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A long day!

I’ve been in the hospital most of the day, sitting with my mother-in-law. All three of us got sick this week with what turned out to be something other than flu. Rotavirus! Different beast altogether! Alene is 97, and got dehydrated, so she was admitted last night. She’s doing well, but our doctor wants to keep her one more night, just to make sure she’s safe to come home, and well enough for us to care for her! She’s determined to get well as quickly as possible and has become her nurse’s favorite patient today.

I ran into a friend at the hospital. Her mother is in for the same thing! She told me she’s read my blog and posted a comment. It’ll be appearing soon, I’m sure. Good to see you today, Belinda! I hope your mother gets well soon. So many residents of the nursing home have been sick with all sorts of viruses, it’s a wonder there aren’t more of them hospitalized.

I also had the chance to visit with a friend we went to High School with. Great to see you today, Jackie! I wasn’t surprised to hear that she has many more cats than the last time I talked to her. Jackie is the cat lover of all time! A year or two ago, when a stray calico showed up at our door, nosing with our dogs through the glass, I knew who to call to find that little sweetheart a home. Jackie named her Abigail and said she was one of the sweetest cats they’d ever had. Good to catch up with Jackie today!

Chuck’s sister and her husband will be here tomorrow to stay while we spend a week resting among tall pines in the mountains. We won’t leave until they arrive late tomorrow afternoon. Tag! They don’t get to come nearly as often as they’d like to visit Alene. Charlotte loves taking care of her mother while we’re gone. This is a perfect opportunity for her to put her Mother Hen talents to work!

I got another surprise today! I heard from my publisher for my book on plotting fiction, FILL-IN-THE-BLANK PLOTTING. He’s offering to build and host websites for his authors now! Sign me up!!!! He promises the site will be up and running by next week. I can’t wait to spotlight KISS ME, CHLOE and the other books in the Kiss Me series, along with my other novels and some of our nonfiction books that have come out in recent years. Also, I’ll be able to focus attention on PLOTTING, which could be updated soon and re-released in a revised and improved format! I’ll let you know when this blog will be included in my new website. Exciting!

This has to be quick because I’m quickly running out of steam. But I wanted to let you know how happy I am to have you reading my blog! If there are topics you’d like me to talk about, let me know! I’ll also be happy to answer questions about writing and reading. And I’ll be sharing with you the novels I read. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s as simple as that.” I agree! Writers are always voracious readers. I often have several books going at the same time. I promise I’ll make recommendations for all types of books–fiction and nonfiction. Have a wonderful weekend! The next time you hear from me, I’ll be in the mountains! I promise to post some photos!

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It’s been years since I’ve added to this blog, but that changes now!  After having 5 novels and  68 NF books for children and teens published since 1996, I’m finally retired from writing NF and getting back to writing the stories I love.  Having dealt with more than 20 editors, a bunch of publishers, and having done more revisions than I ever want to do again, I’ve learned how to write.  Like many authors who are tired of dealing with traditional publishers, I’m turning to a more enjoyable way to get my stories to my readers.  I’m going to publish my romances through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.  They’ll be available for Kindle or for your computer, if you don’t have a Kindle.  And, they’ll also be available in paperback, for those of you who prefer holding an actual book in your hands and being able to flip back and forth while you read.

A graphic artist is working right now on getting the cover ready for my launch book on KDP–a sweet romance called KISS ME, CHLOE, which I’m hoping to have on Amazon by my birthday, April 10.  KISS ME CHLOE will be the first book in the Kiss Me series, followed by KISS ME, CINDY and KISS ME, FRAN coming later this year.  

This summer, I know I’ll be setting a Kiss Me book in Peru.  Why?  Because my sweet husband, Chuck, and I are going to Peru the end of July!  We’re going to visit Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu!  I promise I’ll have photos to share when we get back. 

This next week, we’re going somewhere just as romantic.  Our little piece of paradise in the NM mountains.  We call it Pine Ridge.  Nestled among pines, firs,and aspens is an RV that’s been there since my mother- and father-in-law bought the place 30+ years ago.  They sold it in 2004, when they were no longer able to spend their summers there as they had for more than 20 years.  And last April, when it came on the market again, Chuck and I knew we had to get it back in the family.  Here it is!

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There’s no better place on earth to sit, read, sip a hot cuppa Cafe Vienna–or write!  We’ll be spending as much time there this year as possible, beginning with next week!  I’ll be putting the final polish on KISS ME, CHLOE, and before long, I’ll have part of the first chapter to share with you. 

Chloe has run away from Houston–looking for a home that will nurture and love her instead of draining all the life from her.  She’s also looking for that special man who will put her first in his life, over a high-pressure job, who will allow her to be who she is and to live her dreams–and their dreams–instead of only his.  That excerpt is coming SOON!

So now you know that I’m back, and that I have wonderful, romantic stories to share with you.  When KISS ME, CHLOE is released in April, it will be FREE for the first few days.  I hope you’ll visit me here often so you’ll be able to take advantage of that offer!

Until next time…  And I promise it won’t be long….

Best always,

Linda George

KISS ME, CHLOE coming in April, 2013

FILL-IN-THE-BLANK PLOTTING Available NOW from Crickhollow Books.  Also from Amazon. (If you buy the book and like what you read, I’d appreciate your putting a positive review on the book’s Amazon page.  Thanks!)

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, while I know that many enjoy the November writing marathon known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’m not personally a big fan.

I know that participants appreciate:

  • the thrilling challenge of the madcap rush to write a novel.
  • the reminder that you need to write consistently and frequently and stick with a project to finish it.
  • the camaraderie
  • the sheer pride in the plethora of pages produced

But others (and frankly, a lot of professionals in the field) caution against the “come hell or high water” plunge into the whirlpool of a novel.

It reminds me a bit of the marathon dance competition, as in the movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (“The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon,” Substitute a few words and you have a description of writing any novel, let alone an entire novel in a month!)

Here’s a look at the issues from a perspective of a literary agent, Scott Eagen of Greyhaus Literary Agency (a small agency for romance writers), questioning the fundamental value of the popular annual literary event. A key line:

[M]y bigger issue [with NaNoWriMo] is the lack of true emphasis on the writing process that successful authors know and use religiously.

You can read the rest of Eagen’s blog post on NaNoWriMo here.

What’s your take on NaNoWriMo? Enjoyable? Productive? Useful to you as a writer? If so, how?

I’m honestly interested in what works for you. I don’t want to discourage anyone from anything that’s useful. I just want to encourage best practices . . . especially if you’re going to devote a lot of time and energy to becoming a successful writer.

I’m not really a fan of his novels (seem a bit sappy for my taste), but I love some of the lines from this interview with Nicholas Sparks in The Daily Beast about Sparks starting a novel without much planning, and the dire problems that can ensue.

Such as: “I thought I had most of the story in my mind, and I got two thirds of the way through. It was only then that I realized I shouldn’t have started it at all.”

My favorite line from the interview:

I hit up strangers in the street for an ending.

Now after that “painful” experience, he swears by four personal rules:

  1. I have to know how the characters meet.
  2. I have to know what’s driving the story.
  3. I have to understand the conflict,
  4. [I have to know] how the story will end.

Here at the Plotting for Writers Blog, we tend to agree . . . that a little advance plotting goes a long way!

Swooper or Basher?

Here’s a quote from Kurt Vonnegut. It’s from a writer’s blog post by Charles J. Shields, author of the forthcoming Vonnegut biography, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, described as “the culmination of five years of research and writing— the first-ever biography of one of the most important literary iconoclasts of his time.”

That blog, by the way, has this gem by Shields in a post about the biggest decision facing a biographer, titled “I Take Thee: Choosing Your Subject”:

To start with, the way I begin looking for a subject is this: half of my mind is creative, and half is financial. The creative side asks, “Is this a person so interesting that I could work for years on the book, even when the going gets rough, when interviews are disappointing, when research and travel sometimes turns up nothing?” If the answer is yes— even when I first wake up in the morning and I’m at my truest self (with my hair sticking up), that’s a good sign.

Then the financial side of my mind asks, “And when, after years of solitary work, you finish the biography, who will go into a bookstore and say, ‘Sure, I’ll pay $30 for that book”? In other words, the appeal of it has to be widespread. (. . .)

Over the past few years, I’ve suggested a number of ideas for biographies to my agent, Jeff Kleinman. And his response, practically every time is, “Not big enough,” meaning the readership for the biography would be too small. One time, frustrated, I e-mailed him, “How about a biography of God? Big enough?”

He answered back, “If you can get Him to sign a release.”

Priceless. But back to Vonnegut . . . in another post on writing style, Shields quotes Vonnegut:

“Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

So . . . are you writing a novel? Are you a swooper or a basher?

Happy Plotting in 2011

Great news . . . Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting has risen to the Top 50 Writing Books on Amazon.com! It’s sitting at #49 (and at times has been in the Top 25. Hurray!

Reading the reviews made me proud of being able to help fiction writers who struggle with plotting . . . as I did before learning about the basics and and figured out a plotting method to wrestle a “plot in progress” into a usable format.

One Amazon reviewer said she wasn’t willing to rearrange her office to put up plotting boards. But of course, the “boards” could be created in Word documents and handled entirely on her computer.

Here at the writing studio of the Georges, I do believe 2010 was one of the busiest years of our lives. 2011 is starting out a bit calmer, and I’ve got some time to write fiction again after completing our 65th nonfiction book for teens in January. What sort of books? For example, Biotech Research, written for ReferencePoint Press, was a real challenge.

Meanwhile, I’m updating a novel I drafted a good while back, getting it ready to submit! I’m checking the plot structure to make sure it has all 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and all the elements of the Three-Act Structure so the reader won’t fall into any plot-holes. I have to admit, I love writing fiction . . . making things up as I go along instead pushing hard to write only 400-500 words a day, with every fact backed up with three sources.

There’s such freedom in writing fiction! And my plotting boards are helping me get back to it with ease.

Sometime this year, I’ll be conducting a Saturday Seminar on Plotting and Strong Writing for The Woodlands Writers’ Guild near Houston.  I’ll let you know when that seminar gets on the calendar. I’d love to see you there!

Have a wonderful year, everyone!  And happy writing!
Linda

50,000 words. In one month. Have fun!

That’s the premise of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.”

You start writing like crazy on November 1. And try to keep going . . . and going and going . . . until the great & magical word-counting wizard behind the curtain says you’ve reached the goal: a 50,000-word novel by midnight, November 30.

So here’s the question:

Will you be a plotter or a plunger?

You’ve heard, I’m sure, the famous advice given by E.L. Doctorow:

Writing is like driving at night. You can see only as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Perhaps you also saw a brief interview with Philip Roth (in AARP Magazine, July/August 2006), where he admitted, answering a question from interviewer John F Baker about how well Roth’s great books resulted in conveying what Roth had in mind when the work was started:

What I have in mind when I start to write could fit inside an acorn – an acorn, moreover, that rarely if ever grows into an oak. Write fiction and you relinquish reason. You start with an acorn and you end up with a mackerel.

Roth goes on to suggest: “Chance and staying power. That’s the hand the imagination is dealt.”

True, some do drive only by virtue of those headlights. But I’ve found that the more experienced the writer, the less they think (or can or wish to talk in detail about) their real methods. In contrast, emerging successful writers do tend to use outlines, and plan more thoroughly, and think more consciously about the architectural design of their works.

How ’bout you? Planning to plunge into the icy waters of November’s NaNoWriMo novel without a solid outline for your novel?
Planning to head down that foggy highway guided only by your headlights (and if your old car is like mine, one of the headlights is out and the other is a little dim)?

I like this advice from an SF writer, Ruth Nestvold, a finalist for Tiptree and Sturgeon awards, writing here in a 2005 article titled “True Facts About the Art and Craft of Writing”:

The wonderful thing about that [Doctorow] quote is that it can be understood nearly any way you want. . . . But for those who write like me, always a little ahead of yourself, the headlights are also a great metaphor, since they open up the path ahead of me as I proceed. And I see no problem with knowing what my destination is—even people who drive at night usually know where they’re going.

One of the big differences between us is that whether I can see the road or not, I have usually taken a long look at the map before I set off.

Now that’s good advice!

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