Review Excerpts

Monday, February 5, 2018

Racing and Pacing

I've finally arrived at the final chapter of my novella-in-progress (okay, there's going to be a little epilogue, too), and as always, I'm sprinting toward the finish line. I don't know what it is about endings that gets me to write faster. Maybe it's because since I write in order, I've been thinking about the ending for so long, it's planned out spectacularly well in my head. Maybe I just want the accomplishment of getting the damn thing done.

Either way, as I ponder this, I sometimes worry that this phenomenon affects my pacing. I ran into this issue a bit with Seductive Suspect - so much happened at the end of the book, I had to go back and balance out the beginning a bit. (And then that all got chopped up in editing anyway, but I digress.) Same thing here - word count-wise, these last two chapters are taking up, like, a third of the book. I'm going to have to go back and expand on those earlier chapters, I think, but for now, I just want to get to the end before I start working on the smaller details.

Then again, as I ponder this even more, I wonder if this issue crops up often due to the structure of romance stories. It depends on the structure of the story, of course, but there is a certain...format? template? that focuses on the journey of the characters getting together, and then explicitly stating what happens when they finally accomplish that. Or, as I sometimes joke around about, there's the climax, and then there's the climax. ;)

I've done it both ways, either saving the big bedroom scene for the end, or peppering them in throughout. For me, it seems like shorter stories are more likely to have just one explicit scene in them. Obviously, those scenes require words, but since it's expected in my genre, does that *really* count toward the overall balance of a work?

I think I've been navel-gazing for too long, instead of just writing the damn story and figuring out the more minor things later on. Also, I should turn off the word count display to avoid more crazymaking, but that's a different story for a different day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Happy New Year! (Also, Let's Talk About Word Count, Part the Next)

Happy January! I hope your new year has gotten off to a great start! I was so determined to kick off the new year with good writing It's been all right. I've gotten a chapter done in this first half of the first month, but it's not like it's the longest chapter ever.

So recently, I posted about how I was worried about going over the suggested word count for an anthology submission. Because life would be boring without variety, now I'm worried about not hitting the minimum word count for this novella. ARGH. I'm dutifully following the outline I crafted, hitting all the points I want to hit, but that number in the bottom left-hand corner doesn't seem to be growing at the same pace.

As I was looking over my outline around November (according to Google Drive's "last edited" line), I thought something was missing. I added in another scene to balance things out, yet I wasn't 100% convinced I should write it. Now it's looking like I'll *have* to, so I've been brainstorming on ways to make it not seem like an afterthought.

I'm sure at a certain point I'll do what I did for the short story and just turn the stupid display off so it's not making me (as) crazy. For now, I'm just going to keep plugging away and see where I land at the end. It'll work out one way or another, and if I have to go back and elaborate on certain scenes, so be it. But really, you'd think I'd be better at estimating by now! Maybe that should be a goal for next year....

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Hope you all had fun celebrating whatever you celebrate! I finished my short story, persuaded a friend to give it an extra proofread, and submitted it the night of the 23rd, so I sailed through the holidays with a clear writing conscience! (It's well before the deadline, so I won't hear anything either way for a couple months.) We're leaving for a mini-vacation tomorrow, and then Mr. Landen and I are going to FINALLY watch the latest BBC adaptation of And Then There Were None over the weekend, so I'll probably take a few more days off from writing. Once the new year hits, though, back to the novella-in-progress I go!

Here's to a happy, healthy, and productive 2018!

Friday, December 15, 2017

To the Finish Line! (Also, Let's Talk About Word Count)

The end is in sight for the current short story (which does have a title now, and no, it's not what I previously posted). I think I'll definitely be able to get the first draft done by the end of the weekend. Then comes proofing/editing, and I'll see which of my friends I can sweet talk into looking it over for me. I have plenty of wiggle room with the deadline, but I like to get things in early.

What I don't have as much wiggle room with is the word count. The "preferred" word count is 3K - 6K words, but according to the guidelines, 2K - 7K is acceptable, if necessary. I can read between the lines and know that the story has a better chance of being accepted if I keep it under 6K, which I don't think I'll have a problem doing. I'm quickly approaching that limit, though, and it's affecting certain choices I need to make.

I know I really should turn off the word count display, write the damn story, and then edit it down later. But at the same time, it's making me focus on what's important. This is erotic romance, after all, so as my friends and I like to joke, there's the climax and the "climax". The plot stuff is done, I'm just giving my characters their well-deserved happy ever after. (And yes, the submission guidelines state that a scene like that has to be in there.)

As always, there's no good answer. I'm sure I can put together something submission-worthy and get it to the right size. I just need to whine about it here a little. ;)

(Anecdote time! Years ago, a friend in my informal writing group told us he'd submitted a short story for a magazine, I think it was. He got a rejection letter, and we all commiserated. But then it came out that the submission guidelines asked for stories with a word count around 1K - 3K...and he sent them a 7K-word story. The ship had sailed at that point, but privately, some of us were all NOOOOOOOO!

So yeah, don't do that.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Title Woes Part the Millionth

As planned, I've put the novella aside for now, and I started the anthology submission. I've frequently said here that titles either come to me right away or they don't. For this short story...I got nothing. Nothing good, anyway.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't say I have nothing, as I have been brainstorming a few ideas with friends. A lot of what I came up with just seems so generic, though, like it could apply to a hundred other stories. Also listed in my criteria was that I don't want the title to give away any major plot points. Unfortunately, with a ~5K word story, there's not a whole lot to go on except major plot points.

But then I realized something: Does a title matter as much in an anthology? I mean, obviously I do want something better than average, but if it does get accepted, it's probably not likely that the title of my story will make or break whether or not a reader buys the book. I guess it also depends on how people read anthologies—do they start from the beginning and blaze right through, or do they start with the title that grabs them the most and then jump around? (In what should come as a surprise to no one, I'm a "start at the beginning" person.)

I don't have a good answer. Right now, the frontrunner is "Another Hero". Which, yeah, I know. Snooooooore. It's not set in stone, and I still have some time to figure it out. At least I won't be kicking myself too much if I can't come up with anything better.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Multi-Tasking (or maybe not so much)

So I've been plugging away at the novella-in-progress. Not as quickly as I would have hoped, but it's moving along. I'd given myself the tentative goal of finishing the first draft by the end of 2017. It would have been a stretch, and I'm not sure I would have succeeded, but it was within the realm of possibility.

But then! (And this is a good excuse, I swear!) Every so often I remember to check my usual spots for anthology submission calls. Admittedly, it's been a long time since I submitted anything like that. With the calls I see, usually one of two things happens: either the theme/content doesn't interest me that much, or by the time I see the call, the deadline/word count combination is near impossible. 

Last week, I finally stumbled across something that caught my interest, had a short-ish word count requirement (2K - 8K words, though 3K - 7K is preferred), AND the deadline isn't until February 1, 2018. Woo hoo! Totally manageable! I can do that!

Except...I'm in the middle of this novella. And I'm sure I've said dozens of times on here that working on simultaneous projects isn't really my thing. But new shiny fun submission call!

My plan is to finish up this current chapter of the novella, and then knock out the short story. It might not be the speediest "knocking out", but I'm confident I can get it done well before the deadline. I already have my idea and my outline, so I'm hoping everything will go smoothly. And once that's in, I can get back to my novella and hopefully pick up some momentum again. Wish me luck on my multi-tasking!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seductive Suspect Virtual Tour!

The Seductive Suspect virtual tour kicks off tomorrow, with interviews, guest posts, and fun new material at every stop - how exciting! The full schedule is below. I encourage you to check out all these great sites, show some love to the hosts, and enter to win the giveaway!

October 23: Erotica For All
October 23: Fabulous and Brunette
October 24: The Reading Addict
October 25: Up 'Til Dawn Book Blog
October 26: Long and Short Reviews 

October 27: Lock That Door!
October 30: Books, Dreams,Life
October 31: The Avid Reader
November 1: Deal Sharing Aunt
November 2: Wendi Zwaduk ~ Romance To Make Your Heart Race
November 3: Romance Novel Giveaways