Monday, April 11, 2022

Help! I need somebody!

Not just anybody...

Writers shouldn't work alone. The IWSG Anthology #7 Authors share their thoughts on how they don't suffer through the process alone.

Writing is a collaborative process. Few of us do it alone. A bit like it takes a village to raise a child, often it takes a team to write a book. Sure, the author comes up with the premise, the beats, the first draft, but depending on the author's process, then the collaboration begins. Some authors may call for help/input earlier, but I usually discuss my story idea with my critique partners, then don't show them any more until I'm happy with my draft. Then the fun begins. We meet face to face, sometimes we Skype, and often I just share chapters via email (especially those all-important opening chapters) to gauge reactions. Yes, I use beta readers and editors, but my critique partners are the most crucial element for me in writing a book.
-- Denise Covey, "Marmalade Sunset"

A handful of trusted author friends serve as my critique partners. We exchange manuscripts with each other and provide the first layer of critique. I also have a group I call on for beta reading, which is the next step in the process. This group is a mixture of authors, avid readers, and members of my street team. They have the advantage of reading my books for free in exchange for giving me their opinions about the story and--though it's not a requirement--hopefully leaving a review. 

After that, the book goes to my mom. She has her own editing business, and I hire her to do a proofread. I freelance as an editor, but I still get a professional copy edit. It's impossible for authors to edit their own work. Our eyes gloss right over the mistakes, because we know what the story is supposed to say. The final layer after those corrections are made is having the book files formatted (Kindle, Nook, Paperback). Once that's done, I read through them on their respective devices, to make sure the formatting looks as it should and to make one last pass to catch any missed errors. (I'm sick of my book by now. LOL) Lastly, the files get uploaded to the retailers, and I click publish. -- Melissa Maygrove, "My Heart Approves"

While I have been a member of some great critique groups in the past, I have not had that pleasure for quite some time. However, I recently returned to school to work on a Master's degree. A few fellow classmates as well as my professors have been providing some great feedback and inspiration. I highly recommend all writers attempt to connect with at least a few others that you can share and learn alongside. Writing can be such a solitary and frustrating experience. The craft can be much more enjoyable if you have someone to share your pains, losses, and accomplishments with you. -- Sylvia Ney, "Paper Faces"

After I finish a draft of a story, I print it up, then take it to the woods. There I perform an arcane ritual involving burning sage, twenty-two candles and a half-dead goat to summon Kilogard, the Proof-Reading Demon. It’s complicated, dangerous and every time I do it, it costs me one year of my life. But it’s still easier than getting my friends and relatives to give me feedback. -- Templeton Moss, "My First Love(s)"

A friend from college and a former coworker read my work and offer suggestions. The two of them have very different literary tastes, and their input gives me a lot to think about! My writing has improved so much thanks to them. After several rounds of edits based on their feedback, my mom proofreads my final draft. Sometimes my husband agrees to look over my manuscript, but romance isn’t really his genre. His contribution is keeping the kids out of my hair. -- Kim Elliott, "Clyde and Coalesce"

I had to redo the whole thing, but I think we have it fixed!

I hope these bits of wit and wisdom were helpful and/or entertaining!

Keep writing.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Feeling Lucky?

Where do writers get their inspiration?

That's what we asked our IWSG #7 FIRST LOVE authors this month, and here's what they said...

"I find inspiration and ideas in so many places: while dreaming, exercising, reading a great book, watching a good movie, listening to music, traveling – anything that gets me away from work and relaxed. I try to read and write every day. I read a variety of fiction genres, books on the craft, and blogs of other authors. I have a variety of interests and hobbies. I love learning about the history of other cultures, and studying people. There is so much inspiration in the world. The human race is an astounding species and we've been capable of some of the most amazing and horrific acts. Those universal traits can inspire so many tales - both fiction and nonfiction." -- Sylvia Ney, Paper Faces

"Inspiration for stories can come from anywhere. All it takes is something to make me imagine a scene, and my writer's brain runs with it. If I feel it's worthy enough to turn into a book, I jot the idea in a folder of story ideas and save it.

The inspiration for my debut novel, Come Back, came from a nonfiction book I was reading with my daughter. It was about a teen girl traveling on the Oregon Trail. It mentioned the many possessions -even furniture- that westward travelers threw out along the side of the trail to lighten the weight of the wagons. I thought, "Hm... If I can find a way to get the heroine left behind, she could use that stuff to survive until the hero found her." I felt so clever, until I remembered I had to come up with the rest of the plot." -- Melissa Maygrove, My Heart Approves

"Once a year, I mount an expedition to the Caves of Samalando, wherein is located the Lake of Krambastallah, home to the Great Spirit Fish, Ted. I speak to Ted the ancient, sacred words (“Murfreesboro, Tennessee”) and in return, he gifts me with a Stone of Inspiration, providing me with all the creative ideas I need for the next twelve months. It’s a dangerous and complex process, but the upside is I can claim the whole thing as a business expense and write it off my taxes. Ted is a dependent." -- Templeton Moss, My First Love(s)

"I’m inspired by books, movies, TV, real life…pretty much everything. Usually it starts with finding a character or scene that I can’t get out of my mind. If I’m still thinking about it days later, I start asking “What if?” What if that character were evil instead of good? What if the story happened in a different time period? Before long, I’ve gone down so many rabbit holes that I’m left with something brand new and exciting!" -- Kim Elliot, Clyde and Coalesce

"Old Europe has always been my favorite destination and became the inspiration for my stories, from flash fiction to full-length novels. From my six months of living in France, and countless visits to Paris, I have so many story ideas filling my head and my notebooks. I've published my first Paris novel, a womens' fiction/romance, Paris Dreams, which combines my love of fashion and art. I am working on the next which highlights traditional French cooking. My vampire romance series is set in Renaissance Italy, which combines my love of history with my deep love for Italy. Writing stories inspired by my travels means I can vicariously visit any time I wish." -- Denise Covey, Marmalade Sunset

"I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve come to believe that writers co-create with the universe—that it offers us bits and pieces of information/inspiration because it wants us to do something with them. It’s happened when listening to music, while watching movies, when a character’s name fell right into my lap…. It’s never just 'thinking' about something; it always feels like more, somehow. So I take these bits and pieces and ruminate on them, adding and subtracting in the best interest of the story, and draw on whatever additional insights the universe is willing to toss my way with gratitude as I work toward 'The End.'" -- Katie Klein, How to Save a Princess

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Writers have a special ability to find a story from the smallest whisper to the most powerful bang, from past reality to future fantasy. Let your imagination run wild!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Love is in the air...

Happy Cupid Day!

Time to spread some love... a few of the authors of FIRST LOVE, IWSG Anthology #7 would like to share some lovely thoughts about how they and/or their characters romanticize Valentine's Day!

Delicate Delights from Sylvia Ney
In 1912 Louisiana at the turn of the 20th century, postcards became a popular way of sending Valentine greetings. So, it's very likely they would have sent their loved ones something like what you see here. They also traded flowers, fat red hearts full of chocolates, heart-shaped cookies and cakes, stick candy, and even nuts. As socialites, the main characters in PAPER FACES, James and Helen would be extremely busy on Valentine's Day. They would have held a themed party that included dinners with favors, sweet treats as mentioned above, plus the exchange of those cards. However, they would also have found some private time to celebrate just the two of them.

Love at Third Sight by Templeton Moss
For me, Valentine’s Day is Jack Benny Day because one of my all-time favorite comedians was born on February 14th, 1894. And here is a favorite true life love story concerning this star of stage, screen, radio and television:

    It all started in 1921 when Zeppo Marx invited fellow vaudevillian Jack Benny to a Passover seder for his for fourteen-year-old cousin Sadie. The young girl desperately tried to appear grownup and kept fawning over Jack, who was twice her age and found her attentions embarrassing. 
    Five years later, they were set up on a blind date. Sadie was about the most beautiful girl Jack had ever seen, and he didn’t make the connection to the annoying young seder. Sadie remembered Jack and treated him coolly. When Jack found out where she worked, he went to see her every single day. But she told him he had to buy something if he wanted to hang around, so he bought stockings from her each and every day, helping her set all-time sales records for her department. Finally, they were married, and Sadie asked her new husband if he remembered attending a seder with Zeppo Marx.
    “I’ll never forget it,” said Jack. “There was some silly little girl…all dressed up in her sister’s clothes.”
    “That silly little girl is your wife, Jack.”

Timeless Romance by Melissa Maygrove
Mr. John Harding is the hero of MY HEART APPROVES. He would do the same as any wealthy man in 1865 and order an exquisite Valentine's Day card from The New England Valentine Company run by Esther Howland. Mr. Harding would spare no expense choosing a card with lines of verse as well as ribbons, hidden doors, and layers of gilded lace. It would cost an entire dollar, but John wouldn't care. He would happily purchase it and present it to his beloved Adelaide on a moonlit terrace at Lindmoor, his Portland estate.

Sweets & Snuggles with Kim Elliot
My husband knows me better than anyone, which is why I suspect he’ll give me a dozen assorted Krispy Kreme doughnuts for Valentine’s Day. For his gift, I usually bake a batch of his favorite shortbread cookies cut into heart shapes with strawberry jam centers. Our gifts may sound like a lot of sugar, but we have to share with the kids too. After putting the little ones to bed, we’ll order from our favorite sushi place, cuddle on the couch, and watch Star Trek: DS9. I love being married to a fellow nerd!

Love Every Day from Denise Covey
When you're in a loving relationship, Valentine's Day is every day, not just one day of the year. My characters have never celebrated Valentine's Day, perhaps because I don't, but at WEP (Write...Edit...Publish), an online writing community I co-run, we always offer a prompt in February which can be an ode to Valentine's Day... or not, depending on the writer's attitude to romance.

We hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day
Be with those you love and show them love every day!


Monday, January 10, 2022

Sweet Sensations!

We have a New IWSG Anthology!
Can't believe we are on lucky number SEVEN. And there was a record number of entries this year. Fantastic! It's exciting to see so many writers keeping their creativity flowing and in the fray.

So CONGRATULATIONS to the New IWSG Anthology Authors in FIRST LOVE, The Art of Making Doughnuts...  A fun, fitting title for this year's Sweet Romance and First Love Theme.

The Art of Making Doughnuts - Linda Budzinski
Paper Faces - Sylvia Ney
The Real Thing - Sammi Spizziri
My Heart Approves - Melissa Maygrove
Oliver’s Girl - Michael Di Gesu
Clyde and Coalesce - Kim Elliot
My First Love(s) - Templeton Moss
How to Save a Princess - Katie Klein
The Castle of Ohno - SE White
Marmalade Sunset - Denise Covey

Looks scrumptuous! Can't wait to sink my teeth into some Sweet Stories.

Stay tuned to meet the authors and hear more about their tempting first love tales.