And ooh, sometimes I envy those writers! But you have to know yourself, and since I know me all too well, there will be no shutting down of the computer for me. Oh, Iâ€™ll take a day or two, it is Christmas, after all! But then Iâ€™ll open up a new document and start work on the next book.
See, I learned a long time ago that if I take a couple of weeks off, I get so far out of writing mode that it takes me several more weeks to get back in. Itâ€™s painful to sit in front of your computer and feel as though you donâ€™t know how to write anymore.
Itâ€™s much easier to simply stay in writing mode. For me, at this time of year, that means writing one or two pages a day. Itâ€™s enough to keep my head in the book and easy enough that Iâ€™ll still feel as though Iâ€™m getting some time off.
So, during this great time of year, be kind to yourself. Play a little. Hug your kids, drop some money in the Salvation Army kettles. Give a gift to someone whoâ€™s not expecting it. Eat some cookies, sing some carols and do just enough writing to keep you ready for all of those January pages.
Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. At the moment, sheâ€™s baking cookies and wishing you allâ€”no matter what holiday youâ€™re celebratingâ€”a Merry Christmas and the very best of the season!
But when the holidays roll around and there’s family making all kinds of demands on your time, what’s a writer supposed to do?
Today, the plan was to finish my current chapter and get at least half way through the next one. What’s the old saying?? If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans??
Well, no writing was done today. And you know what, it’s okay. I’ll make up the pages. I’ll pick up the pace again later. Because as writers, that’s what we do. It’s who we are.
If you’re lucky enough to be making a living at this wonderful/miserable/fantastic/challenging career, then you just suck it up and do what you have to do.
Someone asked me the other day how I’d managed to write and sell more than 100 books in the last mumble mumble years. The answer? You keep typing. You keep imagining. You keep your butt in the chair and you do the work. If one proposal’s rejected, you do another one. When you finish one book, you move onto the next one.
Now, with the holidays upon us (and how did that happen so quickly??), my game plan will be to write when I can and do however much I can a day. Try to write at least a page every day. Keep yourself immersed in your story because after two weeks off, it’s hard to remember how to string a compelling paragraph together!
So remember that you’re a writer. When the family demands your time, remember to give yourself some time, too. To do what you were born to do. To tell your stories. To live in your imagination. Because, as my favorite old saying goes…….If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
by Maureen Child
Writing a proposal is probably the most important thing youâ€™re going to do in your career. Your proposal is the â€˜howdy doâ€™ of publishing. Itâ€™s your foot in the door. Itâ€™s your â€˜Hey, Iâ€™m over here, read meâ€™, way of getting an editorâ€™s attention.
Iâ€™ve known several writers over the years who had one proposal. They sent this proposal out over and over again any time theyâ€™d hear an editor might be looking for something. Theyâ€™d get feedback on this one proposal, make changes in it and then send it back out again.
Eventually, this wear and tear on a proposal shows.
And it wears on the writer, too. How can you be excited to work on a project youâ€™ve been laboring over for five years? Nope. Once a proposal has made the rounds of everyone you can think of, put it away. Iâ€™m not saying you should never take it out for a ride around NYC again. But let it rest then go back to it with fresh eyes later.
When I was trying to sell to Silhouette Desire, Iâ€™d already written nearly forty western historicals. Didnâ€™t mean much at Silhouette. Sure, they liked the fact that I was published, but Westerns didnâ€™t mean I could write contemporary Desires! I was determined, though. The editor I was submitting to at the time took three weeks to turn down my first proposal.
But I was ready for her. When I got that first rejection, I had the next proposal in an envelope ready to go out. She was impressed that Iâ€™d kept working on other ideas. I asked her how many proposals I could give her at once. She said she didnâ€™t want any more than four proposals on her desk at one time.
Within three weeks, she had three more proposals from me sitting on her desk. By doing that, I told her some very important information about me. She now knew I had lots of ideas. She knew I was determined. And she knew I didnâ€™t give up easily.
So do your proposals. Your first three chapters and a synopsis. Make them sing. Make them shine. Send them out. And while youâ€™re waiting…write something else.
Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. And right now she’s working on…you guessed it. A proposal.
I really hate writing a synopsis. Most writers do. And those that do love writing the darn things??… let’s just say we will never be close personal friends! We wouldn’t be able to bond over the misery of trying to cram a 2-400 page book into a handful of pages.
A synopsis is all important when you’re going for that elusive contract. When you need to show an agent or an editor that yes, your story does actually contain a beginning, a middle, and an end. You need to make that synopsis sing–to entice your readers with the brilliance of your plot line and keep it all under ten pages, if you don’t mind!
This is not easy. Especially if you haven’t figured out exactly how you want your book to go yet. Still, the synopsis must be written…so you jump in with both feet and hope for the best. Here are a couple of tips. I’m not saying this is the only way to write a synopsis, only that it’s worked for me for almost one hundred books………….
1. Don’t clutter the synopsis with a million names. It will only be confusing. Get the hero, the heroine and if you have to, their children. Name the villain, of course, but leave out quirky Aunt Edna or the garage mechanic Edwardo who’s sleeping with the Mayor’s wife, Delilah Nogood.
2. If you’re going to include backstory, to provide motivation, then label it as backstory. Keep it to no more than two pages. Then have a scene break, and type, The Story:
3. Hit the high points. Pretend you’re telling your best friend what your book is about. This is a sure fire way to get the basic story in without a lot of detail that will no doubt be brilliant in the book, but in the synopsis stage is just clutter.
4. Don’t have snippets of dialogue. It slows things down. Besides, the editor/agent will be reading your pages and the dialogue will make much more sense over there!
5. Tie up loose ends. Never leave the mystery unsolved or the murderer un-revealed. (is that a word?)
6. Show your characters’ growth arcs. That’s simple enough if you do one paragraph from the hero’s POV and then switch to the heroine’s. In a synopsis, don’t worry so much about head hopping. With those continual shifts, showing how your characters are responding to what’s happening, the editor/agent will see that you actually have a plan for those people!
That’s about it, I think. Of course, as soon as I hit ‘publish’, I’ll think of something else! If I do, I’ll come back and add it in.
The main thing to remember is that you want your synopsis to catch the imagination of those who read it. You want it to make them need to read your book. But no pressure!
Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. A five time Rita nominee, she’s seen one of her books made into a CBS-TV movie and would love to have that experience again! Her June release from NAL, More Than Fiends, is a paranormal/urban fantasy/funny/first person romp filled with way too many characters that never cluttered the synopsis.
By Maureen Child
I was asked to write a monthly blog on Craft for OCC. Very nice to be asked, by the way. But the problem came when I actually started thinking about what to say!
Craft is just so subjective. Are there rules to writing? Absolutely. Should you try to bend them, break them and or spindle and mutilate? Why not? And who am I to tell you not to do it?
So what Iâ€™m going to do is, talk about how I write. Thatâ€™s not necessarily the way youâ€™ll write. Or the way you should write. But itâ€™s what I know. And, Iâ€™d love it if you had questions. Or suggestions on what you might like to read about.
On my first blog though, Iâ€™m just going to say that to be a writer, you MUST write. Every day. Even itâ€™s only for a few minutes a day. Weâ€™ve all got busy lives. Husbands, kids, parents, jobs…and all of it combines to make writing time hard to come by.
But youâ€™re worth the effort. Carve out a little bit of time all for yourself. Early in the morning, late at night. On your lunch hour. Make the writing as important as everything else in your world. Connect with your own imagination. Let the words flow even if they donâ€™t seem to make sense at first glance. You can fix anything. But first you have to write it.
So letâ€™s hear the questions and suggestions. I KNOW youâ€™ve all got opinions!
Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. Sheâ€™s written historicals, paranormals, contemporaries and series romance. And her favorite book is the one sheâ€™s working on at the moment. Publisherâ€™s Weekly says that Maureen Child…is one of the stars in the ascendant…
Just found your question! LOL…
and Yes, I too have discovered a favorite phrase popping up in more than one book. Always terrifying and something I’m always on the lookout for!
I just wanted to say- 90 books? WOW!
Okay, here’s my question- with that many books under your belt- have you ever, unintentionally, recycled a phrase or joke or some such thing? I was reading Jennifer Weiner’s blog a while back, and she discovered she did that, and all I could think was- dang, there’s one more thing to worry about!
Thanks, Jen…Usually, when it’s not working for me, I try the same scene from a different POV. Start with a different character. Or move it further along into the action. Anything that might give my creativity a noodge…
Maureen I love your advice on revising. When I’m revising over and over, usually it’s because something’s not working and I just can’t see what it is…yet.
With more than 90 books to your credit, you’re an inspiriation Maureen!
LOL…….ah yes, I’ve always got an opinion! Thanks, guys…
Oh, more stuff to tweak is an excellent incentive! LOL
Thanks Maureen! I always trust you’ll have a down-to-earth way of dealing with problems like this.
Maureen, I loved this post.
And I loved Kate’s question and your answer to it.
Hi Kate….sure. Here are the words of wisdom……CUT IT OUT!
Rewriting a scene over and over again doesn’t make it better. You will eventually, just suck the magic out of what you wrote in the first place!
You have to limit yourself…=) Once is fine. Twice is okay…but any more than that and you’re risking diluting your own work. Move on, write more…give yourself other things to tweak!
Hi Maureen! It’s so exciting to see you talking about craft!
Okay, I have a question. Instead of WRITING every day, I seem to find myself RE-writing every day. Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who feels the need to tweak their work constantly??
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