Happily Ever After: Writerly Musings by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #MondayMessages #AmWriting (or am I?)

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Oh, if it were just that easy to start a story … or finish it with “and they lived happily ever after”. But … it isn’t.

**Sigh**

The last two years I’ve focused on improving my writing by taking classes and reading books, and talking to other authors about plotting, characterization, themes, motifs (which, um, still like wtf?), arcs, first act, second act, black moment, third act, resolution, until my head spun and  my heart sunk.

Could I ever be the writer that XYZ is? Or would I ever say the words as eloquently, excitedly, ferociously (etc., etc.) as ABC?  Would I ever stop using adverbs? 😉

Or am I just as good as I ever will be?

giphy (82)The questions haunted my gut like a bad fruitcake for the last quarter of 2016 while I continued to write and throw away words. And write and discard words. And write and chop words. Finally, the words ground to a halt. Not some cool sliding to the side and gray smoke in the air from the tires rubbing on the pavement stop, but a jerked-against-the-seatbelt, airbags-in-face, whiplashy stop.

 

And then after I’d celebrated 2017 in a grand fashion with all the hopes and resolutions my head could concoct, I was boohooing through a day and my mentor had had enough and she slapped me. No, not physically, but ironically with words. She said “Stop that $hit! Be the writer you are, but be better each time.” Or something very similar to that fact. Whatever it was, the words and sentiment made me think just long enough and deep enough that I realized I don’t want to be like XYZ or ABC…

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I just want to be Jules Dixon.

 

I want to write about people who have problems and solve them with friends and family by their sides.

I want to write stories that find their way into people’s hearts and they remember how they felt reading about these people’s lives.

I want to find inspiration in everyday moments and share them with readers so they sigh and ooh and ah and feel.

I want to release a part of me into words and then let it go. Let. It. Go.

I want to take each day as a new beginning and know that there is no real end to writing.

I want to …. live happily ever after.

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But for that to happen, I have to make it happen.

This above post originally aired on my website in January. I have no come to understand that this post was a turning point for me. I now have a different direction to go with my writing career and I’m more excited about writing and the new projects I’ll take on that aren’t writing, but writing related.

Sometimes happily ever after comes slowly. But when you take a few steps back, you can see it coming and how to make a plan to make it the best happily ever after possible.

Hoping that your 2017 is turning out to be everything you wish for.

Happy Monday!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

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

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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

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50 Wild and Crazy Romance Writing Prompts by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR

50 Wild and Crazy Romance Writing Prompts by Jules Dixon

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Something I love to do is write from writing prompts. For me they are short little snippets of wonderful to get my brain working before I try to write in something more important. They’re the appetizer of the writing world for a writer’s brain instead of their stomach.

And occasionally I like to make up writing prompts…and sometimes those prompts turn a little wild and crazy…and romancey…and strange.

I thought today I’d share the ones I’ve concocted over the last year. These are purely just ideas for authors to take and run with. If anyone decides to use one, I’d love to hear where you went with but no credit need to be given. At the bottom I wrote a 200 word take on one of them!

  1. Raincoats and Condoms
  2. Where she left off and he began
  3. A dress to be removed
  4. Making love in Madison, Wisconsin
  5. The two left shoes she found in the morning
  6. Hearts and Headaches
  7. Flirting his way into her pants
  8. Around the corner fate and a hotdog cart were waiting
  9. The storm grate ate her patent black Mary-Jane shoe
  10. Love is love is hard, but so is a dildo
  11. Night and the morning after
  12. A glimpse into his future wife
  13. Reflections of hate in a Starbucks window
  14. Birdseed and the woman in a pink hat
  15. Her cat didn’t like him
  16. Cherry was her name and her favorite fruit
  17. He forked and served her
  18. Alex Trebek turned her on
  19. Alex Trebek turned her off
  20. Forgotten love and ballet slippers
  21. How toothpicks got me laid
  22. Where there’s a will there’s Ms. Jade
  23. Hot flashes and fireflies
  24. I don’t bite. Oh, yeah, I do.
  25. Flowing down the river to Sexyville
  26. My last boyfriend did that, too
  27. He wore his tie like a cape
  28. She owned every color of Sharpie, but only used black
  29. The milk container, like my heart, was empty
  30. He thought the playground was a good place to meet women
  31. The yesterday before today’s tomorrow
  32. Quarters for the dryer
  33. She asked for water in a martini glass
  34. He loved her raspberry-colored shoes
  35. Making love to nothing
  36. Stretching her mind, body and soul
  37. Flip-flops and mimosas
  38. He’d always called her “Kate,” but her name was Kelly.
  39. Sushi doesn’t love you back
  40. She never made it to the post office
  41. Sea glass and seagull poop on her head, she had her mother’s luck.
  42. The neighbor mowed his lawn topless in January
  43. Her boob fell out while she bought tequila
  44. The maid of honor strangled the bride with a pink feather boa
  45. They agreed that Earth, Wind, and Fire had that “it” factor
  46. Never drive through South Dakota alone
  47. The elevator never came
  48. 48 spices and she only used pepper
  49. Love will find a way to muck up your life
  50. His sheets were like sandpaper

Her Cat Didn’t Like Him

The fact stood, Miss Wiggles judged men.

I’d invited Jason back to my place after a work function at Applebee’s. I hated Applebee’s, but since I liked Jason, I didn’t complain.

He seemed to have his shit together. Accountant. Good teeth and nice breath. Hair that looked like he went to a salon and not his sister’s house for a buzz cut. He’d paid for drinks so he had a few dollars in his bank account or at least room on his credit card. And a body that rivaled Michelangelo’s David, so I wasn’t complaining there either.

But Miss Wiggles hissed and caterwauled her way around the room, never taking her big blue eyes off of him.

We started making out hot and heavy on my couch when he screamed out, but not in pleasure, “Your cat just bit me!”

“Are you okay?” I shooed the thin white fluff ball away, but she made her way onto the back of the sofa.

He rubbed the spot. “I think so. Where were we?”

And with that question, Miss Wiggles answered him by jumping onto Jason’s head and clawing at his perfectly styled hair. Clumps of brown hair flew like confetti on New Year’s Eve.

Within seconds he was out the door and I was staring at a cat that looked smugger than an IRS agent.

In the morning, I found his phone pressed haphazardly in between two cushions.

Six messages from six girls.

I’d been saved by a rescued alley cat.

Miss Wiggles was a good judge of character.

The End.

So there you have it. Writing prompt gone wild.

Hope you have a great Wednesday! Happpyyy Humping! ❤ Jules

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So You Want To Be a Writer? by Jules Dixon @JulesOfTripleR #HumpDayHangout

So You Want to Be a Writer?

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There is no higher high than when a new author submits to a publisher and the story is accepted or the author decides to take the path of self-publishing and sees their baby on a variety of publishing platforms. It’s like climbing a mountain and standing at the peak in awe of the dirt on your boots and the lack of oxygen making your head spin. In a good way. Kind of.

But first, as with any journey, it begins with a single step. And yes, that is a take on a famous saying but it still fits.

I hear it a lot…

“I’d love to be an author!” or “I have a great idea for a story.” or “I started writing this story 9 years, 6 months, and 27 days ago. I haven’t picked it up since, but I really think it would be great. Will you take a look at it?”

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And that’s great!

But writing is not easy. Writing has rules. Writing has standards. Writing is hard. 

Like really hard.

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So when someone comes to me and says those words “I want to write a book.” I am all on board. Seriously. I am willing to listen and to encourage and to cheer them on. But…I won’t write it for them. And I won’t critique everything they write. And although I will listen when they start to feel the pressure, I will not give them permission to stop writing, because only they can give themselves that. I believe in finishing what you start, but I understand when someone can’t do that. Each journey is the writer’s only.

So where do you start? 

Of course, an idea is good. But that’s only a teeny-tiny piece of a story.

First, a writer has to figure out what point of view is right for the story.

Then there are characters and setting to consider.

Then plotting, conflicts and acts to figure out.

Then arcs of the characters to solidify.

Then what ending will wrap up all storylines.

And those are basics, it gets really deep…like complicated…like crazy complicated to write a good story. A really GREAT story.

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So…where to start is here…

READ! Read craft books that talk about developing stories and the basics and the middles and all the rest.

A few of the ones I have in my library are:

Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel that Stands Out by K.M. Weiland

There are plenty of others that can be of use, too and I’d love to know about more if you have a favorite . But the point is…read about how to write and how to write well. At least you have a foundation to build your story on. And then sit down and write. Because to get to “The End” you have to trudge through the beginning and the middle.

So if you want to write…do it! Prepare and do it!

And as always…HUMP DAY HAPPINESS to all! ❤ Jules

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It’s What You Say AND How You Say It: Power of Critiques by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR for @RavenMcAllan

It’s What you Say AND How You Say It: Power of Critiques

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Raven McAllan sends her best to everyone. She’s feeling under the weather, so I’m going to fill in for her today with a topic I’ll be presenting to my Romance Writers of America group, Romance Authors of the Heartland. We hope you feel better, Raven. Hugs.<3

So, critiquing for other authors can be an extremely daunting task. Often it’s hard to understand where to start, what to say, and how to be most helpful to the author’s work without changing the author’s voice. Plus, we have to believe that our opinion is worthy of being offered. That’s often as much of an accomplishment as the critiquing.

Before I start, I want to point out that critiquing is not really concerned with grammatical issues or punctuation problems, but if you catch a few of those and note them to the author, he or she will be all the more thankful for it.

Critiquing is usually a “higher level” look at the story, including characterization, plotline, continuity, dialogue, conflict, pacing, and more.

A few things to keep in mind when you’re reviewing another author’s work…

First, consider the author’s voice.

If possible, read another one of the writer’s finished works to understand what voice the author considers true to their writing. Do they have a consistent beat to their prose? Do they have a special way of involving a backstory? Do they take the time to point out details that might not seem important to you, but have importance to the character or story in the end so that you’re not pointing out something that might be cleared in conclusion?

Make all attempts not to change the writer’s voice. You don’t have to love their voice, but it is not yours to alter.

Second, know your strengths and communicate them to the author.

If you are wonderful at character development and elaborate plotlines, tell them beforehand, but if you struggle in developing conflict or finding authentic and differentiating dialogue for characters, then get that out on the table, too. We’re not going to be fantastic at everything, so if the author really struggles in the same areas as you do, it will be hard to be effective. So, you have to be as honest with yourself as you are with them.

Third, be constructive with your words and avoid vague platitudes or being overly critical. Be sensitive, but honest.

The point is to help the writer consider ways to improve the work. You may say something like, “I like the plotline and how you effectively close the main character’s relationship up. Please take a look at the side plot of XYZ, I think there might be a loose end there.” Maybe the writer has questioned the issue in their mind too, but he or she needed to hear it from you to validate the point.

Don’t be shy, but keep in mind that changing things like character names, plotlines, and such isn’t up to you. You work within what the author provides you pointing out issues and problems as you see them. It is their circus and their monkeys. You are in the bleachers watching and writing a report on the chaos and tricks of the monkeys.

Critiquing isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. I’ve learned so much about my own writing by helping others and finding issues or enjoying phenomenal writing that inspires me, which is an added benefit, too.

What else do you think is helpful in critiquing or receiving critiques from others?

Now get out there and help each other! 🙂

 

 

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block with @JulesofTripleR #HumpDayHangout

The Ole WB Came for Me: How I Survived Writer’s Block

There are two words I won’t say out loud together.

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Writer’s.

Ahem–Block.

 

Heck, I hate even writing them! I’ll say WB over the real words any day.

But I’m gonna come out and raise a white flag. Yes. I had the condition and I’m not afraid to admit it. And I’m here to tell of my tale.

From July of 2016 until two days ago, I fought for words. There were days when a few/dozen/two dozen was good enough. Some of my writing friends would point out that I still completed manuscripts, and yes, I did start and finish two novels and three short stories since then, but I did it in a fugue that I’d never experienced.

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Since August of 2013, I’d been on a writing frenzy. Words clamoring to get out of me. I’d liken the writing deluge of words to beginner’s luck if I believed in that, but still, the words came and the words stayed for tea and cookies…and tequila. Lots of tequila over the years.

But then three years almost to the date of when I started really writing fiction and romance, I crashed. There were days I stared at the screen for hours. My mind became a white board of desolation. And there was no marker to even scribble a hangman or sunshine to be found. Anywhere.

I thought maybe it was Seasonal Affective Disorder taking me over a little early. Sneaky thing seasonal depression is, hitting a person in a different way every year. Sometimes I go down in January when the holiday’s high is over. Sometimes at the holidays I find myself tumbling when I’m overwhelmed or emotional watching my kids open presents. They’re 22 and 20, so really it’s them opening their banking apps and seeing I transferred money, but there are stockings.

And there have been a few years where I just become a pile of human goo for three months out of the year—November, December, January. Thankfully those really bad years been few and far in between, but they have happened.

But I didn’t know what I know now.

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Not only was I experiencing my regular depression, but I was fatigued, exhausted, collapsing mentally because I didn’t give myself breaks. Three years of writing almost every day. YES, every, damned, day. If I didn’t, I imagined I was behind. I fought to “catch up” and I am here to tell you…there is NO catching up. There is only moving forward, taking each day as it comes, and rolling with the muses fucking punches.

I traveled to Canada for a retreat that my publisher, Evernight Publishing, held for their authors. The event was fantastic. I met some of the nicest people on the earth, including Kacey Hammell of Naughty-Quills. Lovely woman. But I returned to Omaha, Nebraska more out of sorts and more overwhelmed than before. I dragged myself out of bed each day because I had other commitments. I’d planned a 25 author signing event. I had to do the right thing cause I don’t quit—obviously.

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I was elected Prez of my local romance writer’s chapter. I slid farther down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and anxiety. Full on distress.

Wasn’t easy to keep up the appearance of having my shit together, but I did it.

I thought maybe I needed more sunlight. So I got a sunlamp and basically stayed up for two days in a row after using it. Apparently, I was too sensitive. My doctor said, “Stop using it, you have a real chance of having a psychotic episode”. That didn’t sound like fun. So I put it away.

Then came the holidays and I kept busy with shopping and events, but I’d open my computer and… nothing. So few synapses in my brain putting out good thoughts or hell even any thoughts. I would have taken bad, too.

I took the last half of December off and went to Denver, Colorado for New Year’s. My hubby and our friend did their best to keep me going and getting out with the peoples of the world, but I was über miserable.

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But I had commitments, so I kept up. I showed up. I made up. I faced up. I tied up. Put up. Shut up. And fixed up. What I could.

My mentor, Corrissa James, did what she could to encourage me and help me through the rough days, and I thank her and the other writing friends who stuck it out with me and encouraged me. And then there are others who will probably read this and say—WTF? I never would have guessed in a million years.

And that’s one of my points. We can never know what’s going on inside another person. Don’t guess. Don’t assume. And please, for the love of god, don’t judge.

February came around. The month of love. One of my favorite times of the year. I experienced a little improvement early in the month and I put a few words to the page. More than January, but less than December because I pushed myself to just get shit done in December, but that backfired, too. In January, my holiday short stories received a couple bad reviews. I only know the number (1’s and 2’s ain’t good, my friends) but not the words of the review cause I don’t read them, but it’s enough to know my readers weren’t happy. And I wasn’t happy.

And then the plague came on last week. Nothing like the f’ing upper respiratory flu to knock you down until you think death would be the sweeter passageway. I fought through and by the weekend I was doing better. And I actually had some hope. My muse was calling out and strutting…

giphy-21And this week, that vixen demanded I write a new story in the same series as a story accepted by my publisher for their newest male/male alpha anthology. Shifter wolves with special abilities.

So I wrote. And over the last thirty-six hours, 9100+ words have poured from me. This isn’t a record for me, and certainly many authors consider that a light day, but it’s a good thing for me. A good omen. She’s baaaaack! I have some of my spring back. My brain cloud is lifted and I’m ready to face writing again without wondering what the day will bring.

So, if you’re in you’re struggling out there, a little of the old WB got you down. Keep the hope. Muses are fickle beings. And then again, sometimes you need to realize when you need a break and take breaks. And don’t push yourself. Be good to you, and that muse will be good to you, too.

**And note: I know I’ve made this semi-amusing but depression is nothing to laugh about. I know this cause I live and have lived it. So, if you’re experiencing any thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, or hurting yourself or others, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US.

To celebrate my return to good writing days, here’s an excerpt (unedited) from what’s spilled from my muse in the last two days.

Mooncrest: Saving Honor

Her eyes widened. “No. I … you … we … not possible.” She inhaled small gasping breaths. “We’re … friends.”

He searched her pooling gray eyes to see if on any level she instinctually comprehended the truth, but she’d lost the ability to feel and trust. Only confusion and fear hazed her dilated pupils.

It was time to lay his feelings on the line, and even if she still rejected him, he’d keep trying. She was his. There was no turning back.

“Honor Creed, I’ve loved you for five long years, watching while another man put his hands on you, feeling in my soul your unhappiness, but there was nothing I could do about our torture … until now. Now, you’re free from him. I don’t want to stop being your friend. I want to be more to you. Mother Wolf told me when I was eighteen you were going to be the greatest love I’d ever know. You’ve been hurt. You need time. I understand. But—you and me—it’s gonna happen.”

Love, Jules AND Happy HUMP day, peeeeeeples!

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All Gifs from Giphy.com. 

 

Hump Day Hangout-A New Girl on the Naughty Block #HumpDayHangout with @JulesofTripleR

Hump Day Hangout-A New Girl on the Naughty Block

Waves to everyone! Hello out there!

SONY DSCFirst, a giant thank you to Naughty Quills for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this blog and to have a little voice in this great big world.**Mwah** and ❤ to all of you.

Second, I’m the new girl on the naughty block–Jules Dixon. I write New Adult Romance from the biggest small town you’ll ever visit, Omaha, Nebraska. This area is also known as the heartland of the USA, which is pretty fitting for penning stories of love and romance. I write about all versions/combos of love, but near to my heart is writing Male/Male and Female/Female romance, but hell, any romance that makes my heart tick-tick a little faster is fair game.

Today I’d like to talk about what you’ll be seeing from me and what you won’t be seeing here on the blog in the future.

YES!—Tips on writing, everything from plotting methods to character sketch ideas. Even things that I love in books, like tropes and common characters and settings.

No—Politics. As much as I have an opinion, you’ll never hear it. Hump Days will be for getting away and taking a break from it all.

YES!—Sexy snippets from my past and upcoming books and pictures that go with them. Learn about my worlds and who I see in them!

No—Bashing of writers or the writing world. This business is rough and has good and bad, but we don’t need to make it rougher on each other. I promise to only uplift and encourage.

YES!—Things that make me go…hmmm? Whether that is something that happened to me or something I read in the reading and writing world. If it sticks with me, you might see me hang it out here for thoughts.

No—Bull$hit/click bait marketing. As much as I’d love for you to buy my books, I’ll never ask you to. If you find me interesting and like what I write here, then you make the first move. I’m kinda shy, so I’ll never make a move on you. Promise.

YES!—Always to end with a funny hump day meme that will get you through your day with a smile.

Speaking of smiles, just so you can put a face with a name—here’s me.

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I go through hair colors as if a rainbow sits on my head. Right now the strands are kind of a magenta-raspberry blend with blonde, but there’s been purple and teal and hot pink and…well, maybe someday I’ll ask for a vote on the next color here.

 

 

So, next week let’s promise to have a date. Right back here. I’ll bring the tequila, you bring the limes. ‘Til then, here’s your hump day meme…

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❤ Jules

 

 

Be careful with that shtick #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

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It’s Sunday folks, which means it’s time for Moira to post. Hope you’ve all had a great week. It’s been an interesting one I have to admit, not always in a good way but at least it provides plenty of fodder for my writing.

Before I get started on this weeks post, a huge shout out to our newest member Jules Dixon who will be taking over our Friday posting slot as Michelle Roth steps aside to focus on her writing, and all things she needs to. We’re thrilled to have Jules joining us and can’t wait to see what she might have to share.

This week I need to be straight with you authors. Lay off the gimmicks already! While it’s one thing to use a shtick (Yiddish for gimmick) in your promo, it’s another to constantly be using it in your writing. There is a huge difference between plotline, and a gimmick. I think some of you may need to learn the difference, and quickly.

3d cartoon laughing, 3d renderingNow, I’m NOT saying you should not have characters with unique “special traits, interests, or activities”, that isn’t what this is about. What I want to discuss is the same, running gag line in some series. Once is a belly laugh, twice is a chuckle, three times gets old and earns an eye roll. Don’t even get me started on when I see it in four or more books in the same series.

A plotline is one thing, and if your series has a continuous plotline from book one to forty, great! This provides a continuity between each unique book in the series tying them all together. There are authors out there that are MASTERS of this, making each book a stand-alone while still melding each from the series tightly together. This is a good thing.

But a running shtick gets old, and fast. Have a gimmick between two of your characters during their story, go for it, it provides a little side humor and shows a deeper bond between them especially when it’s in fun, and done properly. When it runs for a series, and every single character – can you say “boring”? Readers will spot it nearly as fast as they will that glaring spelling mistake in your first paragraph, and they WILL call you on it. Don’t keep doing the same thing time and again. Tried and true is okay, but it won’t bring in new readers, and it won’t keep the ones you have in the long haul. So drop the shtick, and grow your skills. In the end you’ll thank yourself for doing it, and your readers will too.

XO Moira Callahan

Hombre Fuerte