writing

My writing process…

I was invited to do be part of the  “My Writing Process Blog Tour” by the lovely Ella Martin. Prep school survivor and Southern California native Ella Martin writes sweet romances with a spunky cast of characters. Her debut, Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up? will be released in Summer 2014. Unwilling to brave snowy winters, she now resides in Florida with her husband and son.

You can also like Ella on Facebook.

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1) What am I working on?

On 3 different projects. The one which has most of my attention right now is my YA contemporary romance novel coming out on June 26th: ONE, TWO, THREE…I´m also working on ALWAYS SECOND BEST (the companion novel of ONE, TWO, THREE…) and on DADDY´S LITTLE GIRL, my YA thriller which I am planning to publish in February 2015. Oh, and I have an idea for a NA thriller…but I´m not allowed to start working on that one before ONE, TWO, THREE is polished and ALWAYS SECOND BEST is at the first draft stage.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The romance plays a pivotal role in ONE, TWO, THREE…(and I´ve been told that it is as intense/hot as the romance in Simone Elkeles´ books and that I can build up a relationship like Stephanie Perkins – yes my CPs and beta readers are the best :-)), but the friendships in Natalya´s life are vital to the story and to her. I remember how important my friends were to me in high school (and still are), so that may have influenced that part a bit.  Becca, Natalya´s best friend, is really a big part of the story and plays a big role.

Oh, and Natalya´s Russian heritage. It is an inherent part of the story.

3)  Why do I write what I do?

Because I fall in love with my characters…

That´s a very good question. *gains a bit of time* *get all dreamy*

I usually have an idea that doesn´t let go and then I start writing. I fall in love with the characters in my head, and then I want their story on paper.

I write what I want to read now (which is also what I would have wanted to read as a teen). The idea can come from everywhere. For ONE, TWO, THREE…I was talking about CENTER STAGE and re-watching it. It got me thinking about a ballerina who lost everything. How would she deal with that? It reminded me a bit of SAVE THE LAST DANCE, but then Natalya started “speaking”…and her story unraveled from there.

4) How does my writing process work?

I usually have an idea and a voice. and then I take it from there. I sometimes plot a little bit, but I´m a pantser at heart.

So my first draft has a tendency to need a LOT of work…

This is my reaction, while rereading my first drafts…

But I also see the potential, and I´m just excited to work on it even though the revision process kicks my butt…usually after a lot of work and help from CPs and beta readers….

After a few rounds of revision (including feedback of CPs and beta readers…)

I usually write early in the morning and then during my commute (in the train).

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And that was it 🙂 And now I pass the torch to three wonderful wonderful writers, who I´m very lucky to have “met” online and who all have books coming out in the next few months. They will be sharing their writing process with you all next Monday…

Meredith McCardle  is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. Her debut, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014.

Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She lives in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit. She’s also one of the bloggers behind the book blog The Bevy Bibliotheque. Her debut YA epic fantasy, Threats of Sky and Sea, will be available May 20, 2014

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy. Juliana already published several books, and her next one BREAKING FENCES (a NA contemporary romance) is coming out in June 2014.

writing

My word for 2014 is…

BALANCE

Source: Sarah Janes Studio Website Credit: Sarah Janes

When I looked back at my resolutions and goals for 2013, I realized that as always many were left in the dust and many are still dear to my heart (like spending more care-free moments with my hubby aka without the blackberry, doing more sports, baking and cooking more…).

On the 1st of January last year, I wrote as one of my goals:

Finding more of a balance. Work has been insane last year. And while I don´t think it will slow down in 2013, I need to find better ways to deal with it. Especially since my hubby will probably travel more and his schedule will get even busier.

I was right in the sense that work didn’t slow down and that my hubby was even busier. But that balance idea kind of didn’t happen and I yearn for it.  Part of it is to make sure I make the time to do the things that are important to me. Another element is to let go of the things I cannot control and of the negative talk (–> this one is really tough). You know the one I am talking about: “I should have had, I shouldn’t have had, it shouldn’t be, it will never…”

While I don’t have the magic recipe for it, I do have some goals which I hope will help in this regard:

  • Dedicate more time to the people important to me (including me)
  • Jog with my hubby at least once a week (yes it means waking up at 4.45 am but I do feel more serene after it)
  • Workout another time during the week
  • Revise DADDY’S LITTLE ANGEL (it should go to my dear and lovely CPs by beginning of February)
  • Query DADDY’S LITTLE ANGEL
  • Start a new project
  • Writing down every night 3 things that made me smile
  • Finally use Google Hangout to chat with some of the friends I made online
  • Join RWA
  • Read 50 books (I even started a Goodreads challenge :-))
  • Take more pictures

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

Query, revising, writing

What I learned last year from #Pitchwars

If you are on Twitter, you may have noticed the hashtag #PitchWars popping up on your feed. In the words of the amazing Brenda:

Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. Mentors also pick two alternates each in case their writer drops out of the contest. A special alternate showcase is held on some of the mentors’ blogs and the mentors will critique the alternates’ pitches. (…)

  • Simple truth: if you don´t try, you most likely won´t succeed

Last year, I hesitated and hesitated and hesitated before entering the contest.  I had started querying and I was getting some positive answers but overall I was not 100% sure of my manuscript – basically I had queried a tad too early. Gathering up some hidden courage, I tweeted what my book was about. And I got some positive answers both from mentors but also from other participants.

I ended up being selected by the truly wonderful Dahlia as an alternate. The very talented Ghenet was her first pick and the lovely Nikki Urang was her other alternate. (by the way Nikki is getting published next year, you should totally add her book to Goodreads).

  • Contests are subjective

Contests are subjective. Not everyone gets chosen. It´s basically like querying, it depends on a lot of factors. Dahlia ended up posting why she chose the people she did (her full post “This is my brain on Pitch Wars” is very enlightening, so yep you should totally read it)

ONE TWO THREE by Elodie Nowodazkij: Something must’ve been in the air the day I made my final selections, because I ended up with not one but two dance-themed manuscripts, which still makes me laugh because I know nothing about dance. However, I’m a big sucker for characters who are really passionate about their hobbies (…) For me, what was actually the biggest hook was a totally personal thing – Elodie’s MC, Natalya, comes from a Russian family, and having minored in Russian Studies in college, I happen to love when Russian culture plays into a story. Every agent and editor is going to have his or her sweet spots, and that’s one of mine!

Social media bonus: Elodie had actually tweeted about her ms at some point before Pitch Wars, and holy cow did her tweet about its premise stick in my brain. When you’re actually staring at your inbox hoping a certain something will pop into it, it’s a very good sign!  (…)

And just like querying, you won´t know unless you take the plunge. The waters may be cold and the waves may be crushing you but they recede after awhile, leaving you ready to start anew.

  • My manuscript got stronger

Dahlia also went the extra mile and polished more than just my pitch. She read pages and gave me very very detailed feedback. Feedback that ended up making my manuscript so much stronger. I also got feedback from a ninja mentor (aka Danielle Ellison) which took the time to tell me what was working and what wasn’t.

  • Meeting new people/reading amazing stories

A team spirit developed. People cheered on the sidelines. Connections were made. I ended up reading some amazing books.

This year, there are more mentors, even more agents participating. I may try to enter DADDY´S LITTLE ANGEL (if I´m ready) but even if I don´t, I know I´ll encourage others and I´ll cheer for them.

If you have a manuscript ready to query but you still feel like an extra pair of eyes will help you out – I say, check it out!

writing

My writing schedule or how to make sure I’m ready for PITCH WARS

Ready. Set. Write! over the summer really helped me get into a writing schedule and I think I need to implement another one to finish this revision.

My goal?

Enter my manuscript into PITCH WARS, which means I have until the end of November to polish it. Last year, I was an alternate in PITCH WARS (with the extraordinary Dahlia) and I learned so much. Plus I met many wonderful writers (read amazing manuscripts!!!).

Submission window is on 12/2

And it’s the perfect contest for GUILTY (or DADDY’s LITTLE ANGEL, I’m still unsure about the title) since I haven’t queried it yet.

To make this happen, I need to sit my butt on the chair (while keeping a balance and not growing a saggy middle–in my manuscript :P)

  • Monday mornings: revise from 5am to 6.15am
  • Tuesday mornings: Jog from 5am to 5.30am – revise in the train to work
  • Wednesday mornings: revise from 5am to 6.15am
  • Thursday mornings: workout from 5am to 5.30am – revise in the train to work
  • Friday mornings: revise from 5am to 6.15am

During the weekends: revise at least an hour on Saturday and an hour on Sunday.

I am allowed to take one day off from waking up early but need to jog at least once a week. With this schedule, I should be able to finish this revision round by November 12th.

November 12th. This should be feasible, no?

Tell me, do you have a writing schedule?

personal, writing

My WiP drives me insane and keeps me sane (and other writerly truths)

This sign now hangs over our computer…

Not too long ago, Katy Upperman wrote a post entitled My WiP is Making Me Fat (& other writerly truths). I loved this post so much, that I decided to make the same type of list.

My WiP drives me insane and keeps me sane. This revision is draining me out and is going sooo slowly. Sometimes, I want to hide away from it  but mostly the entire process keeps me sane. It gives me an outlet, a way to express myself and get lost.

I always feel like my English isn’t good enough…As it’s my second language, I freak out about the small things and second guess myself. All. The. Time.

A few years ago, I posted my first query for my first manuscript on AbsoluteWrite without having researched much. And thought it had to be great. I’ve learned a lot since then.

I want people to fall in love with my characters.

I want to move people with my words.

I daydream about having more time to write.

I don’t outline. But I think I should learn how to do it.

I write in the train during my commute and sometimes wake up at 4.45am to get more writing in.

Sometimes, I ponder about my publishing road, i.e. what would be the best for me?

Not many people know about my writing.

I have the most talented writer friends. Really. They’re amazing.

My writer friends help me stay grounded.

My husband believes in me and encourages my writing. I am so thankful for him.

What are your writerly truths?

Flash Fiction, writing

Walk The Plank: Adventure Style or my first flash fiction in months…

You´ve heard about the YA Buccaneers, right? No? Go check them out here.  And you can totally follow those wonderful ladies on Twitter.

One of their awesome features is “Walk The Plank”:  Walk The Plank is all about writing Flash Fiction – in other words, short snippets that make the biggest impact. And the goal: Write a flash fiction story in 200 words or fewer, excluding the title, around the monthly theme.

  • This month´s theme is Adventure.
  • For an extra challenge, begin your story with the words, “I set sail” (these three words will be included in the word count).
  • And for an even bigger challenge, use the same beginning words and end with the words: “my adventure continues!” (also included in the word count).
  • For those who want to prove their Flash Fiction prowess, hit all of the above challenges, PLUS, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

This is my first flash fiction in months!

I set sail on Wednesday. Or at least I think it was Wednesday. My mind plays tricks on me and the scorching heat doesn’t help. Mom and Dad had warned me about sailing alone.

But I wasn’t alone.

Aidan stood on the boat when I pulled in the marina, his cap low on his forehead and his dimple showing as he waved my way.

My heart stopped beating.

I ran my hand through my wavy hair, checked my make-up one last time in the mirror. It was light. You can’t go sailing and go all out at the same time.

And then I strolled to the boat as if my entire body wasn’t melting at the fact he actually came. He came!

Now he’s gone.

The back of my throat tightens and one more time I glance back to where he drowned. The sun glistens on the water. Peaceful.

My fingers slip and each of my muscles hurt, the salt on my lips tastes bitter. Aidan kissed those lips, not too long ago, before he slipped away.

And I have no idea how I´ll keep my promise to him. His words as his body disappeared. “Make sure my adventure continues.”

Ready Set Write, revising, writing

Let´s sign up for Ready. Set. Write! *happy dance*

It´s finally time to sign up for Ready. Set. Write! The wonderful idea of the lovely and talented Alison Miller 🙂

Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin FunkJaime Morrow, and I are hosting this summer writing intensive Ready. Set. WRITE! and we’d LOVE for you to join us!

  • You can join us now or later…
  • You can decide to write 100 pages a week or simply revise one sentence.
  • Whatever will help YOU achieve your goals and whatever YOU feel comfortable with.

We even have a button!  (created by Erin).

ready set write button

So what is this exactly?

Purpose: for drafting/revising/writing novels, flash fiction or short stories—whatever! As long as we’re writing!

Timeline: We’re kicking things off today, but the REAL goal-setting starts tomorrow! Please join us for What’s Up Wednesday and tell us what you plan to be working on (in the What I’m Writing section). Don’t know about What’s Up Wednesday? Check it out here and here. And here.

We’ll keep the awesomeness going every Wednesday until August 28 and we’d love for you to participate as many weeks as you can. Like Alison, I love reading snippets, so don´t hesitate to share away!

Some Other Really Cool Stuff…

Twitter parties! We’re going to try (operative word = TRY) to host a weekly twitter writing/revising party in which we basically choose a start time to write and then pop back in on twitter several hours later recapping our progress. Sounds fun, right?!

Our Twitter hashtag…cue music….#ReadySetWrite

BUT to do that we kind of have to be twitter-connected. Below, you´ll see our Twitter handles, and we’d love for you to leave your twitter handle in the comments so we can make sure we’re following you too!

Our twitter handles:

Giveaway! The five of us LOVE giveaways so we’re including one as extra motivation.

Mid-way through (mid-July), one lucky writer will win a Writer´s Care package…it´s going to be a package full of fun surprises…

Something you simply do not want to miss.

Keep track of your progress and be prepared to update on the rafflecopter post in July.

SO, are you ready for Ready. Set. WRITE?! Commit to a summer of writing by signing up on the linky below! And don’t forget to post tomorrow—share your goals and tell us what you’ll be writing/revising!

In the meantime, write a little. Or a lot. Grab the button and spread the word! And get ready to Ready. Set. WRITE!

Sign up here: