Fruit Picking and Cobbler

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A couple of times a year, hubby and I like to go fruit picking. Now is the time of year when peaches are available. Last weekend, we decided to take advantage, despite the kind warning on the farm’s website. Unfortunately, a lot of the peaches had been dinged up from a previous hailstorm.

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We decided to take a chance and visit the farm anyway—especially because they had a harvest of grapes, too.

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The drive out took a while, over an hour. And I grumbled about it a little, despite some picturesque countryside scenery.

Once we got there, the flying critters made me grumble a little more. But a few minutes after we arrived, I loosened up and enjoyed myself. It’s easy to do that when you see a child biting into a fresh-picked peach. The toothless grin and glee. Peach juice running down their hand. Too cute.

Then there’s the farm serenity. And nature.

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We’ve got a system down where my husband picks the peaches—he’s a tall guy, and the long arms come in handy for reaching high up the trees—and I hold the box.

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We only picked eight good ones. Usually, we get a dozen. But the dings from the hail made the pickin’s slim. We also may have waited too late in the season.

All that mattered to me was leaving with enough to make a cobbler. Mission accomplished!

A few days later, once the peaches ripened, I made this Easy Peach Cobbler. I’ve made this three dessert times now, and there is definitely a difference when using fresh peaches. The cobbler is juicier. More flavorful. So delicious.

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Side note 1: Not that I’d throw out cobbler made from store-bought peaches. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Side note 2: Did you peep that hunk of butter in the pic above? It looks more innocent when it’s melted and poured into a baking dish. And you don’t even see it when the ingredients are mixed altogether—you can almost forget it’s there. Almost.

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When you taste the baked goodness, oh boy, you know the butter is there.

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One of my favorite parts is the edges that get that yummy cobbler crunch.  Dee-lish.

As far as the grapes, I didn’t make anything with them. Just used them for snacking. Maybe one day, I’ll try my hand at jam.

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Have you done any fruit picking lately? Got any good fruit cobbler recipes to share?

Free RomCom Book, Launch Results

If you’re interested in a fun, funny, breezy summer/beach read, today is the last day to get Fake It Til She Makes It for free on Amazon. My debut romantic comedy novella has been trending in categories for Top 100 Free Amazon Bestsellers, and the free book promo ends today.

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If you’re one of my fave folks who’ve already downloaded the book, I can’t thank you enough. Because of you, this debut launch that has gone above and beyond my expectations.

I must’ve set the bar too low in my mind, because you all pushed that bar aside and shattered it. *Kapow*

On Saturday, July 20, my official launch day, I hyperventilated and flailed my wrists until they almost snapped when I saw the book listed on two categories for Top Free 100 Amazon Bestsellers. Multiracial and Interracial Romance category at #24 and the Romantic Comedy category at #66.

By the end of the day, it peaked at #16 on the first category, and there were 665 downloads within 48 hours.

If you heard a faint screaming off in the distance that day, now you know why.

On Tuesday, the book continued trending in the same two categories, and it cracked into the Contemporary Romance category, too. Here’s where things stand as I type this on Wednesday morning.

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I am incredibly humbled and grateful for how well this book launch has gone. The feedback is inspiring me to keep writing, to stay motivated, and to keep chasing my dream. Feeling grateful. Feeling thankful. Feeling supported.

 

Want to join my email list to find out about my next book? Sign up here. Don’t worry, I won’t flood your inbox, because I don’t like when that happens to me, either.

Looking for a Free, Fun, Funny Summer Read?

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If your summer isn’t complete without a fun, easy, beach read, check out my debut romantic comedy novella, Fake It Til She Makes It. Even better—it’s free as an e-book on Amazon (and Amazon UK) now through Wednesday, July 24. Woot!

You: Cool. What’s it about?

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You: Gimme a teaser.

Nora has the opportunity to land her dream job at a popular magazine. There’s just one problem: a teeny mistake during her interview. The employer thinks she has a boyfriend when she really doesn’t. And they’ve invited her and her so-called significant other to the company’s upcoming weekend retreat.

Jacob, her ex-boyfriend, is all for helping Nora, especially because it’ll help him. Ever since they broke up five years ago, his dating life has suffered. He’ll take Nora to the company weekend retreat and act like she’s her boyfriend if it’ll give his dating life a boost.

An ex. A fake relationship. A company weekend retreat. What could possibly go wrong?

You: Sounds like trouble. Fun trouble. Tell me more.

You can read an excerpt, if you haven’t already.

FISMI--What Readers are saying

You: Your book will make me laugh?

Yes, maybe out loud.

You: Will it make me cry?

Er, probably not. But a reader says, it’ll “give you heart eyes.”

You: I like heart eyes. That’s one of my favorite emojis. I’m in.

Great! Here’s the link to Amazon again. But wait, there’s more. (Boy, that was cheesy. But I just can’t help myself.)

Last fall, I posted a serialized story called The Bachelorette Blogger. Once a week for nine weeks, I released a chapter at a time, featuring the cute, new relationship between Zoe Claiborne and Trevor Dobbs. Now, the short story is available as a one-hour short read called I Run Sometimes. It’s about 35 pages long, and is on Amazon for free now through Wednesday, July 24, too.

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You: You’re pushing it now. But give me the pitch anyway, lady, since I’ve read this far.

Bachelorette Blogger, Zoe, loves dishing out her dating woes online. Although she’s pretty sure her mom, Marcy, hates it. 

They both love a good bet, though. So when Marcy challenges Zoe to one, she can’t say no. 

Even if the bet allows her mom to play matchmaker? Even if she risks giving up her blog forever? Um, sure. Her mom’s matchmaking attempts are always duds anyway.

Trevor doesn’t expect much when his interior decorator tries to set him up with her daughter, Zoe. 

But when a blind date involves speed dating at a modern art museum? Definitely a first. 

Despite the bizarre setup and wacky art around them, he feels a magnetic connection with Zoe. And he has only five minutes to convince her to give him a shot. 

You: Sounds cute.

I hope you’ll check out my books and enjoy reading them. If you’d like to know what I’ll be working on next, join my email list.

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Fake It Til She Makes It, an Excerpt

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Have you ever gone to a company weekend retreat with your ex-boyfriend and acted like you were still in a relationship? Nope. Me, neither.

That’s what makes fiction so fun: we can read the what-if’s without the real-life commitment and drama.

Fake It Til She Makes It, a romantic comedy novella, will be available on Amazon for free from July 20 – 24. Below is an excerpt from chapter one to whet the ol’ appetite.

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Nora Leeds wanted nothing more than to be the new staff writer for LivBold magazine’s Relationships section. Her résumé was perfect. Her writing samples were succinct, witty, and informative. And her blog, Single Girl Speaks, where she vented with other single women about tough times with relationships and dating, had just hit 500,000 followers. Writing and managing the blog had helped Nora get the interview, and this major milestone was another plus.

All she had to do was wow them with her charm.

Nora rode the Metro to Dupont Circle and strolled confidently through the revolving doors of the magazine’s building. She checked in with the security guard, made her way up to the twelfth floor, introduced herself to the receptionist, and took a seat in the lobby.

Shoulders back, chin high, disposition bright. Soon I’ll be meeting Susan Grace.

Susan Grace, the editor-in-chief of her favorite magazine. According to the media industry, the woman walked on water. She turned LivBold from a little-known publication to an award-winning one. And this amazing woman would be Nora’s boss. If Nora could burst from excitement she would.

She straightened up in the plush chair and continued her self-pep-talk.

I will get out of my dead-end marketing-assistant job. I will do something awesome with my life. I will—

A faint vibration caught her off guard.

Her phone. She thought she’d turned it off. But better to have a reminder now than during the interview.

When she saw the caller’s name, her excitement bubble popped like a wet balloon on concrete.

Jacob! Why is he calling? And why now?

Jacob was her ex. The ex. The guy she thought she would marry, until he moved to New York to become an actor. Not that his decision upset her. Who was she to come between a man and his dream? She wasn’t that kind of girl.

She wasn’t the kind of girl who moved on easily, either.

And though their relationship ended five years ago, seeing his name on her phone was like digging into an old wound with a salty toothpick.

As the vibrations continued, her breathing quickened.

Breathe-breathe. Buzz-buzz. Breathe-breathe.

Nora had a million reasons not to answer the phone. Mainly, what if Susan Grace walked up mid-conversation? How awkward. Also, what would Nora have to say to him after five years? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That alone counted for at least five hundred thousand of the million reasons.

Yet there were a million reasons she wanted to answer Jacob’s call. She wanted to know how he was doing. Was something wrong? Had he developed some bizarre disease, and this was his last call to say goodbye? An unlikely scenario, but her stomach clenched at the idea anyway.

She took a deep breath and hit the Answer button.

“Hello,” she said casually.

“Nora, hey. I thought I was about to get your voicemail.”

His voice still sounded the same, like soft butter on a stack of pancakes.

Be cool.

“I wasn’t going to answer,” she hurried. “I’m about to go in…” He didn’t need to know about the interview. “I’m busy.”

“Then why’d you answer the phone?” He was still matter-of-fact Jacob. “I would’ve left a message or sent a text.”

She glanced at the receptionist, who had stopped typing. “I think I have a minute. What’s up, Jacob?”

“I wanted to let you know I moved back to DC. Last week.”

Wait, what?

“I thought I should tell you, in case we bumped into each other,” he continued. “I didn’t want it to be weird.”

As weird as her heart racing like a gerbil on steroids?

“Okay” was all she could say.

Tell him thanks for the info. Say goodbye. Hang up. Now!

He cleared his throat. “I was also wondering if, uh, you’d like to get a cup of coffee sometime. To catch up. I feel like there’s stuff we didn’t get to talk about before I left for New York.”

“Nora?” a voice called out.

Nora looked up to see that the voice belonged to Susan Grace. Not the receptionist. Not an assistant. Susan Grace, herself, and all her media-titan magnificence. Her brown skin, striking eyes, and prominent cheekbones were made up like an Estee Lauder ad. A long, braided ponytail swept over her shoulder, like an elegant mane. She wore a pair of black, cigarette-style cropped pants, and a cream, fitted blazer. A red, silk scarf floated around her neck, topping off the look. She stepped closer in expensive, black stilettos.

Nora was entranced and completely caught off guard.

Instead of the bright demeanor she’d practiced—chin up, winning smile, shoulders back—her hand cupped the phone, her shoulders hunched, and her eyebrows furrowed in angst.

She quickly slathered on a smile that stretched so wide it nearly hurt her cheeks.

“Yes, will do,” she said into the phone. “Thanks for calling. Bye.” She stood and shook Susan’s hand. “Sorry about that. A work call.”

“No problem. Let’s head to my office.”

The receptionist smirked as Nora passed by. Was that directed at her? Had the woman overheard the exchange with Susan? Or worse, had she overheard the call?

It didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting this job, taking her life to the next level, and….

Did she say “yes, will do” to Jacob? Did that mean she accidentally agreed to have coffee with him?

Crap.

Like what you read? Get Fake It Til She Makes It on Amazon. Soft launch is happening now.

Ahem, or if you wait until Saturday, July 20, you can enjoy the free promotion.

 

Coming Soon, Fake It Til She Makes It

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Soon I’ll be introducing my debut book, Fake It Til She Makes It, a novella about 140 pages long. I like to call it a #FFFRomance: Funny, Fast-Paced, Fun Romantic Comedy.

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An ex-boyfriend. A fake relationship. A company weekend retreat. What can possibly go wrong?

Jacob wants to make amends…

Five years ago, Jacob Lancaster moved to New York to become an actor, leaving behind his ex-girlfriend, Nora. His dating life has suffered ever since.

Now he’s back in Washington, DC for good and wants to smooth things over with her. Maybe it’ll get him back on karma’s good side, and give his blah dating life a boost.

Nora needs a fake boyfriend…

Thanks to a teeny mistake at an interview, bachelorette blogger Nora Leeds lands her dream job at a magazine.

The problem? The employer thinks she has a boyfriend, when she really doesn’t. And they’ve invited her and her so-called significant other to the company’s upcoming weekend retreat. But that’s a problem a fake relationship can fix, right?

The e-book will be on Amazon soon. Once it’s available, I’ll let you know here. Can’t wait!

4 Things I Work On When I Start a Novel, Part 2

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Last week, I blogged part one of this topic. Please check it out, if you haven’t already, because the list below piggybacks on part one.

Here are four more things I work on when I start writing a novel.

1. “Stuff That Can Go Wrong” list

I created this concept after banging my head over ways to create tension in a story. I heard critique partners say, “Ramp up the conflict” or “Raise the stakes.” But I couldn’t figure out how.

Then I thought, what are some of the worst things that could go wrong with this character? And voila, the aptly titled, Stuff That Can Go Wrong list was born.

With a WIP, I work on this list after I’ve sorted out the Goal-Motivation-Conflict of the story. It’s an unedited, no-holds-barred, rambling mess of ideas that keeps the protagonist’s bum on the hot seat. It also helps me identify key turning points for the plot.

This step has become one of my favorite parts of the writing process.

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2. “Choices That Characters Make” list

This goes hand-in-hand with the section above. It’s a list of actionable steps the protagonist could take to achieve their goals.

Creating characters who are too passive has been an issue that I’ve had to work on over the years. This step has helped me develop characters who are more active.

I also discover subgoals, which are a great way of ratcheting up conflict as a character works toward their main goal. Between this step and the one above, I usually have enough to create a loose outline.

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3. One sentence summary

After I finished writing a previous book, I started working on its’ one sentence summary. Well, it was more like a run-on sentence summary separated by lots of semi-colons.

That was a clear indicator that something wasn’t right.

My story was too complicated and convoluted to boil down to one sentence. I was trying to do too much. It was really two or three books, not one. Lesson learned.

It’s more efficient to nail down the one sentence summary before writing the book. If the one sentence summary is hard to write, or not compelling, it could mean that the book needs work, the book’s plot is too complex, or the characters’ goals aren’t clear. It’s better to figure that out sooner rather than later.

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4. Jacket copy

I love reading jacket copy and book descriptions on Amazon. It’s the hook that lures me in to click the Buy button.

Working on the jacket copy for my WIP takes me out of the writer’s perspective and into the reader’s shoes. It helps me realize if my story doesn’t have a hook. And fast.

Jacket copy also serves as an imaginary fence for the story. It keeps me from veering too far as I write. It’s also a get-hype tool. Having good jacket copy with a cool hook gets me pumped as I work through the drafts of my book.

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How to Write a One-Page Synopsis by Writers Write gives a fantastic breakdown of what to put in paragraphs, one, two, and three.

Also check out my post, Writing a Novel Synopsis, a Book’s Highlight Reel

Do you have anything to add, or thoughts about the list above? 

4 Things I Work On When I Start a Novel

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As I begin writing my next book, I thought it might be cool to share how I start the process. Also, I’d love to hear what steps YOU take when you start a new manuscript.

But enough about you. Back to me…

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What was I thinking about? Oh yes, world domination.

With every new writing project, I’ve been fine-tuning my approach. I’ve got an attack plan now, and the list below is it.

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on writing a book and haven’t been published. Here, I’m sharing what I learn and struggle with as I work toward the goal of improving my craft and getting published.

There’s a bit of bad news with this list, though. I still struggle. It’s coming a bit easier. But there are things I’m working on that will, hopefully, make my manuscripts better.

1. GMC

Goal-Motivation-Conflict, or GMC for short. When I learned this acronym of awesomeness, it was like the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, and I saw a rainbow of labradoodle puppies.

Once I figure out the GMC for my characters—what they want, why they want it, and what’s standing in their way from getting it—I have the backbone of the story.

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The road to a sound GMC is a lot easier when goals are tangible. For instance, he wants to buy the farm. Or she wants to get the promotion. Or she wants to solve the cold case. Or he wants to develop the life-saving vaccine…

“Make your characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Tangible goals makes it easier to create actionable items for the hero, as well as obstacles that might be in the way.

Speaking of obstacles…

2. Antagonist

I’ve underestimated the power of the antagonist. I write romance books, which has made it tougher for me to figure out how an antagonist fits in the equation.

Although, with the enemies-to-lovers story I’m working on now, it’s pretty fun to have the protagonists also be each other’s antagonists.

But for good measure, I have a secondary character who will serve as another antagonist, mounting pressure on the heroine and hero, and stirring the pot a little. I have a feeling she’s going to come in handy at turning points in the plot.

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3. Trope

I used to think tropes were, well, trite. But not anymore. Now, I love them. They are trends that readers and publishers like. They are battle-tested, tried and true.

I correlate the trope concept to going on vacation, and deciding whether to do the tourist stuff or go off the beaten path.

Yeah, the tourist route may be a little crowded. But it’s a tourist route for a reason. People know they’re going to see the best sights, get the best selfie pics, and stop at the best gelato shop on the way.

Following a trope keeps me grounded and on a path to somewhere good. It’s my novel-version of GPS.

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4. Theme

This continues to be tricky for me. There are so many themes out there, it’s daunting to figure out which one is the right one for each story.

Sometimes I don’t figure this out until I start writing the story. On page thirty, I’ll have a lightning-bolt moment, and it’ll become clear.

But getting a good feel for the character’s motivation, and tapping into their background, can also help identify the theme.

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The list of items above, for the most part, is how I attack a new story. But the order changes. There’s also a lot of jumping between one item to another. Exploring one item can glean insight into another.

Exploring. That’s a good way of describing this part of the novel-writing process, isn’t it? What do you tackle first when you start writing a manuscript?

Want to check out more? Here’s Part 2 of this post.

At 15, a girl became a hit author. And I was…

Somehow I missed this crazy, out-of-the-box author news in 2010. That year, a 15-year-old named Amy Zhang became a Young Adult author sensation.

I can’t even imagine. There’s no way I would’ve been doing that at age 15.

When I was 15, it was 1991.

I was struggling in geometry and probably still pinch-rolling my jeans.

I spent my spare time listening to the R&B group, BoyzIIMen. I liked that they were a group of black guys who wore argyle sweater vests.

I loved Nirvana, and the grunge sound they created. I spent a lot of time trying to decipher the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit. I still haven’t figured out what that song means, but it doesn’t matter.

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At 15, I started wearing perfume, but not much makeup.

I wore braces and hadn’t gone on my first date yet.

I was writing, but nothing that could’ve been considered a cohesive, 200-plus-page body of work. Definitely not a novel.

But not Amy Zhang…

At age 15, she was signing a publishing contract with HarperCollins.

“It took her a few months to score an agent, and a mere three days for her agent to sell the manuscript to HarperCollins.” — Refinery29

Zhang woke up at 4 a.m. every day for a month to write her novel, Falling Into Place.

At 4 a.m., I was probably sleeping like the dead.

When Amy Zhang was in college, she was on a national book tour.

In college, I was touring the dining halls on campus, looking for which one served the best pancakes.

In the Refinery29 article, Zhang mentions that it was a challenge to balance her regular life and her writing career at such a young age.

I had a hard time balancing my classes and busy social life. Add a writing career to the mix? It would’ve been a total disaster.

Now, Amy Zhang is 22, and she’s working on her third novel. It’s amazing to learn about her and her early publishing career.

I believe in finding inspiration through people of any age, and I’ve found inspiration in 22-year-old author Amy Zhang.

Take me down memory lane: What were you doing at age 15?

 

Photo by FOTOGRAFIA .GES on Unsplash

There’s Something To Be Said for…

I’m in between writing books. I finished one, and it’s ready for an editor’s critique. In a future post, I’ll discuss the process that I’m tweaking to start writing my next book.

But for now, I’m reflecting. I’m feeling introspective. I have the Thinking Man pose.

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Several things come to mind. Okay, 8 things.

  • There’s something to be said for starting a manuscript

There are blank pages on a screen or notebook, and writers decide to fill them. Not one page, but dozens, hundreds. It takes courage, imagination, dedication, and a little insanity. But it’s okay. We were born for this.

  • There’s something to celebrate for getting past the middle

Writing through the midpoint has been a quagmire that’s pulled me down. Then it became clear when I read posts like this one by Now Novel and this funny, insightful one by Chuck Wendig. The solution is one easy word. Wham! Hit the reader, or the character, with something unexpected.

  • There’s a party to be had when reaching THE END

Reaching the end is huge. Huuuuge. Not everybody finishes a manuscript and gets to write The End. So when we do, there should be a “Yay, me!” moment. I have a party for one at home. I play happy music and dance like no one’s watching. With the blinds closed.

  • There’s something good to come of rewriting

After finishing a manuscript, the idea of rewriting makes me want to swallow rocks of coal. But as I go over what I’ve written, I realize that it’s a necessity. I don’t really hit my stride until I’m 2/3 of the way through a WIP, which means I now expect to rewrite the first 2/3. *groan*

  • There’s more to glean from revising and editing

Revising and editing is like buffing and polishing a sculpture. It becomes show-worthy. The writing becomes more robust, richer, cleaner. It may seem subtle as you do it, but it’s a noticeable, powerful shift. Revising and editing also provides another opportunity to work out kinks in a plot. Or holes.

  • There’s something necessary about getting a professional editor

I love beta-readers. They spot important things we writers miss. But nothing beats the trained eye of a professional editor, who’s motivated by a paycheck from you. They go in-depth, providing invaluable insight. They analyze the big-picture flaws and the little-detail hangups. And their feedback will help make you a better writer, overall, in addition to making the specific manuscript better.

  • There’s something to learn from writing three books

In the screenwriting business, they say to write three scripts, beginning to end, before trying to pitch.

“You write, you learn. And three scripts is a minimum for knowing the craft…You will have faced the peaks and valleys of the entire scripting process multiple times. You will have started to develop your own approach to the craft, your own writer’s voice.” — Go Into The Story 

It’s hard to write one 300-word novel, let alone three. But what about three 100-page books? That seems doable. It provides the chance to hone the process, nail down the three-act structure, establish a writing groove, determine a writing pace, and finish a WIP.

  • There’s something important about setting goals

I’ve been working on this. I need to have something to shoot for. Something measurable. My favorite site, The Creative Penn, has a great post called, What’s Your Definition of Success as a Writer? How Do You Measure It?

Reading it and watching the video is helping me develop a greater understanding of what I want.

I’m working on a new novella. I’ve written three already. The first two need more work, which proves the theory in the screenwriting business of writing three scripts. The third novella, I think, is more promising. Since it’s a novella, my next step will probably be to self-publish it. I’m excited about working toward this goal, and will keep you posted on that process.

For comment: How do you fill in the sentence, “There’s something to be said for…?”

A Smorgasbord of Writing Ideas

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“You’re a writer? Cool.” I often hear people say that to me, which is nice. Their tone is positive, encouraging. Then about one-third of them will follow up with, “I’ve got this great idea that you could turn into a book.”

They all mean well, and I like to hear their ideas. Love it, in fact. The trouble is, I have too many ideas already, a smorgasbord of them, swarming around in my head.

I’m not alone, right?

There’s this salad-worth of ideas. Not a tiny, cute, side salad. We’re talking, a big entree portion. Like the kind you get at Cheesecake Factory. Where there’s so much stuff on it, you can hardly see the lettuce.

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Sometimes, the ideas come in waves

Yesterday was one of those days. Ideas were flowing like the River Jordan. It must’ve been some sort of spiritual-led experience, because I couldn’t have thought of all of that stuff myself.

The ideas might be all over the place

High-level concepts for a book series, ideas for specific books that I haven’t started yet, ideas for scenes of a WIP, dialogue for a scene of a chapter, thoughts on a non-fiction book that I’m outlining. Sometimes, ideas are all over the place, so…

I write them down

I’d like to be one of those cool people that jots things on cocktail napkins or dry cleaner receipts. But I’m not. I use the Notes app on my Mac and a Notepad app on my phone. I also use Scrivener. It’s been an incredibly useful and efficient tool for writing down ideas, whether they’re big-picture or nitty-gritty.

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I read the list

At times, I’m inspired by an idea, and I get cracking on it right away. Other times, I let things settle and go back to the list later. At second glance, I may decide that some of the ideas don’t make sense. Or they’re too out-there. Or the timing simply isn’t good.

I sift through

Right now, I’ve got 17 of them on my Notes lists. I don’t know if I’m going to make something of all these book ideas. Some could be part of a series, some could stand-alone. I’ve completed drafts for four of the 17, but…

I decide what to do with them

Two of the finished manuscripts may not see the light of day, unless I do massive rewrites. I’m editing the third manuscript again, and plan to send it to an editor for a professional eye. The fourth one, I sent out to a publisher and am waiting for a response.

But what about the other 13? I sent one idea as a proposal to a publisher, and it received a rejection. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the other book ideas. Ask me next month, maybe I’ll have a better answer. *smile*

Do you have a smorgasbord of writing ideas swarming through your head? How do you sort through it all? 

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash. Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash