by Christine | Writing
Thanks to thegeminigeek.com for the graphic.
Have you been ignoring your work in progress for the last few weeks for any number of really good reasons? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone; but it’s time to suck it up, buttercup, and get the work done. And while I’m focusing on writers here, this is also true for anyone in the arts who has a dream.
It’s the end of April, and the first quarter of the year is over. Hey, writer. Yeah, you. How are you doing on that latest book of yours? Are you writing at all, or have you burned out? Where are you in your goals that you set up in January? In other words (here’s that dreaded question), how’s the writing going? Or is it going at all?
You are what you consistently do. If you want to call yourself a writer, then look to what you do every day. If writing isn’t on that list, then maybe you aren’t a writer.
Before you get mad or defensive, take a good hard look at your schedule. If you say you don’t have time to write, then take note of how much TV you watch, how many hours you tend to family members by doing things they can do themselves, or how many hours of Candy Crush Saga or Farmville or Bejeweled that you play in a single day. If you turn even half that time into writing time, then not only can you call yourself a writer, but you may actually finish that book that’s been lurking on your hard drive, taunting you. Once you finish it, you can edit it. Once it’s edited, you can submit it (or begin the self-publishing process). Rinse and repeat.
The truth is, those who want to write, write. There is no other answer. So if you aren’t writing, the only person you have to look to for answers is yourself. Why? What’s holding you back?
For many people, it’s doubt. Doubt that you can be any good as a writer. Doubt that anyone will want to read what you write. Doubt that success on any scale is possible for you. But you know what? If you don’t write, then success as a writer ISN’T possible because you don’t have a product for people to read. SLAY THE DOUBT DRAGON. He’s not your friend. The only way to do that? Sit your ass down and write. Every day. No matter what, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
For others, it’s stress. You’re worried that your next book won’t measure up to your last book. Or that your editor won’t give you the next three-book contract. Or maybe, it’s been ten years and you haven’t made your first sale yet and you don’t know how much more energy you can put into a career that doesn’t seem to be paying you back either emotionally or monetarily. What then?
Take a break.
Sometimes, a break from writing is just as important as a break from your Day Job. Instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t writing, which can make you resentful, give yourself a day or two off each week. If you haven’t set writing goals (okay, I’ll write for the next fifteen minutes or, I just need a hundred words today), then try that, too. But most of all, be good to yourself.
The writing life is one of discipline. Without it, your books won’t get written and therefore, your words can’t inspire others. If you have the guts to be disciplined about your writing, then you’ll get the work done.
The writing life is one of bravery. You’ve finished the book, edited it, and now comes the time to send it out into the world. Whether it’s a publisher or a contest or putting it up Amazon by yourself, getting your book out there for others to read and judge is an act of bravery, no matter which way you look at it.
The writing life is yours to claim. There’s no secret handshake, no formula, no Blue Light Special at K-Mart that will show you the way. The only thing you need in order to be a writer is to write. Write consistently. Write diligently. Write bravely.
So. What’s your TODAY goal for your writing/creative endeavor? I’d love to know! (Mine is getting 500 words done before my head hits the pillow tonight.)
This article was first published in the Los Angeles Romance Authors monthly newsletter, the LARA CONFIDENTIAL, in August of 2013.
by Christine | Writer Wednesday, Writing
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Maggie through the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of RWA. She’s funny, terribly smart, and very nice. Please welcome the lovely and talented Maggie Marr!
CA: What made you decide to write a novel?
MM: I’m not sure I ever made a conscious decision to write a novel. I have been a writer since I was 8 years old. I’ve heard characters in my head telling me stories since I was a little girl. I grew up in the Midwest and the children who aren’t so good in math, but are really good with words are often steered toward ‘The Law’. Meaning a legal career. I didn’t grow up knowing any writers. I didn’t even think of writing as a potential career path. I kind of thought everyone heard these stories in their head. It wasn’t until after law school that I realized that maybe I could do something with all these stories I heard in my head.
CA: Wow. A law career. That’s using both sides of your brain, isn’t it? So what genre do you write in, and why?
MM: I write Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance and New Adult Contemporary. I’ve discovered the common thread in all three is sex. Lots and lots of sex. The Women’s Fiction books, I love writing because they are often about female friendships as well as a love interest. My women friends have been the solid foundation upon which my life was built. So I love writing about how those female friends often save my characters.
CA: Is this a series or standalone book? If a series, what is the name of this series, and how many books/short stories do you have planned?
MM: Hollywood Hit is part of the Hollywood Girls Club Series; however, it is a standalone book. Every book in the series includes Cici Solange and her cadre of close friends so while all three books inform each book it isn’t necessary for the reader to have read any one of the Hollywood Girls Club books to understand any book in the series. Hollywood Hit is the most romance oriented of the titles and introduces a completely new character in Nikki Solange, niece of Cici Solange. I think there will be 4 our 5 Hollywood Girls Club books total.
CA: Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
MM: I’d like to city hop. Three months in London, three months in Paris, three months in Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong–try them all. Then ultimately find a lovely little house, in the mountains, with a view of the ocean, with a lovely yard and a chair and a table in the lovely little yard on which to write.
CA: Name 3 simple joys in your life.
MM: 1. My family. 2. The time from 4am – 7am when I write. 3. Hot coffee.
CA: If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
MM: The restaurant is easier than the person-I would like to try The French Laundry–I hear it’s the meal of a lifetime. As for the person…that is tough…I think Shakespeare. Here’s why–I love writers. I think writers are amazing. I have the best time with writers. When I’m with a group of writers, I am, I think, my best self. Plus, Shakespeare was a bit of a mischievous rogue. I think Will could party. Throw back a few. Tell some outrageous stories. Perhaps I take my latest manuscript and ask him for writerly advice? So maybe not the French Laundry– me and Will would get thrown out on our asses from the French Laundry for sure. I like a good night out — maybe just a local pub like The Local Peasant. I know everyone there, they will make sure I get home (can even call my hubs if Will and I get really out of line.) Yes–that’s it. A Friday night, with William Shakespeare at The Local Peasant.
CA: If you could give just one piece of advice to a writer starting out, what would it be?
MM: Write. Sit down in the chair and write. You can’t be a writer unless you write. It doesn’t matter if the first draft sucks, first drafts are meant to suck–that is their job. Don’t be afraid of a sucky first draft. Your job is to get the sucky first draft out and then use your craft, your skill, and your hard-won knowledge to turn that sucky first draft into a beautiful book.
CA: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
MM: When I am not writing I am practicing law and trying to get movies made. As an attorney I represent some publishers, some authors, some screenplay writers and some entrepreneurs. I also work with Dahooma Productions trying to get a few independent films into production. In the evenings I freelance as chauffeur for two kidlets.
CA: Name one thing your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
MM: My memory is atrocious. Truly. I stack things so I don’t forget about them or put items in a ‘special’ place so that I will remember where they are and then…absolutely can’t remember where the ‘special’ place is that I put the item. I’ve recently resorted to placing sticky notes on the bathroom mirror so that I might remember things I need to know for the day. And yet…I can tell you in great detail events and characters that were in books I read when I was a child.
CA: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
MM: Thank you for reading my books. I love writing them and I want each book to be better than the last. I feel so much gratitude that people actually buy my books and spend hours reading them. Thank you.
Being the niece of the biggest star in the world isn’t easy–especially when someone is
Hollywood Hit by Maggie Marr
trying to kill you.
Nikki Solange is a small town Tennessee girl. When she hits Hollywood and tries to become a movie Producer, she’s in for the culture shock of her life–and finding a D-list actor turned up-and-coming director floating face down in the his swimming pool is the least of it. Now Nikki must walk the gauntlet that is Hollywood and try to stay alive because someone from Nikki’s hard-scrabble past is out to make sure that she ends up dead.
Pretending to be a Hollywood playboy film producer is easy when one of the world’s richest men is backing you.
Ex Marine sniper Rush Nelson is back from his final tour in Afghanistan and is now a security specialist for one of the world’s richest men, media mogul Tedd Robinoff. Backed by his boss, Rush has a solid cover-story that includes some serious Armani threads, a pulse-pounding car, and a limitless expense account. All to protect Robinoff, his business interests, and Robinoff’s family, which includes Ted’s superstar wife Celeste ‘Cici’ Solange and her pain-in-the-ass niece Nikki. Rush must achieve his directive without ruining his cover. Easy–except for one problem–Nikki Solange. Rush is falling for her.
The number one rule not to break when your mission is to protect.
Maggie Marr is an attorney, an author, and an independent producer. Hard Glamour, the first book in her New Adult Glamour Series, publishes January 14, 2014. Hollywood Hit, the third book in Maggie’s much loved Hollywood Girls Club Series published December 17, 2013. As with any Hollywood Girls Club book, all names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty, but if you read closely enough, you can sort out who you are…Maggie lives and works in Los Angeles.
Maggie’s Amazon Page
Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out Maggie Marr’s latest novel, Hollywood Hit.
Remember to take time for yourself as you rush around this holiday season. Breathe, enjoy the bustle, and be good to yourself. Cheers, my friends!
by Christine | Life, Observations, Writing
The lovely wahine, Jill Marie Landis
I met the award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance and mystery novels, Jill Marie Landis, almost ten years ago, just the once. I doubt she remembers me, but she did me a kindness I have never forgotten.
She spoke to the Los Angeles Romance Authors in 2004; I’d been writing for a grand total of three years at that point. I’d come close with Harlequin, but had gotten rejected. Three times. Always with an offer to resubmit something else, but still. Rejected. So I was feeling very down.
I’m sure I have my notes from her talk that meeting – I keep all my notebooks (not in very good order, but there you go). But it wasn’t her talk that touched me, per se. Afterwards, she was mobbed (we were at our meeting place in Barnes and Noble in Sherman Oaks). I waited until almost everyone was gone, and finally approached her with tears in my eyes. I don’t remember what I said at that point, but she let me cry on her shoulder and she told me to not give up, to keep at it.
I bought her book, Lover’s Lane, went home and read it and a month or so later (since I’m guessing she had a spot in the front where you could write to her if you wanted), I wrote her a note telling her how much I enjoyed the book. I must have thanked her for the words of encouragement as well, and also bemoaned my lack of success in writing for Harlequin (again), because she sent me a lovely card back.
She didn’t tell me I had a lot more writing (or rewriting) to do. She didn’t tell me I hadn’t put in my time, to work harder and write more. No. She told me that, maybe, I’d enjoy writing bigger books, and maybe I should try one. “Stretch that story out – add layers – enjoy.” Enjoy. What a concept!
Jill also said the main thing was to find the joy in writing again – and that “we all get this way”.
I’ve kept that card up, with her writing showing, on my bulletin board since the day I received it. When I’ve been discouraged, I glanced at it and took her wisdom to heart – maybe I needed to try something different. Find the joy in writing again.
It’s advice I go back to, time and time again.
Now, being kind, she said to keep in touch and let her know how it’s going. She even left me her email address – but I was shy (I can TOO be shy!), too star-struck to take her up on her offer.
Today, as I was cleaning up my office, I panicked to realize her card was no longer on my bulletin board. I finally found it, layered between letters from my great aunt and my grandmother to my mother, all dated 1966. I, of course, had put it with items that meant a lot to me.
I shall re-pin that card on my bulletin board for encouragement. For courage. And to remind myself that when talking to new authors, it never hurts to be encouraging rather than critical. I’ve developed a very critical mind (due in main to the company I kept in my late teens – early 20s) and I need to learn that criticism is rarely wanted, or needed, unless asked for. That a kind word at the right time can be the fertilizer that makes people blossom.
Jill Marie Landis is Awesome. And I owe her a lot. So go buy her books.
Thanks for stopping by! What good book have you read lately?
by Christine | Uncategorized, Writing
It’s here, finally. The end of 2012. We’re on the cusp of 2013, a bright, shiny new year not yet failing to meet our expectations. I’m looking back on my writing year, and then taking a look ahead at 2013. Come along, and see what I’ve been up to!
So in Looking Back, this year I’ve:
Turned in the manuscript for DEMON HUNT – it pubbed 7/16 of this year.
Cover for Demon Hunt, by Taria A. Reed.
Turned in the short story BLOOD DREAMS – it pubbed 6/1 of this year.
Invited to write a short-SHORT play based on The Rose, by the Brother’s Grimm; wrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it again; turned it in; it had it’s debut at the Crescent Heights High School in the Spring. Totally delighted.
Went to Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona in April; got to hang with old friends, meet up with new ones, and began a relationship with the amazing Brenda Chin of Harlequin. Also met up with Beth Yarnall of OCC RWA and Debra Mullins of EVA RWA; they both asked me if I would be interested in speaking at their chapter meetings. I said yes, of course. ULP!
Worked on “A Run for the Money” and “Evie’s Song” and “Jesse on the Verge”; pitched them, sent them off ; got rejected.
Joined in with friends for a Summer Camp writing group for the month of June. We still meet – Summer Camp has changed into Boarding School. Some of the most creative, intelligent, fun, supportive, and wonderful women – I’m a lucky girl!
Started “Weightless”, a YA story set in a ballet company; wrote 50k on that. Needs a rewrite and it needs to be finished. BUT – pitched it, sent it off, got rejected. I’m okay with that. Sent it in to a contest – and got great feedback.
Got a phone call from Brenda Chin on the last Monday in July (just before RWA National Conference) – she requested a manuscript that I pitched via a piece of paper! Woo! Sent it off. Have refrained from stalking her via phone or email. Suspect it’s not her cup of tea but will wait for the formal decision on it.
At the conference, I had several delightful, informal bump-intos with Brenda (at the booksigning, in front of Kathy Lyons‘ table, I introduced myself – she said, “I know who you are.” Squee!) (The next day, she bought me a cup of coffee! Double Squee!) Had a hard time not acting all fan-girl on her, but I managed to not totally embarrass myself. Pitched a new manuscript (that wasn’t even written – a HUGE no-no, but since she’d just requested one, I felt safe enough doing that). Needless to say, she hated it BUT – liked a turn of phrase. Gave me a plot. Said “write me that”. So – that’s what I’ve been working on, novel-wise, ever since.
In October, I joined a group called Fierce Backbone; a play development group made up of writers, actors, and directors. They’ve been reading and commenting on my first play (written in 2010/2011); if it ever gets to a staged reading, I’ll be shouting about it from the rooftops. Two people, one set. Imminently produceable.
In October, I also got to be the guest of honor at a book club. They read my book, talked about it, asked me a bunch of questions – it was fantastic and I learned a lot. Thank you Tabitha! And along with Lisa Kessler, I did a booksigning down at Starcrafts in San Diego – Teresa See and friends were lovely and gracious.
Because Fierce Backbone sparks creativity, I wrote a play for my husband for Christmas. Money being not floating from the sky, I needed to get darned creative. He loves it (whew!), and it needs rewriting – but that’s what I worked on almost exclusively from October to Christmas Eve. Dialog comes easy to me, so I’ll get more work done on it and submit to Fierce Backbone to get it into the Monday readings, and we’ll see how it goes!
In November, I gave my first-ever talk to East Valley Authors chapter of RWA. People took notes! They came up afterwards, thanked me, and asked questions! I shocked myself by actually being able to talk for an hour. But yeah, my inner actress was totally stoked.
I’m now (with the help of a couple of wonderful pairs of eagle-eyes) back at work on the Brenda Chin novel. I’ve got so much of it written – now it just needs to get cohesive. I am SO thankful that I’ll be taking a plotting course in January!
I’m taking on the mantle of President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I am predicting a calm, easy year (!).
I’m speaking at Orange County Chapter of RWA on January 12th; Los Angeles Romance Authors on January 20th.
I plan on finishing the Brenda Book in January and getting it off to her. Think I should really come up with a series idea to go along with this book and pitch that, too. Then, and only then, will I bug her about the other book. Just a friendly warning, Brenda. 😉
Then I really must get to Demon’s Rage, the final book in the Demon Trilogy. I’d like to get that one turned in by the end of March, then write two or three short stories in the world and turn all those in, as well.
Then back to Weightless, my Ballet YA. I’d love to get that one done up and send it around. If no one bites, I may just dip my toes into self-publishing. I love this book and it deserves to go somewhere.
March 15 – 17, I’ll be at the So Cal RWA Writer’s Conference, California Dreaming. Brenda Chin will also be there (according to the conference website).
Stalking seeing her will be very cool. If I don’t have that book done and turned in to her BEFORE then, I will just be a failure so there’s that! A good prod to productivity.
I’m not looking too much farther ahead than March. I have a lot to do in the next three months – besides all of the above, I have two plays to re-write.
RWA National Conference will be held in Atlanta this year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, even though I should since I’m chapter president and all. We shall see.
So, there it is – looking back, and looking ahead. How far ahead do you plan your year? Or do you let circumstances change your schedule?
Here’s hoping 2013 is your best year yet! Be safe out there tonight – remember there will be a lot of amateur drunks on the roads. Don’t drive if you don’t have to!
~ Until next year, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
by Christine | Wine Friday
In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10.
So, last weekend, while the hubby was away auditioning for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and one Young Man was off to spend the night prior to a day of LARPing and the other furiously writing for his critique group, I decided to try some wines I hadn’t tried yet. Three days, three bottles. What could possibly go wrong?
Friday, I started with Jargon Pinot Noir 2009, St. Helena, California Alcohol 13.5% by volume $8.99 at Vons
On the Label: “We can go on and on and tell you about our Terroir (it’s incredible) and about the quality of our PINOT NOIR fruit (it’s awesome), but we won’t. We let our Pinot Noir speak for itself. So cut through all the complicated wine speak and enjoy…JUST GOOD WINE.”
My Take: It has a fun label. It has a screw top. It’s a Pinot Noir. What’s not to like? There’s a lovely feel to this wine in my mouth – it’s got some cherry in it, some of the pepper I like, it’s not meek but it’s not a big, huge, bold wine either (because, you know, Pinot just isn’t that way). It’s a great kick-off-your-shoes, hi-honey-I’m-home, and TGIF wine. I had to really pace myself and only drink two glasses of it on Friday night. Not sure what I made to go with it … I do remember that I ate alone, which gave me visions of an empty nest. Interesting…
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
Now, on to Saturday.
Cline Zinfandel 2010 California Alcohol 14% by volume $9.99 at Vons on Sale
On the Label: “CLINE Family owned and operated since 1982. From meticulous farming to master winemaking, we still do it all the old fashioned way and it shows. Bright, jammy cherry, dark berry fruit and spice with a touch of warm vanilla define this complex yet approachable Cline Zin. Supple tannins and a smooth finish lend structure and ageability. Try with grilled steak, chili con carne or spaghetti and red sauce.”
My Take: I was perfectly prepared to love this wine, so imagine my surprise when, serving it with garlic chicken, it left me…wanting. I didn’t taste the bright cherry or the spice…I tasted minerals. Heavy minerals that left a heavy taste in my mouth. Maybe it was the high alcohol content?
I duly drank my first glass, and then switched back to the Jargon from the night before. Ahhhh….much better. Also better was the company at dinner – I wasn’t completely alone. However, when the boys and I eat sans their papa, we tend to read at dinner…all three of us reading a different, yet very thick novel of some sort or another. I always shed a tiny tear of pride at those meals…
My Take ~ Drinkable, if you like the minerally taste. ~ I don’t know. Maybe it needs more time – it WAS a 2010. But if it needs more time, why is it on the shelves now? I can only roll my eyes…
Which brings me to Sunday…
Concannon Central Coast Pinot Noir Established 1883 in the Livermore Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume $9.99 at Vons.
On the Label: “Roots. Rocks. Intrigue. Since 1883, Concannon Vineyard has been handcrafting fine varietal wines from grapes grown along the Central Coast of California, a diverse region that stretches north from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco Bay. We carefully select the most ideal vineyards for growing each varietal and craft this expressive fruit into superb wines.
Our medium-bodied Pinot Noir is bursting with aromas of violet, cherry, earth and spice with an elegant and supple finish. Enjoy our Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir with dishes like herb-crusted lamb chops or plank-grilled salmon.”
My Take: Prior to starting dinner, I didn’t really want to open this bottle so I had a small glass of the Cline Zinfandel. And as soon as I was done with that, I opened the Concannon with a sigh of relief.
It smells lovely in the glass. It bursts on the tongue with bright flavors and a mellowness that allows you to relax – this is not a demanding wine, but rather a pleasure wine, asking only that you enjoy it. I’m thinking now that maybe all Pinot Noirs are of this variety – undemanding of the consumer. But I digress…
Again, a reading dinner, this time with a fall veggie mix and whole-wheat pasta with fresh parmesan on top and – of course – garlic bread, made the Sicilian way. Which is…toast a baguette sliced in half until well toasted, then rub a large clove of garlic into the toasted side. The garlic kind of melts into the bread. Top it off with a sprinkling of olive oil (and pepper if you desire, which I do!), and you’ve got a feast fit for a king, even if you’re just serving the garlic bread and the wine. And the wine? Mmmmm.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ But of these three, the Jargon is my hands-down favorite.
So, I survived my weekend alone. And on Monday, the hubby very kindly finished up all my open bottles – even the Cline. After all, he’d been in Mormon Country for the past three days.
Now…Tomorrow, the lovely New Day Job is letting me off half a day early to drive up to Paso Robles for Wine Release Weekend. Three girls on the open road, ready to taste wine. I promise I’ll bring my notepad…
~ ~ ~
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and whether there’s a full moon or not. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook, not to mention in paperback!! Get your copy today!