
Try not to think about your novel very much during your break (work on one of my other WsIP). If something does occur to you, make a note to come back to when you start your revision. Do not dwell on your new ideas. Calendar your re-read a week or two after completion of your novel. 
2.    Get organized
  • When you sit down to do your revision, you must first get organized both physically and mentally.

Prepare your work-space. Have your writing reference resources within reach.    
Make a schedule for your revision just as you did for writing your novel. Set a goal and stick to it. Do you need a tracking system? Sticky notes? Spreadsheets, a notebook with sections and multicolored pens/highlighters, or a filing drawer?
Whatever planning you did prior to writing your novel, when you revise you will need to track things such as structure, characters, scenes and plot points to ensure that they all fit together. During your revision, you’ll need to do things like examine each scene to ensure that it moves your novel forward and does what it sets out to do. Your system can be as formal or informal as you like. The most important thing is that any editing system you use is intuitive for you and helps rather than hinders you.
3.    Develop a plan
You should make yourself a checklist for dealing with all the large and small issues you want to examine over the course of your novel. A romance novel, will have one thread showing the progression of the love story.  A crime novel, will require clues are appropriately placed and reveal just enough to the reader. While science fiction or fantasy, will require world-building that is very solid.
4.    Questions to ask yourself
·         Does the book work structurally? If you followed some version of the three-act structure, did you maintain that structure and does it create a satisfying form?
·         Does your plot make sense? What about the subplots? Are there any logical errors? Do the subplots work with the plot, or do they distract from it or make the book seem like too much is happening?

·         Are your characters well-developed? Do they seem like they could exist as flesh and blood? Do they behave in ways that are plausible for them?
·         How is your setting? Is it fully realized? Does it need more or less detail? Is it integral to the story?

·         Are there places in the book where the narrative seems to drag?
·         Do you deliver information to your readers in a way that is engaging?
·         How is your prose? Are your sentences grammatically correct?

This is just a start; you will have your own questions you’ll want to consider. Once you’ve made your plan, it’s time to start the actual revision:

5.    Make multiple passes
Editing is seldom a one-step process. First do a read through. Make notes, about problems, new ideas, structure, language problems. Don’t stop reading and begin revising.  Just make notes.
Next, go through the book more carefully and address the major elements. (# 3) Use your checklists to look at plot, structure, character, setting and the other major parts of your novel. If you find that you are going to be doing major rewrites, you should work on those rewrites before you do any line editing.
After addressing any major issues and completed your line editing, take a look at your prose. It’s now time to read your book out loud. This may seem time-consuming, but nothing compares to reading a piece of fiction out loud for finding clunky phrasings, repetitions and other things that just don’t work (if I’m not careful, my characters spend too much time drinking coffee).
6.     Get feedback

The final step in your revision is having others read your work. You may already have writing friends or belong to a writing group. Some writers(I) find it useful to ask my reader(s) to focus on certain aspects of the book. Remember readers who are not writers notice things, both views are valuable.  

The value of having others look over your work is that they will spot mistakes or inconsistencies you might miss because you are so immersed in the craft of writing.
Editing and revising are not separate from the process of writing. They are just as important as writing drafts. Editing and revising will sharpen and strengthen your novel.  After all, we want our novel to be ‘exactly’ a publisher has been waiting to acquire.
Happy Writing,
Connie Vines


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