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Thursday, October 31, 2013

No NaNoWriMo Plot? Last Minute Tips

In  honor of National Novel Writing Month, I'll be running a series of posts featuring tips on writing craft and NaNoWriMo strategies straight from the mouths of fellow authors and NaNo participants.

Don't have a plot with NaNo is just hours away? There's still time!  To kick off the month, here's some great advice from 7-time NaNo winner Claxton A. Graham. Take it away, Claxton!

Surviving and Thriving During NaNoWriMo
by Claxton A. Graham

Santa Claus gets kidnapped by a race of alien woman.

Las Vegas gets wiped out by a major earthquake.

And a humble newspaper editor becomes a game show hero.

Welcome to my NaNoWriMo experience.

Seven times between 2004 and 2010, I took up this heart-pounding, brain-stretching challenge. Seven times the official NaNoWriMo word counter declared me a winner. The whole purpose of NaNoWriMo, of course, is to write a 50,000-word story in 30 days. To hit that target requires writing an average of 1,667 words during each of those 30 days. And the only way to reach that mark is to keep writing.

While the more serious of writers may arrive at November 1 with massive outlines and character bibles under the arms, ready to write the first draft of their vision of the Great American Novel, it's not required to succeed at NaNoWriMo. What is required, though, is knowing a little something about the story you want to tell. The five W's of journalism can also apply to succeeding at NaNoWriMo.

1. Who is the star of your story?
Your main character and the supporting players are the lynchpins of your story.

2. What story do you want to tell?
You can find virtually every type of story among the ranks of your fellow writers at NaNoWriMo. There's adventure, romance, horror, disaster, and comedy – sometimes all in the same story.

3. When does your story take place?
A story set against the backdrop of the realistic past can be just as compelling as a story set in the future yet to come.

4. Where does your story take place?
Our world provides a treasure trove of locales in which to set a story. So too does your imagination.

5. Why does your story need to be told?
This is a question that only you, the writer, can answer. And the answers will vary Some will tell their story in hopes of finding a large audience. Others will do it just because it's something they've always wanted to do.

One more thing to keep in mind as you embark on this challenge. When words fail you and you get stuck in a scene, exposition can become your best friend. Never mind that the apple your main character or the hummingbird flitting from branch to branch isn't a key point in your plot. Either one can be worth a couple hundred words if you can write about nothing else, and possibly help you get unstuck.

Above all else, have fun with NaNoWriMo. The people that started NaNoWriMo didn't undertake the challenge to become best-selling authors or internationally famous. They did it for the heck of it, and it grew into what it is today. The word counter isn't the only thin that declares you a winner in this exercise. If you can walk away from it having learned a thing or two, having had some fun in the process, you won.

(Note: for more info on NaNoWriMo, visit http://nanowrimo.org.)

About the Author

Claxton A. Graham is a seven-time NaNoWriMo champion, having completed the challenge every year between 2004 and 2010. His writing experience also includes op-ed, news and sports scripts for radio, commercials for television and radio, and technical specifications for paper and electronic forms. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and works as a business analyst.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hardworking Heroes with Guest Em Petrova

Today I have a special guest: author Em Petrova. She's here to talk about her sizzling new book, Hardworking Heroes. Em, tell us how you got the idea for this book!

The idea for my brand of romance was born when I realized I don’t know jack about a man in a boardroom/penthouse/courtroom/or any other office. Most of the men in my lives dig ditches for a living. Or they drive tractors.
That old “write what you know” always comes to mind when I type my tagline: “Hardworking heroes—in bed and out”. I know common men who work on engines, with tools and animals, and in the woods and fields.
You can say all my guys are rough around the edges—firemen, cowboys, loggers, and all around country boys. Except Monroe.
Monroe is a supernatural who consumes human thoughts as fuel. He travels a dark city in a tricked-out Hummer and wears all black leather. His job? He works with his hands—and his mind. He fixes things, builds them. But he can control objects with his mind and could, say, fix your broken toaster with a flick of his mind.
What woman wouldn’t need this kind of man in her bed? Read on for an excerpt from my brand new Loose Id release, ZERO TO LOVE.

 Zero to Love
by Em Petrova

Star-crossed lovers Magda and Monroe must overcome racial differences and fight off the evil Free Wills to save the city and their romance.

Excerpt:
“Magda.” He rolled onto one hip to stare down at her. The upper bow of her lip distracted the hell out of him, and for a solid sixty seconds, he couldn’t remember what he’d been about to say.
She flattened a palm on his chest, and it all flooded back.
“Tell me more about your parents, about Elijah and your childhood.”
“Can’t you see everything?” Her voice was husky from her screams of bliss.
He traced her lower lip with his thumb. Should he tell her? Or did she know? Finally he let out the breath he was holding. They had come this far together. She was as good as his, even if he couldn’t feed from her thoughts. While her emotions were delicious, he wanted all of her.
Shaking his head, he said, “Not everything. Your mind is… Magda, those Free Wills are after you for a reason.”
Shock flitted over her face, a dark shadow of emotion he didn’t want to consume. But he did. He had to take it away from her. It slid into his psyche, and he felt his mind grow more powerful. A few more gulps of her, and he’d have enough strength for another cerebral boom. Hopefully that wouldn’t be necessary.
She fisted a hand on his chest. “After me?”
He nodded, wanting more than anything to look away, but she deserved better. “The reason your memory is full of holes—spotty—is because you are their victim, baby. In your childhood, they cleaned you out. Stole all your memories.”
“What?” Her voice was a ragged whisper.
“No one ever told you.” It wasn’t a question. Her family was obviously shielding her from Mindchangers. That thought catcher hadn’t been placed in her room because they liked what it added to the decor.
She shook her head hard, and her red waves tumbled over the cloud-blue pillowcase. A number five cushioning a brain holding a number one.
“But if I was a victim of a Free Will attack, what thoughts did they place in my mind? What doesn’t belong to me?” Panic leaked from her.
Throat constricted, Monroe wrapped his arms around her and tucked her tightly against his chest. Pressing his lips to her ear, he devoured her emotion, disgusted by the black oiliness of it. When he gave her the answer, he didn’t want her to see the fury in his eyes.
“The Free Wills didn’t give anything back in this case, baby. It’s almost never heard of. They just took.”
“How much?” A violent shiver gripped her, and he held her tighter.
He probed her mind, already knowing the answer before he spoke. “All of it. They only left enough to keep your heart beating.”


Thank you so much for stopping by!
Em Petrova
~hardworking heroes—in bed and out~


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers -Guest Author Jocelyn Dex

It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


Today I'm thrilled to have special guest Jocelyn Dex, author of the Sempire Seduction series, including the newly released Valia's Villain. To celebrate her release, Jocelyn not only has an awesome recipe to share, but she's doing a giveaway. See the Rafflecopter box below to enter. Welcome, Jocelyn!


Thank you for having me on your blog for the release of the second book, Valia’s Villain, in my Sempire Seductions series! In honor of Valia’s love of pineapples, I decided to share a simple shrimp and pineapple skewer recipe with you. If you think you like pineapple raw, wait until you try it grilled. It’s fantastic. Your taste buds will love you.

Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers

Ingredients
1 pound (16-20) shrimp peeled
2 slices pineapple cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Garlic (to taste)
Cajun seasoning or other spicy seasoning (to taste)
Olive oil

Directions
Put shrimp in a bowl and pour enough olive oil over them to give each shrimp a light coat. Dump in some garlic and Cajun seasoning--however much suits your tastes. I tend to go crazy with the garlic, but that’s just me. Use your hands to toss the shrimp around until each is coated with a decent amount of seasoning.

Skewer the shrimp and pineapple. Alternate. One pineapple, then one shrimp, etc...

Place skewers on a medium high heat grill and grill for 1-3 minutes per side. You’ll know their done when the shrimp is pink. Also I recommend a charcoal grill. I swear it has better flavor.

That’s all there is to it and it’s freaking delicious. Hope you enjoy it!

It sounds like heaven! I definitely want to try this. Thank you for sharing the recipe! And since Jocelyn has a new release out, I wanted to share a little about that as well.


Valia’s Villain by Jocelyn Dex
Sempire Seductions, Book 2
                                
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Length: 36,000 words
ISBN: 9781419948275        

When Valia approaches the Ferox demon, hoping for scorching sex and a feed, she doesn’t expect to be handcuffed, transported to the demon realm, accused of dirty deeds she has no memory of committing and held captive for three days.  Even though she believes her captor to be crazy, she feels a connection to him she’s felt with no one else.

When Rydin senses the Sempire who locked him up, fed on him and used him as a sex slave many years ago, he knows his wait for revenge is finally over. Burning with the need to punish her, he imprisons her in the demon realm, where she is at his mercy, but as much as he tries to ignore it, a connection sparks between them every time they touch.

About the Author
Jocelyn was born in Iowa and currently resides in hot-as-hell Texas. She shares her home with her very own 6'4" alpha male and varying numbers of spoiled cats and dogs. Teaching one of her dogs to file his nails is one of her all-time favorite accomplishments.

She thinks dragonflies are awesome, spiders are creepy and it’s rumored that she sleeps with a machete by her bed in case zombies attack in the middle of the night. Jocelyn loves to paint, loves to read, and loves to write sizzling erotic romance about yummy demons that would make your momma blush.

Here’s where you can find Jocelyn on the web


Giveaway - Runs from 10/23 to 10/31:
1 Ebook Copy of Araya’s Addiction, Book 1 of the Sempire Seductions Series
1 Swag Pack - Various Stuff
1 $15 Bitch Face Cosmetics Gift Card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

About the host:
J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A NaNoWriMo Schedule That's Fun--and Works!

Ladies and gents, start your engines: another NaNoWriMo fast approaches! All over the globe, writers are scrambling to finish their outlines, fine tune their characters, and stock up on all manner of snacks to get them through the thirty days of intense, focused writing. If you’ve done all this already, one thing remains: giving yourself a leg up by putting a schedule into place that guarantees success.

My NaNo schedule can help pretty much anyone who’s staring down that 50k challenge, but it is especially useful for:
*Procrastinators
*Writers who are already over-scheduled
*Previous NaNo participants who didn’t cross the finish line

Ready for the schedule that will help cure the above? Let’s do it. All you need is an open mind and a blank calendar program. There are nice free ones available, like Google or Yahoo! Calendars.

My NaNoWriMo Schedule

Time to Decompress From Stress
First off, open your calendar to November. On November 1st, pick a half-hour slot of your choice that you will reserve as sacred “ME” time. No NaNo, no work, no chores, etc. This is absolutely essential, especially for those who tend to get overwhelmed/stressed during NaNo or who wind up getting bored with their writing. Now select the calendar option that lets you set this up as a recurring event, and slate this time for every single day of NaNo. You now have built-in downtime for a little R&R so you can decompress.

Boost Word Count With…Time Off!

The one thing that people tend to discount altogether when jumping into NaNo is one of the most important to include, and that is time off. This can help you prevent burnout, writer’s block, and giving up because it’s too stressful to cram so much writing into your jam-packed day. So step two of my NaNoWriMo schedule is to look at that calendar and select one day per week where you will take a 1/2 day off from work/school/writing. No NaNo, homework, and ideally, no chores. This is your FUN day, and you should label it as such! Get out in the fresh air, if possible. Meet friends for coffee. See a movie. Read. Or just sleep in and veg out. Again, set this as a recurring event each week of the challenge.

You might be surprised the first two steps to my “NaNo” schedule involve finding time NOT to write, rather than stuffing word count into every available minute. Certainly there ARE people who do NaNo that way year after year, and maybe they don’t need this approach. But for those who have trouble fathoming how to fit NaNo into an already busy life, this method can help ensure you have enough down time built in to refill the creative wellspring that will keep words flowing to the end.

Daily Writing Time
NOW we can set aside that magical time for word count! While 50k in 30 days sounds almost insurmountable, it’s actually quite doable when you break it down into the daily goal. Truth is, if you can type faster than 28 words per minute, you can reach the 1667 word daily NaNoWriMo goal in just 1 hour! This is especially true if you come prepared and have your inner editor firmly locked away. There are lots of good advice posts on how to do both of these things, so if you need help on them, search my blog posts under the NaNoWriMo label and do some Googling before you start!
So you need a mere one hour per day in your schedule. If even that much sounds daunting, however, there’s no law that says it has to happen in one fell swoop. Consider your daily schedule and decide how best to work in that hour so that the rest of your obligations can flow in around it. Here are some suggested ways to get that hour in:
*Set your alarm an hour earlier each day. Works for early birds best! (Don’t forget to reset the timer on your coffee pot as well—you’ll need it!)
*Plan to stay awake an extra hour at night and burn the midnight oil (better for night owls)
*Set the alarm 1/2 hour earlier for your first word sprint, then do another sprint before bed. (A little kinder than a full hour early)
*Write during your lunch hour
*Write as soon as you get home (arrange someone else to make dinner, or lay in a supply of quick-fix meals)
*Write during your commute to and from work/school.
This one is easiest if you ride the bus/train or carpool with someone else, but if you’re the one driving, it’s still doable! Get a mini recorder or use the recording feature on your phone/device and dictate your novel. Then transcribe it later on your lunch break or at home.

Establish Weekend Catch Up/Get Ahead Sprints




Weekend is a relative term, meaning really your regular days off from the primary work/school obligation. Now chances are that one of these days is also when you’ve slated your 1/2 day off, and that’s okay. Either sometimes during the other 1/2 or on another “weekend” day, you’ll want to do a big word sprint push. Give yourself either a time limit or a word count goal for these “push” days (say, 3 hours or 5k). This is very helpful to either get you caught up if you didn’t make your word count all week, or else to give you bonus padding in case something comes up down the road that derails writing that day (and it always does).
I know of people who have successfully completed NaNo solely by writing on the weekends. Doing 10 5k sprints (or the other way around) gets it done. So if you absolutely couldn’t manage to wring an hour a day out of your schedule, you can still do this!

That’s it! You have your schedule with time for writing, fun, decompressing, and make-up days. Adjust the schedule if necessary as you go along. Maybe you decided to get up an hour early, but that didn’t work out. No problem—just move your writing time later. Do what it takes for you to stick to the schedule, and you should find yourself crossing the finish line!
Good luck, and happy NaNoing!



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saved by a god -Snippet Sunday

~~Today's Snippet contains mature themes~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday. Since I’m still in plotting mode for my next project and gearing up for NaNoWriMo, today’s snippet is from my published urban fantasy IMMORTAL MENAGE, Book 4 of the Immortal Paradise series.

(Edited to meet the 8-sentence format.) 

Lexie had taken an ill-advised midnight swim all alone when a man came out of nowhere to save her from a shark attack she hadn't even known was coming...

Lexie let out a little yelp when her rescuer plucked her up in his arms again and carried her up the beach to where her belongings still sat. She had to admit his strength was impressive. He swam out to her, fought her resistance, pulled both of them through the surf, and now still carried her as though her weight was of no consequence.
He crouched and laid her down on the large towel she’d spread out before taking her incredibly stupid swim. Long strands of his jet-black hair dripped water onto her face and chest while he pulled his arms out from beneath her. He lingered there, hovering with the turbulent flame in his eyes searing through her. His very skin seemed to radiate sexuality, as though every bead of salt water rippling down his bronzed flesh were in fact a potent aphrodisiac. The energy she felt from him flooded her with thoughts having nothing to do with her near-death experience.
  
     Immortal Menage by J. Rose Allister
Book 4 of the Immortal Paradise series
BUY NOW

Preview Trailer:


~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *
For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~

I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Best Bloggers in the 10 Day Challenge -Day 10

I'm participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge that was created over at Hunting Down Writing.

This is it! The final day of the 10-day challenge. And I must admit, this is one of my favorite of all that prompts.

Day 10: List 5 top blog posts from fellow participants in this challenge. Link to them, and say why you enjoyed them.

Yes indeed! I had the opportunity to check out quite a few of my fellow challenge writer's posts, and I truly enjoyed it.

Amanda L. Webster's Day 1 post on whether writers should blog about writing summed up beautifully how I feel on the subject. She includes the fact that reaching out to teach others can actually teach ourselves, something I touched on in my post about my bizarre writing habits.

Roxanne Crouse's Day 1 post was an elevator pitch that I really enjoyed, plus I could totally relate to her waiting on a magic thought that would shove her progress along. I wish!

Catherine Mede's Day 2 post about writing confessions had me nodding and laughing. I admired the bravery in posting publicly things we all think as writers, especially that we aren't good enough. 

Catherine Mede's Day 3 post ...Catherine had me again with her author "bio", since she first talked about what goes into a good bio before applying it to her own. Bravo for an informative post!

Charity Tahmaseb's Day 8 Writing Routines post cracked me up! I laughed when she shared a dialogue she has with herself about writing. Too true.

~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Antagonist turned Heroine -10 day challenge day 9

I'm participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge that was created over at Hunting Down Writing.

Day 9: Post either a setting or character profile from your latest fiction project, a chapter summary of your non-fiction book, or a discussion of the theme or object inspiring a poem, article, or other writing project. 

I'm just gearing up for NaNoWriMo, and my project this year will be DISARMING COWBOYS, book 7 and final of my Lone Wolves of Shay Falls series. My basic profiles are rough since I flesh them out with individual character plot arcs. I also do a birth natal chart on characters, and I've included just a little of that here. Here's my character profile on Jayel, the female MC who up until this final book was a recurring antagonist causing all sorts of shenanigans for the wolves.

Jayel Louise Turk: Heroine
(antagonist in books 1-6)



   Age/birthday : 21 
Occupation: None (living on inheritance and odd jobs while busy hunting down the werewolves who killed her parents)
Physical Description: 5’8, fiery red hair, charcoal eyes, athletic, slightly upturned nose, delicate features that contrast with her hardened disposition
Personality: sarcastic, intelligent, highly determined. Desperate. In the past, more humorous and relaxed, and glimmers of that come through more as the book progresses.
Background: Lived with her parents in Shay Falls and was about to leave for college until the werewolf attack that killed them. Her brother was taken and turned by the pack. He was working a nearby ranch but had come home for the weekend for his sister’s going away to college party.
Internal Conflicts: Bitterness/anger about her parents’ deaths and the loss of her brother to werewolves. Vows revenge, which drives most of her actions. Feels guilt that Jayson was taken because had he not been home for her farewell party, he wouldn’t have been there for the attack. Ultimately, she will be challenged to face her two worst case scenarios: becoming a werewolf's mate and becoming a werewolf, period.
External Conflicts: Werewolves are after her because of her vendetta, and they capture her. Worse, two of the wolves at the ranch are interested in her for other reasons: they claim she's their mate. There is much indecision about what the packs want to do with her, and the primary alpha responsible for capturing her has the worst in mind. Plus the wolves who killed her parents return with other plans in mind, plans that could not only mean her end, but cost her brother his life as well.
Notes:
Sun in Leo

She is masterful, likes authority, aspires towards an ideal. A little too pretentious and always wanting things. She likes to give advice. She is honest, frank, loyal, open and sincere.

Weaknesses: pride, vanity, arrogance, presumption and disdain of others.

Moon in Virgo

She has a very good memory. Scientific or medical studies preferred above all others. She is humble and moderate, calm and reserved. Emotional discipline. She is willing to help, devoted and gentle.

Weaknesses: servile nature, frequent changes of occupation, gets annoyed, upset, worries. She is too shy.

Mercury in Leo

Ambitious, sincere, loyal, friendly and full of good cheer. Great sense of organization. Likes children and leisure time.

Weaknesses: likes to play games too much and can go too far, in spite of herself. Likes to play-act and do about-turns, which surprise and upset those concerned. Likes to take risks in jest and for amusement.

Venus in Leo

Sincere, frank and warm affections. She is full of tenderness. High hopes of love. She likes to live and satisfy her passions to the full. Protects and makes friends with those who can be useful.


Weaknesses: excess in pleasure and amusements. Haughty, boastful, pretentious: she is affected, and seduces for the sake of seducing to prove to herself that she is attractive (this gets worse with age).

~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Bizarre Writing Quirks -10 day challenge day 8

I'm participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge that was created over at Hunting Down Writing.

Day 8: Post about your writing rituals/habits/quirks

Quirks? Gee, it's like this challenge knows me. I frequently practice writing habits you don't see in "do this and succeed" articles on the craft. Allow me to bare my soul on a few highlights.

1. Frequent distraction is good for my word count.
You may have thought there was a typo in there, but there's not. I, like many I've commiserated with, am distracted by the internet, music, and the need for tea frequently and without warning. My short attention span had been a source of increasing alarm for me in the past few years-- until I moved. We had no internet access for over a month, and since I was off the distraction grid I had all sorts of grandiose ideas about how my productivity would soar. Nope. My writing completely flatlined. Seems that I NEED to stop, drop, and roll at the bidding of my flitting mind. So now I embrace the madness and skip off to Pinterest or YouTube when the mood strikes.

2. Two words: tribal drumming.
Drumming gets people moving, usually on their feet to sway to the rhythm. Me, it lights my creative urges. I can't count the number of scenes, from the naughtiest bits to deadly chases or wolves howling through the trees, that have been fueled solely by the power of wild pagan drums. Said drum music ideally has no lyrics, for otherwise I often find myself singing along in my head instead of "hearing" the words I'm supposed to write. There are exceptions, of course. Hymn to Herne by S.J. Tucker is a favorite, as is just about anything from Dragon Ritual Drummers or C.G. Ryche. And if I happen to hop up and dance around the imaginary fire for a minute to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing, so be it.

3. Teacher, teach thyself
I've had plenty of occasions over the years to share tidbits about craft, and whenever I do it reminds me that I'm the one still learning. My "student" will have a new idea I'm excited to try, or else a technique I'm recommending to someone else is one I realize I should be applying to a project on my own back (or front) burner. So I've come to believe that while there's a time to learn by reading/listening and a time to learn by doing, there's also a time to learn by teaching. 

~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My 1 - 2 Punch Writing Software -10 Day Challenge Day 7

I'm participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge that was created over at Hunting Down Writing.

Day 7: Profile 2 books you’ve read and loved lately-or describe the software and tools you use for writing.

I do love to read and have pounded back quite a number of books this year, but truth be known I've been off that wagon lately because of the pre-planning rush for NaNoWriMo.  Since I'm in that "zone", I'll highlight a couple pieces of software that I love for writing.

Character file using OneNote
OneNote (Windows)- This comes packaged with Microsoft Office, and I had totally overlooked it until a writer friend mentioned it. OneNote is like a virtual scrapbook I can add text, images, music, and video to. I can make outlines, detailed character files, etc as shown here, but most commonly I use it as a general ideas/inspiration notebook. I make a new notebook for each book. I know a lot of folks who use Pinterest as their inspirational scrapbook, and while I love that idea, this goes me one better. I have the ability to group images and unlimited streams of text together on a page (like the character file shown here). Plus if I hear a song that strikes me as great inspiration for a particular book or scene, I can import it right into the notebook so it'll be ready when it's time to write.
Outlining with OneNote


An awesome feature of OneNote is that I can grab images --or just a selected area of an image--right off the net and send it straight to the exact notebook page I want it on whether OneNote is currently open or not. Handy!   


Characters side by side in Scrivener
Scrivener (Windows or Mac) -While I love the versatility of OneNote, sometimes I find it a little too free-range and want something more plug and play. That's why I use Scrivener as my primary outlining/character file tool. The cork board feature is brilliant. It lets me add little virtual index cards in nice neat rows that snap into place. It's perfect for outlining. I can easily move the cards around when I'm working on the order of a scene (or book), but they automatically stay nice and neat. Like OneNote, I can also add images/video and "clip" them right to my notecards, plus I can type endless streams of notes and ideas that are visible when the card is clicked on. There's a split screen function that will let me pull up an image so I can see it while I'm typing. Importing images takes a bit more doing than OneNote, however, and requires the program to be open. Also, I can play music files right within OneNote, and Scrivener doesn't do that.
Outlining in Scrivener

Because each of these has advantages the other doesn't, I use both together. When I REALLY want them to work in tandem, I use Windows 8 split screen mode so I can have the OneNote scrapbook open on half the screen while I work in Scrivener. Best of both worlds! 
~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Newbies, Ninies, and Warriors -10 Day Challenge Day 6

I'm participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge that was created over at Hunting Down Writing.

I took a couple days off for my regular Snippet Sunday plus a special NaNoWriMo prep post yesterday. Today, instead of my usual Too Yummy Tuesday feature, I'm jumping back into the 10-day challenge and will be doing consecutive posts until the conclusion.

Day 6: Profile 4 writing-related sites you read regularly

I should preface this by saying my list contains sites I SHOULD read more often than I do! 

Ninie Hammon - The newest on my go-to list is fast becoming a favorite. Ninie offers unrelentingly useful advice on everything from 10 Essentials to a Dynamite Story to 3 Basics Will Revive Dead Dialogue.

Warrior Writers -Kristen Lamb's blog features posts like How to Make Sure Your NaNoWriMo Project Isn't a Hot Mess. Need I say more?

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing - Bestselling author J.A. Konrath's blog is the hands-down winner for the straight dope when it comes to publishing independently. Everything from press releases to cover art to whether it's really worth it to promote is covered in a funny, user-friendly format. Konrath is an "open book" on the subject of self-pub, even posting his sales figures.

Live Write Thrive - C.S. Lakin offers plenty of punch with her writing blog, including how to "shoot" a novel through the eyes of a filmmaker and using mind-mapping techniques to help with plotting. 

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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The 10-Minute Plotting Trick You Need Right Now

So you’re sitting down to work on your next (or first) novel when it suddenly hits you: your plot isnt working, youre bored, and/or you’ve got no idea what’s supposed to happen next. What do you do when a story is falling flat?

Whether you are a careful plotter or a happy pantser, this happens to every writer eventually. And let’s face it, it can really deflate your word count (not to mention your enthusiasm). Let me share a simple trick I like to use that I call Hit Point Outlining.

Label a blank document with numbers 1 through 10, or one for as many chapters as you think the story will have. Don’t worry about getting this exact. You can add/subtract later. Beside each number, you’re going to list the main “hit point” for that chapter, meaning the main conflict/obstacle/excitement that will drive events. Every chapter must have at least one. Right? Right.

The first and last chapters tend to be easiest, so do them now. Go down to #10 and jot a quick sentence summarizing the ending you’re visualizing. (If you’re a strict pantser, you may have no idea what this is yet. That’s okay—save this step for later.) Now do the same for #1, remembering to focus only on the “hit point”. For instance, instead of saying “Johnny drives to his new job, meets the budget-conscious boss, and breaks the new $20k copy machine,” skip right to “Johnny breaks the $20k copy machine his first day on the job”.
A "Hit Point" outline I did using Scrivener

Go to #2 and write just the hit point of the next chapter. Then move on to #3. At some point, your ending will either hit you if it hasn’t already, or else you may think up something better. Add it beside the last number. Just before that, write up the “hit point” that will become the book’s big climatic moment. (For some, this big moment WILL be in the final chapter, with a scene break for the denouement. That works too.)

You may find yourself coming up with more than one “hit point” per chapter. That’s fine! Add them. If along the way you realize you need more wiggle room to get from one conflict to the next, go ahead and insert in-between chapters. At some point, your list will meet in the middle, and you’ll have your completed Hit Point outline. Congratulations! I can generally get a ten-hit-point list done in about ten minutes, give or take.

While this may be a far quicker outlining method than the First this happens-then that-then another-and after those method, but this is a powerful tool. What this type of outline does is create a highlights-only overview to ensure every chapter drives plot and generates interest. It aids pacing greatly as well, because you’ll be able to see at a glance where the highs and lows are. Where too many lows string together, adjustments may be in order. I also find this way offers a better guide map for crafting than some other outline tricks I (still) use, since this focuses on where a chapter needs to wind up rather than how it should start out out. Oh, and did I mention you can also...

Use Hit-Point Outlining to Fix a Finished Manuscript!

Incidentally, this is a great trick to use after the fact on a troublesome draft you’re editing. If the completed book seems boring, flat, or otherwise questionable, fill out a Hit Point outline for it. This may reveal enough about the overall plot to identify the right spots you need to shuffle, add conflict to, or otherwise jazz up.

Happy plotting!

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On Mondays, I gab about pretty much whatever’s on my mind! For more gab, please join me on Twitter. I love talking to people!


J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.