The Universe and Lemonade by Jules Dixon #MessageMonday #amwriting @JulesofTripleR

Along with moving and putting a house on the market, I’m in the middle of writing a short story for an anthology that my critique group is putting out and I’m super pumped about all of those things because who wouldn’t be. Exciting times.

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But like these people, the Universe decided I needed some challenges to go along with the fun.

Well done, Universe. Well. Done. 

I am now the proud owner of this…

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I know, don’t be jealous. 😉 It’s all mine, ladies and gentlemen. No sharing.

Not as sexy as my red cowgirl boots, but when you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, fashion actually comes after comfort.

But although I’m not happy that this surprise event happened, I guess I’m trying to see the bright side.

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One, pain meds are a godsend for the…pain. Thank you to doctors and whoever created them.

 

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Two, I have time to write and I will use the time given, so maybe it was a gift from the Universe. I’ll find out what the final treatment plan is today and what I have to look foward to.

 

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Three, my friends and family are amaze-balls. Friggin’ off the charts amazing, fabulous, stupendous. My son was supposed to go back to school tomorrow, he’s postponed so he can help me. My hubby helped me 100 times this weekend, leaving quickly from work to come get me and take me to the hospital on Friday when it happened and then taking care of me all weekend long. My friend Nanette who let me scream into the phone so I’d stay conscious while the pain was at a 10/10. My friend, Cathy, who raced over from her house to stay with me while I writhed on the kitchen floor in pain and then locked up the house after we were gone to the hospital. The lawn guy who assisted me to get into the house. Yes, I know you touched my boob to help me. Yes, I know you apologized a dozen times. No, I don’t and didn’t care. I needed help and you helped me. The carpet guy who offered me ways of breathing to help the pain, but still did his job after we left like I needed him to. And I remember that I owe you $20 still, I’ll get it to you ASAP. My daughter who came to the hospital and rubbed my back while they made me lay on my stomach before the pain meds took effect. Not a fan of laying on my stomach anytime, but this made me feel twice as uncomfortable as my feet dangled and pain shot through my lower leg. And my nephew who didn’t blink an eye when I said I had to stay with him cause our bathroom is being remodeled and I can’t do stairs to the basement one. And dozens of others have offered to help in any way they can. Thank you to every one of you.

I was blessed that day, even if I’m on arm-pit numbing crutches and have the wonderful 10 lb boot. I know it’s not 10 lbs, but it’s definitely not a feather. 😉

So in the grand scheme of things, I’m still alive and that’s an important thing to remember. Plus, I’ve got a great story to add to a book some day. I’ve learned some lessons and I know who has my back when I need them.

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Overall, I’ve got a crapton of lemonade from the lemons the Universe sent to me. 

So back to writing that short story for me. I think you guys are going to like the idea we have going, and as long as my muse stays awake, I’ll be getting it done this week.

How was your weekend? Anyone have something exciting happen on their end of the keyboard? Any lemons that you can make lemonade from?

Hugs to all. ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

Book Signings: Making the Most of an Event by Jules Dixon of @JulesofTripleR

This weekend, along with two other authors from Nebraska, Wynter S.K. and Jacqueline Winters , I (on left) attended the Wild Deadwood Reads book signing in Deadwood, South Dakota. And I had a wonderful time all around.

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Book signings are both a great way for readers to get to meet some of their favorite authors and for authors to meet new readers and maybe get a little time to recharge their “writing batteries”.

This past weekend’s event really had some wonderful opportunities for readers and author to mingle. Train rides into the Black Hills. Trips to see Mount Rushmore. A PBR Rodeo event with talented cowboys and a behind-the-chutes tour with entertaining clowns (ahem–entertainers as their now called) and information from a bull breeder. And ghost tours that landed some interesting pictures and contacts by possible spirits. And then there was the signing, a well-organized event that I enjoyed and appreciated how much work it is to actually organize a signing event. The organizers did a great job.

With that said, over the last two years, I’ve collected some tips and hints for authors and readers to help make the most of an event.

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Authors

  1. Don’t go to sell books. That is setting yourself up for failure. Go to meet other authors and to share your love of writing with people of like minds and readers who enjoy reading in your genre.
  2. Be flexible. Plans change, tables get moved, things don’t fit. You will forget something (me-my silver signing pen, so I went with bright colors). Be willing to adapt. Take the mistakes and issues in stride, it will make for a more enjoyable event.
  3. Introduce yourself to at least three new authors and get to know them a little better. I met a lot of lovely authors, Tina SusedikAmanda McIntyrePJ FialaLizbeth Selvig. And one of my favorites, Lorelei James. Authors know what other authors are going through. And when you forget something, they will come to the rescue for you. We are a family and care for each other.
  4. Take time to explore the city and eat the local fare. We had some wonderful ribeyes last night and took a lovely stroll around the downtown area. Take some time to people watch. Get some inspiration. I found inspiration at the rodeo, a new storyline was blaring me in the face and I’m ready to get started on it.
  5. Consider making your books easy to purchase at $10 each, and rewarded multiple purchases–buy three for $25. Yes, this might mean taking a loss, but it can lead to dedicated readers and future sales. And remember, a happy reader will tell other readers.

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Readers

  1. Take a chance on new-to-you authors. Yes, there are those favorites that you’ll want to get a signed book from, but please don’t dismiss the talent of authors who might be new to you.
  2. Ask questions. Authors love to answer questions about their writing, books, and characters. If you like a certain genre or storyline, let them know. Help them to help you. And I promise, if I don’t think my stories are great for you, I will suggest one of the other authors at the event. Not everyone loves LGBT romance, understandable, so if you like suspense, I’ll tell you who I like at the event.
  3. If you’ve read an author’s books prior to the event, tell them. You might get a discount on the paperback. If they’re new to you, tell them. You might find someone new to love.
  4. Bring an extra bag for books. Cash is good, but most authors will take cards. Think about gifts. Does your friend love reading? Books are great for birthdays, holidays, and just friendship.
  5. If you see an author in the town having a drink, pull up a chair and have a chat. We don’t talk about books all the time. We do have other interests, too. We’d love to get to know you, too.

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Okay, lastly, enjoy the event and if the organizers have other events scheduled, go to one or more. Mingle and just enjoy getting away for a day. 

Not every event will be successful from a earnings perspective, but as long as you keep a positive attitude and look for the silver linings it will be successful in other ways.

Happy Monday!

See you next week!

Hugs, Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

Writing Is My Sanity by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages #AmWriting #WritingAdvice

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Hello, everyone! How are you all doing?

I’ve had a long week, busy with moving, holiday gatherings, and getting a house ready for market, but I’m not going to complain, I’m reveling in the fact that I’m getting as much done as I am.

But, something had to get hurt in the process. For me, that was my 4-6 hours of writing a day. Not only did time have something to do with it, but in reality, some weeks are better than others for writing. It’s just the way muses work, at least mine.

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One thing I’ve found consistent is that when I’m having a bad or busy day, if I’m able to get at least some me writing time into the end of a day, all seems to be better.

 

Writing truly is my release time. It’s been keeping me sane these last few weeks.

This morning I was stressed out. Lots had gone right and some had gone wrong this weekend. So hubby convinced me that we needed an hour away just to decompress and so we tried a new breakfast place that is close to our new home, moving from the ‘burbs to the middle of the city.

This lovely couple saw us waiting and asked if we’d like to sit with them. We had a wonderful conversation and their personalities inspired me to write in an older couple to my current story. They were so in sync with each other. Fifty-six years of marriage, three children, eight grandkids (who they gushed over and had every right to) and one great-grandchild. It was lovely to see and really made me think.

Life is pretty darn great.

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Seriously.

Even if I’m hurting in every part of my body. Seriously, my feet right now…on fire. There is something to look forward to or to appreciate right here and now.

Little things and big things.

Like the new firmer mattress waiting for me at the new house. And a new desk for writing–can’t wait to start writing at it. Friends and family to have over to enjoy our new home with.

Just have a few more things to do at this house to get it ready to sell and we can start a new chapter in our lives.

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And the kitties need to be moved. Not sure how they’re going to do with it all, but we’ll work it out. Cause again…it’s all good, if we’re together.

If that couple taught me anything it was to not worry so much, enjoy the people in my life, and invite people to sit at my table.

So to all the readers, writers and friends I’ve yet to meet out there, you are always welcome at my table.

❤ and Hugs to all.

Jules

 

 

 

Collaborative Writing by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #writingtips #MondayMessages

Collaborative Writing by Jules Dixon

Writing can be a solitary effort.

Alone. 

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All alone.

So when the opportunity to collaborate with another author or many authors comes around, many authors will jump at the opportunity. But before saying an enthusiastic “Yes!” there are many things to think about. 

First, what will you be writing and what are the requirements for the project. For instance, are all stories to be in first or third POV? Or is it up to each writer? If it’s anthology, what is the story length both min and max? How many authors will be included?

Second, who will be deciding, retaining control of, and paying for major decisions, like the cover, editing, marketing, ISBN’s, platforms and release schedules, and more. So much more. Make sure all of this is down in writing for all to see and to be held accountable. When it comes to cover, will you get a say? What if you don’t like the cover?

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Third, what are the timelines for deliverables? First draft, second draft, edits, accepting edits, final drafts, beta reads, cover reveals, promotions, etc…they’re all important and it’s best to have it all in writing so you and everyone else can’t say they “didn’t know.”

Fourth, how is the money (i.e. ebook royalties/paperback sales) going to be paid out or is the money going toward something? For instance, my critiquing group is doing an anthology and we’re going to use the royalties for group activities, like maybe a retreat or going to a vineyard for a day and drinking wine and writing…the possibilities will be based on how the anthology does, so it’s in everyone’s interest to help it be a success.

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Lastly, expectations must be managed and one person must have the say when there is no time to ask everyone, or the decision is small or doesn’t affect the bottom line, or there is a tie in voting when it does. By this I mean there needs to be a project manager and someone to say “it has to be this way” when it does and can’t be any other way and for the times when someone won’t get their way and a “that isn’t possible” has to be said.

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For ours, that person is me. And it’s not easy. But it’s important that there is one person who holds the group together and finds a middle ground. I try to let the group be as democratic as possible. Occasionally, decisions just need to be made, and when I do it, I try to be respectful and give what I believe the majority would want.

So, in the end, when you ask someone to co-write or to join a collection of stories, have your ducks in a row. Have a contract written up to explain and detail the big parts of above. It will help everyone move smoothly through the project and lend to success for everyone.

Have a great week! ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs are from Giphy.com.

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #authors

All the Good, Bad, and Ugly Excuses NOT to Write by Jules Dixon

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Hey, I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. Agreed.

You have kids. I have kids. Sure, they’re adults now, but they still come around once in a while and ask for my attention, and I want to give it to them. Cause…I luvvvvs them. ❤

 

You have a job. I have a job. I unclog toilets and sinks for a living as a landlord, as well as write stories to entertain.

You have a spouse/significant other. Ditto. And he likes to talk to me for some weird reason.

You have friends. Yep, have those, too. They don’t always claim me, but I always claim them.

You have a family. Two younger sisters who like to see me once in a while. I think.

You have hobbies and like to give back to your community. Me, too. Cooking, baking, and dancing. Plus, I have a fondness for drinking martinis on Friday afternoons while sitting on a patio enjoying doing nothing. And I participate in the Omaha PRIDE parade and celebration, and other fundraising events during the year to support LGBT advocacy for equality.

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You have animals demanding your attention. Two cats here and yes, they like to be spoiled. Rotten.

You have favorite TV shows/bands/movies to see. I can’t stop watching The Goldbergs, Supernatural, or Friends. Over and over and over.

You have vacations and summer/spring/Christmas breaks. I don’t take vacations very often, but I know the concept and enjoy them when I do. And they’re vital to a healthy life.

And all of this means…You have a life.

Bingo.
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You got it.

I know it.

You. Have. A. Life. 

 

And when it comes to life, we have to make choices between have to do, want to do, and need to do. Priorities can feel like hardships and a drag on your excitement. Scheduling everything is rough to get everything done. And having to justify wanting to write over spending time with your spouse or significant other/friends/kids/family or doing other fun things, well, I know it’s hard to balance all and not have someone feel left out. But it can be done.

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Make your priorities clear. Make a schedule and put it on the fridge/wall/someplace where people in the house see it. Find a time every day that you can notch out just for you to write, even 20 minutes, which can yield 250 words–a page–would mean a 60,000-word novel in 240 days and still leave time in the year for editing and polishing before sending off to a publisher or agent.

I’m not saying to give up all TV time or friends or fun…I’m saying to balance and make sure expectations are set before you enter into an event. If you say to yourself, I can have lunch with my friend, but I will tell her I’ll be leaving at 2 pm to write my 1,000 words for the day.

Or if you want to write as bad as you’d want to watch that next episode of your favorite TV show, then make that the reward.

And FYI, 1,000 words a day x 5 days a week (giving you the weekends off–yep, I said OFF!) would be 260,000 words in a year–that’s over four 60,000-word novels. Four. Yes…

FOUR. That’s a significant number of books written each year. In fact, that’s quite impressive.

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So, set a schedule. Make it a priority. Set expectations. And then do it!

Okay, good luck.

I’m rooting for you!

Hugs, Jules

 

All gifs from Giphy.

 

 

To the Newly Published Author by Jules Dixon of @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #marketing #MondayMessages

To the Newly Published Author by Jules Dixon

What a wonderful thing it is to be a published author. Whether it be self-published or traditionally published, you have accomplished what many hope and dream to do in their life. Congratulations!

And as a newly published author, I’d like to take a minute to guide you through your first book baby, post delivery into the great big world of reading, if you will.

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First, you will be excited and many of your friends and family will be excited for you but that might not always be the case. You may run into one or more (hopefully not) who say things that come off as less than supportive. “Anyone can publish a book nowadays” or “I have an idea for a book, but I’m not going to write it because I don’t want to make you feel bad cause I know it’s going to be big, not like yours.” Yes, those are just a sample of things people have said to me. Prepare yourself for the “haters”, and don’t let them get to you. Let it slide right off, and write another book! Cause you know what, they be jealous most of the time.

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Second, you will want to ask a million questions, but I’d ask you use your friend Mr. Google and inquire there first, narrow your question with the information you find, and then if you still have a very pointed and well-articulated question, then ask someone for clarification. It’s amazing what an author can find on Google or any other search engine, or in a supportive author group in the previous posts. In most groups, you can use the “Search” function and see if a topic has been approached and what the responses were.

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Third, don’t be like Luke. When Luke is training in the swamp he freaks out, he gives up, and he acts like a goddamn baby. So don’t be like Luke…have some PATIENCE! Seriously, this probably should be #1. Understand that it takes time to learn. Have patience to accept that it takes time to get a fan base, build loyal readers and connect with readers. Restraint from saying and doing things you might regret later. Step back from holding Yoda in the air on your foot while lifting the rock, some day you too will feel the force, but when it’s all new, you need to take slower steps, listen, and focus. Just breathe.

 

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Lastly, if a fellow author promotes you, give thanks, and make a mental note to do the same when they have a book come out. This is a reciprocity that speaks a lot to your professionalism, plus using people for your own promotion and not reciprocating is not acceptable. I understand things slip through the cracks, but authors take time from writing to help you, please do the same.

Okay, go forth and be a new and wonderful writer. It is an amazing event and you should relish the excitement and happiness you feel.

Congratulations to all first time published authors and to those who continue in this crazy business. We all deserve a pat on the back today.

❤ Jules

All gifs from Giphy.

 

Author Lessons Learned by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages with @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #LitChat

Author Lessons Learned

I haven’t been in this industry for decades like some, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned lessons. In just three years of being published, I’ve garnered some thoughts and here are three I’d like to share.

giphy (55)1. The choice between indie publishing and traditional publishing should be one you consider extremely carefully. With Indie publishing the author retains control, you are the decision maker, you don’t answer to anyone but you, but you also lay out the funds to make covers, buy ISBN’s, editing, formatting, and 100% of the marketing. Whereas with traditional publishing the costs of everything but marketing are assumed by the publisher and they should be. If a publisher makes you buy a cover or editing or almost anything…just say no and run!
So consider not only how much control you want, but your time, your available funds (noting that it takes upwards of $2000 to properly and effectively self-publish a book), and the amount of effort you want to put forth. And yes, $2K, so budget appropriately. But when you give up control to a publisher you are taking the chance that a cover won’t be your “exact” vision, the editing might not be exactly what you’d pay for, or the marketing might be far less than you ultimately want. Actually, the marketing probably will be less, and you’ll want to put forth some extra effort for your book. Your baby deserves it.

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2. Writing is only 50% of a successful book. The other parts are everything that comes after you write that “The End”. Including revision, getting critiques, beta reads for quality, then everything from cover and editing through marketing. And those things take time because they are important.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is extremely important and ultimately is a writer’s signature on paper. But the rest is the polish on the story and the way to get readers interested in reading. And that other 50% takes a lot of time. So much time that an author can find themselves…not writing! Which is…gasp…what we should be doing!

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3. Something is going to go bad or worse. I don’t care if you’re an NYT or USA Today best-selling author or sell two wonderful copies, at some point or another, the $hit is going to hit the fan in some way. And no matter what, you have to be an adult and suck it up. Maybe you’re not going to like something your publisher does or doesn’t do. Or you not going to get the reaction from readers on your book that you were hoping for. Or your series might crap out, leaving you with stories in your mind, but readers are moving on to other genres, books, series’. Things that are out of your control will happen. But it’s not what happens that matters, it’s how you react that matters. AND that’s what you can control. 

So you…let it go. I’m fully aware that it’s hard to, but for your sanity and your future, you let whatever it is slide off…and you keep writing. You reexamine whatever your plan was and adjust. And you move forward.

Forward.

Not backward.

And you definitely don’t stop.

If writing is in your soul, you just let it go. 

There are about 100 other…okay a 1000 other…thoughts/ideas/tips I could touch on, but those stood out to me this week. I’m sure next week another 3-1000 will stand out sometime soon and I’ll revisit.

Have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.

Two Great Words: The End by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages #WriterTips

Two Great Words: The End

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So for the last two weeks I’ve been talking about the Three Act Structure. We’ve visited the beginning of a story (aka Act 1 or the excitement of meeting characters and finding out their goals, motivations, and conflicts) and the middle (aka Act 2 where we take those conflicts and we make them even worse).

So now, we’re at the end.

The End.

Those are two words authors dream of typing and when it comes down to it, nothing ever feels better.

So once a writer has taken their characters to rock bottom and had the worst of the worst happen, they’ve broken up, shit has hit the fan, everything looks like it can’t ever be fixed, and the readers are wondering: How in the world are they going to get back together? This is Act III. 

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The resolution to the story.

In the conclusion, readers must find closure. The main characters in romance will always end up together, either in a happily-ever-after or happily-for-now. And while we do this, an author must still maintain the same emotion that they have built throughout the story. Pulling those heart strings of the reader.  

For instance, in one of my stories, Rest, My Love, the black moment comes when Rahl, the leading man’s PTSD comes to a head and when he finds the leading lady, Sage, in the arms of another man comforting her. He punches the man and Sage has to make the hard decision to end their relationship for his sake as he needs to concentrate on getting better.

Rest, My Love Excerpt: 

“Sage…” Rahl stepped toward me and reached out.

I stepped back and the rain dribbled down my cheek, like tears but colder. “No. I just came out here to tell you that we need to take a break, Rahl. I need a break from us.”

“You don’t mean that. You’re my angel. We were brought together to save—”

“Each other? It seems like I’m trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. I’m getting sucked into your vortex of guilt and anger and I can’t handle it. I just started to love life again.” I stared into those eyes that melted a part of my heart. “Because of you.” My bottom lip tingled with the want to kiss him, but I fought giving in. “But you’re taking that away from me.”

“I love you, Sage.”

My body shuddered, some from the cold rain and some from struggling not to give in, but I needed to be strong. “I know you love me. From the moment you said it, I never doubted that fact.”

“Then can we just forget what happened?”

I didn’t want to forget, I wanted him to remember, to remember that his actions hurt people, and I couldn’t stand by and watch him crumble and take me down with him.

“No. I can’t forget. Just like you can’t forget the things that have happened to you and the things you know about Easton, and the darkness that is eating you from the inside out and the memories and fears that cloud your judgment.” I hiccupped a sob. “I forgive you for everything, but there are other people you need to atone to, including yourself. I don’t want to be another person to get caught in one of your explosions of impulsive emotion.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you, but he had his hands on you.”

“No, you didn’t mean to hit me, but if you hadn’t gone straight to violence and let me talk to you, you would have found out that Ollie and I are…” I swallowed as I stared into the eyes that melted my willpower. I looked away.

Maybe it would be easier for him to think the worst? If there is a time to be a good liar, it is now.

I stood straight. “You would’ve found out that Ollie and I are starting a relationship and you and I … we are finished.”

Rahl’s face paled. “You’re lying. You told me he was nothing.”

I mumbled, “I pray you get better, Rahl,” and tried to skirt past him.

He moved in front of me. “No, I don’t accept it. I don’t know why you’re lying to me but I’ll find out.” His hand ran down my arm to my wrist and he brought it to his mouth for a gentle kiss. “You’re killing me, Sage.”

Water droplets showered me as I shook my head. “No, Rahl. You’re killing yourself.”

Now, I could’ve done many things to bring them back together, but in the end, I had to torture them a little while longer while they were apart and give the reader more reasons for wanting them to come back together. I’m not going to tell you what I did, but it showed how much they were meant to be together, so when they actually ended up in the same room and Rahl was all better, the lightning bolts flew between them like they were two thunderstorms colliding, and when the storm was over, everything was good again, and then I had one more chapter to finish up all the tiny loose ends.

And their love is true, beautiful, and the real deal.

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When an author really comes to the end, the last sentences can make or break the novel. That final moment needs to remind the reader of something important, a repeated theme or a special element between the two characters. A final piece of the puzzle to make the reader go–YES!  

In Rest, My Love, I bring back something that Sage said to Rahl in the first chapter. So Sage says: 

I hadn’t forgotten my past, but I lived for the future and Rahl had decided to do the same.

And together we would create the sweet music of love for the rest of our lives.

Only you, Rahl. Only … you.

So the end can make or break a novel. Make sure yours gives the reader what they want, but not always exactly as they want. A surprise is always a good thing. 

Okay, until next Monday.

Hugs and ❤ Jules

GIFs from http://www.giphy.com. 

Conflict: Ramp up Drama by Jules Dixon #WritingTips #MondayMessages @JulesofTripleR

Conflict: Ramp up Drama

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Last week I talked about beginnings of stories and this week I’m taking on the dreaded…sagging middle of a story…aka Act II…and the part where all the drama and plot happens in a story. And as much as I want to believe authors celebrate and acknowledge this section of the story, the fact is a lack of true conflict in stories happens too frequently and too many plots are easily resolved with one question.

Act One, the beginning, is exciting to write because you’re inventing people, places, and problems. The end or Act III is easy because it’s a culmination of tension and the reveal of either love or death or a moment that changes everything—a black moment.

But it’s the stuff in the middle of those two that takes a lot of work.

Sometimes combining action, dialogue, setting, and so much more into words comes naturally–I’d say about 1.945% of the time for 1.982% of the writers. But the other 98.008% of us writers have to think about how to make a story sing and keep readers interested…and more. Because if we don’t, we can end up writing a story where no drama, no events, no problems, and no progress ever exists.

And it’s a fact…

giphy (46)Readers want drama.

Readers want problems. Readers want to see characters mixed up and torn down and drug through the mud before they figure their lives out. Readers do not want a blasé, so-so, emotionally bereft story with characters who never progress from the first chapter and remain exactly the same. But planning the drama can take energy and is always a hard examination of what your character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts really are.

So “sagging middles” happen when characters in a story are just living their ho-hum lives. Sagging middles of stories occur when characters aren’t faced with major hurdles to lead to changes in both their external lives and their internal emotions. And boring–ahem, I mean sagging–middles continue when characters don’t face problems head on in a timely manner.

Imagine reading a book where the author tells you the brand of toothpaste a character loves? Why does it matter? Normally that kind of information doesn’t. BUT…if he’s self-conscious about his teeth cause he stopped smoking three years ago after a long bout of lung cancer and the stains remind him of how close he came to mortality, knowing why he thinks about what kind of toothpaste he chooses could be the beginning of a conflict which could propel a reader forward.

It’s examining what conflict is needed to show the themes and will resonate toward a solution most effectively.

 

My writing friend, Cheryl St. John relays that in romance, the central conflict usually revolves around “Why can’t he love her?” and “Why can’t she love him?”. What is it keeping the two lovers apart?

This conflict usually involves two sides: an internal component (emotional/past event/himself) and an external component (man/nature/inanimate object).

For example:

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A cowboy/ rancher sets his sights on the mayor’s daughter who moved back to town after her husband died in an accident, but in the process of wooing her, he not only to find out the mayor is coming for his land to create a new state park but that the object of his affection remains loyal to her father.

So in the example, we have good conflict, but it’s always about ratcheting up the conflict that helps to make a story go from interesting to great. Hurdles for the character to overcome are those conflicts.

I’ve heard of an exercise when trying to figure out the conflicts of an Act II. Take your main conflict and write it on a 3×5 notecard. Then start dreaming up other conflicts that could happen. Fill out a new card for each, starting it with “but” or “but then”. And then other conflicts.

In our example, ratcheting and advancing might include:

But his brother wants to sell out to use the money to follow his own dream.

But then the house catches on fire on the property and our cowboy/rancher has to live in the barn.

But the property has been in his family for 200 years, he feels an obligation.

But he’s had a crush on this girl since high school when he was a geek and she was the shy girl who never spoke to anyone.

But back then he was a geek, but not anymore, he’s matured in all the right ways.

But she won’t call him back and when he sees her in town she ignores him.

But the mayor has a heart attack and his love is upset.

But she has never rebelled against her father.

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After a writer has 15-20 cards with conflicts, then they can decide which ones seem most likely and write the meat of the story off of those conflicts. When determining conflict take a look at each card trying to see if there is dilemma, denial or decision to be written out…and how much drama is there to be explored. Which ones lead to great dialogue? Which conflicts can’t be handled quickly? Do any of these hinder his ability to get his goal?

What we need to keep in mind is that drama is between two people—not one sided. If the hero and heroine aren’t actually clashing or coming to heads about something important to both of them, it’s a lost battle from the beginning and the reader won’t care. In every scene, one character wants something from another character.

There you have it–Conflict–ratchet up the drama writers! Bring on the emotional issues, the people who want to keep them apart, and the storms to drown readers on an excitement roller coaster.

Next week I’ll be talking about the end of a story.

Until then–have a great week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

All gifs from Giphy.com.

Starting Again–Writing and Blogging by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages

Starting Again–Writing and Blogging

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So the Naughty Quills is now reorganized and we have new posting days for most or all of us. So I get to kick the weeks off from now on and I’m excited about this!

Today I’d like to talk about starting again as the topic relates to writing…and blogging.

As writers, we start again… a lot. Obviously, every story begins somewhere. And that place holds importance.

Beginnings are scary. If they don’t hold enough power, then readers aren’t interested. If they hold too much power and the story doesn’t hold up to the grandiosity of the beginning, then readers are upset the story wasn’t as epic as promised.

Act I, as the beginning of a three act structure is referred to, is the setup of the story. This portion is usually about 25% of the book. This time not only shows the hero/heroine in their normal environment but also sets the mood, characterizations, setting, and details the reader will want to know going forward.

The beginning of the book has to have a hook, a goal for the hero/heroine to achieve or a problem for the hero/heroine to overcome. This portion also presents the main conflict, both internal and external, by jumping into the action and getting the hero or heroine to go in a different direction or to question what they thought. Along with these conflicts, we will often learn their motivation–why is this goal important to them?

Lots of writers, editors, agents, etc will say there are ways that you should NEVER start a story. And although they mean well, I say start the story and then fix it from there. Don’t worry about the rules and standards and dos and don’ts.

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We all have different styles. What works for me as a beginning won’t always work for another writer, but that’s great! Beginnings are like sunglasses–what works on my face, doesn’t work on my daughter’s, but we share a DNA like writers share a passion. So we search for the right pair, the right look for us, the right color or shape.

And the same goes for beginnings. It’s a search. It’s trying things out. It’s making the mistake of wearing Audrey Hepburn sized glasses but finding out John Lennon circle glasses work the best.

giphy (44)Same with blogging. We all have different topics, strengths, weaknesses, issues that we face, so no two blogs–even if they’re on the same topic–will ever be the same.

A few other articles you might want to take a look at:

10 Ways to Start Your Story Better by Jacob M. Appel

Why Stories Should Never Start at the Beginning by Chuck Wendig

Plotting a Novel in Three Acts Opening Scene by Janalyn Voigt

My rules that I set up in my first post on Naughty Quills still stand and can be found here, Hump Day Hangout A New Girl on the Naughty Block.

So go try on different styles and colors of sunglasses because the right beginning can be blinding!

Next week I’ll look at Act II–the middle of a story.

Until then, have a great week everyone!

Jules

All Gifs from Giphy.com