Speedbo: More than A Monthly Goal Challenge

Speedbo participant

In the midst of working, helping with grandchildren and meeting the needs of my elderly parents I embarked on an adventure I almost skipped. I joined Speedbo for the month of March.

Speedbo ended yesterday. For those of you who missed my blog explaining Speedbo let me catch you up. Speedbo is sponsored by Seekerville. You sign up to accomplish one or more writing goals during the 31 days of March. Unlike NANOWRIMO you can devote the month to editing rather than just write. What you write and how you want to reach your goals is up to you. Send your goals to Seekerville and get started.

My goal

I wanted to write a new novel rough draft. I missed my 62,000 word goal by 1200 words. My goal was foremost about writing daily and word count was a great marker. Two thousand words a day no matter what. Matter did interrupt a few days, and I made most of that up by going over my word count other days. Technically, I wrote four new blogs during the month so my total word count for the month exceeded 62,000. But this word count made me a little shy of a completed rough draft but closer than I have ever gotten in a 31 day time frame. I am so excited to look back at all the interruptions and realize I still did it.

2015-04-01 07.30.44

What I learned.

  • I can write any time of day. I don’t just need to write in the morning. Being a morning person I tend to lose momentum in the creative department as the day lengthens. A few days this month my most creative times were evenings.
  • I discovered I can write in noise. My 2 year old granddaughter has developed a shriek lately that is like chalk on a blackboard. When I’m in the zone screechy two-year olds and loud giggles don’t reach my conscience mind.
  • Putting butt in chair can become a bigger inspiration than any muse or word prompt when you have a deadline. Every day I sat at my laptop and wrote. I could feel the inspirational parts rise out of the mess of words.
  • Even under pressure my characters still tell me what to write. I think they might be a bit pushier under pressure.
  • Scriviner software makes writing a manuscript easier. I chose to write by scenes rather than chapters. Now I can rearrange and expand on them and place them in the order I want in the editing process.
  • I still got reading in even in the midst of this self-imposed deadline. I read fewer books but I found the time.
  • I still got blogs and devotions written. Doing those helped stimulate my brain when it got numb from writing my novel draft.
  • Less TV is a good thing. There are times my family has games shows and reruns on that can draw you to sit and rest your work-weary mind. Choosing to write instead got my word count done.

What I knew before I started

  • I will work hard to meet a deadline. I work better with a deadline. My writing muse seems to appear more easily under pressure.
  • I get the other important things done because I make time each day for those things.
  • Family will always come first with or without a deadline.
  • Having an accountability partner only added to my determination to succeed. I’d acquired a new accountability partner at the beginning of the year. Knowing I had to report my progress every week already had me fired up about writing.

Conclusion

I will do Speedbo again in the future; it is life changing. Now I hope the habit is embedded in my DNA. So I will continue creating my own deadlines to see if I can maintain momentum throughout the rest of 2015.

Have you ever done Speedbo or NANOWRIMO or anything like them?

 

 

Don’t forget to click the button on the right if you want to keep following my blog.

Posted in Writing challenge, writing tips, Writng Goals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picturing your Character: The Dog Hero

The last two post have been about finding pictures to help envision my characters. I posted several pictures to help me create a compost of both Dan and Isabella. There is one more important character I needed to get a clearer picture of his appearance. My hero Dan Sweeney’s service dog. He has a dog to keep his panic attacks away and assist him when he falls. Service dogs detect symptoms before they occur and can be trained to do a number of tasks for their master. My heroine Isabella is afraid of dogs. So this creates an interesting dilemma. I wanted to choose a breed I love that is intelligent and gentle but he needed to be misunderstood. Looking at me as I typed my story was Kreeper, my son’s well-behaved, well-trained gentle Razor Edge bully pit. He is one of 265 breeds of pit bull. When he is trying to persuade you to feed him your popcorn, his pleading looks can melt your heart. But he can be alert and stand between you an impending danger. He thinks he’s a lapdog and often takes up the whole couch to snuggle next to any of the family. But I wanted Brutus to be kind of a mystery breed so I chose his heritage to be 50% German shepherd. They can be service dogs or guard dogs and are often used by the police. I wanted a macho dog for my wounded warrior. Some of you may not care for either breed. This is fine with Brutus because he’ll win you over as he does Isabella. Again I went online to find pictures to create my composite. I found pictures of both breeds.

Shepherds

Pit Bulls

When I googled Shepherd pit mixes I got these adorable creatures.

Brutus has Kreeper’s temperament and like all service dogs had been well-trained to work with his master. He is attentive to him first and foremost. For those who question my choice google the top ten vicious dogs. Dachshunds and Chihuahua are number one and two with larger breeds further down the list. Along with my son’s pit we have a dachshund living here, as well. The little one is more likely to have aggressive behavior toward a stranger entering our home. The large dog may injury you with the enthusiastic wagging of his tail.

When I envisioned Dan’s service dog I saw our pit bull and knew his bred was getting a bad rap so why not go against the norm of a golden retriever or a lab. A well-trained dog no matter the breed is a wonderful pet and companion. By making him a mix breed we concealed his negative identity until after our heroine discovers how loving he is. Fiction heroes need time to woo their readers even the furry variety.

What is your favorite breed of dog to read about?

If you enjoy reading my blogs please click the button to your right to subscribe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picturing Your Character: The Heroine

Monday I shared a new technique I was exploring to create my characters for the novel I’m working on during Speedbo. I shared a compilation of pictures I found on the internet to create my hero Dan Sweeney.

Now I want to show you a collection of pictures I found to help create my Hispanic heroine.

At the Start of the story Isabella has waist length hair

My character had waist length hair

My character had waist length hair

She is five foot two from Guatemala, adopted as a young girl. Isabella Wilson is starting over after the death of her husband. She gets a make-over cutting her hair short.

She becomes more stylish

Shoe Shopping

She enjoys wearing three inch heels. I am a practical footwear person myself so I went virtual shoe shopping to find what Isabella liked. Fortunately she doesn’t go for too outlandish of a style. Three inch heels help her feel more in control because she is so short.

I found perusing photos on the internet really was an interesting way to get a clearer picture of my characters. Keeping the photos handy as I tell my characters’ stories. References to their appearance chapter by chapter remains the same.

What techniques do you use to help create a character? Do you virtual shop for their clothes?

If you enjoy this post and would like to continue following me click the button on the right.

Posted in character description | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picture Your Character: The Hero

writing

Choosing your characters’ looks is always a challenge. As I work on my Work In Progress (WIP) I want to picture my characters. I tried something this time a few writers use to keep themselves focused on their characters. I searched for pictures on the internet to refer to as I write. The process became a bit of a challenge. There wasn’t one photo that fit the image I’d envisioned. I thought I’d post the three pictures I used to help me create a compilation character. It took a bit for Dan Sweeney to reveal himself to me. Even his name changed once we got acquainted. Dan Sweeney didn’t like the name Joe Martin. I guess Joe was a bit of a cliché name for a soldier. Dan is a wounded warrior with a prosthetic leg. He is blond and blue eyed. Looking through hundreds of photo sites, I found this soldier.

Photo one: Interesting. right hair color and eyes.

Find a picture like this for your character.

Find a picture like this for your character.

Looks pretty good.

But Dan has scars and a missing a leg. So I found this photo.

Photo 2: Wounded Warrior wrong hair color though.

Other characteristics from a second photo.

Other characteristics from a second photo.

Which gives me lots of interesting possibilities for my story. Dan has a scar on his jaw and neck so he grew a short beard and longer hair like the character Detective Marty Deeks of NCIS LA.

Photo 3: Eric Christian Olsen has the hair and beard I envision.

Eric Christian Olsen's press photo is the perfect inspiration for my character.

Eric Christian Olsen’s press photo is the perfect inspiration for my character.

Now I imagine a blond haired blue-eyed wounded warrior. He is 6 feet 2 inches and has to-die-for dimples partially hidden by a short trimmed beard. He has two missing fingers on his right hand, the pinkie and ring finger. And of course his prosthetic starts just below the right knee.

Can you envision him too?

I’m sure you have the perfect imagine in your mind based on your own creative imagination. As you read a novel, you’ll have your own image of a character that will carry you through the entire novel. As a writer it is important to keep the image in your head so he doesn’t suddenly grow a few inches or scratch freckles on his nose that weren’t there a few chapters earlier. The characters’ pictures should be posted in a prominent place to refer to as you write both to inspire and speak to you as you create their stories.

On Wednesday I’ll post my heroine’s photos.

How do you find inspiration for your character’s appearance?

Don’t forget to click the button on the right if you want to follow my blog.

Posted in character description, writing tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Should Attend Writers Conferences Part 1

Rowena Kuo is one of the wonderful editors full of encouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Rowena Kuo is one of the wonderful editors full of encouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Right in the middle of Speedbo I have no time to blog. So today and Wednesday I am reposting two post about Writers Conferences. A subject near and dear to my heart. My first conference changed my whole attitude about myself as a writer. So, here you go. Hope the reminder helps encourage you to attend one.

Serious Writers Attend Conferences

Every time I attend a writing conference I am reminded of why I write. My encouragement to every writer, no matter their age or experience, is to attend conferences. There is never a time in your writing career that you evolve out of writing conferences. It is a place to hone your craft and network with other like-minded people.

Basic reasons for attending

You gain knowledge of the business of writing through workshops and classes which cover a variety of subjects. Basic techniques for writing non-fiction and fiction books are usually offered. Classes are available on subjects ranging from writing articles to creating a stellar proposal. The opportunity to have appointments with publishers, editors and agents to pitch your story or idea is worth the price of the conference. Many of these editors, publishers and agents will not take any unsolicited submissions. But if you meet them at a conference, your pitch may garner you an open invitation to submit.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writing journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Networking

Conferences are a networking opportunity to meet other writers and be encouraged. One writer might direct you to a particular publisher who is seeking what you are writing. Established writers may give you personal introductions to the professionals you are seeking appointments with. Fledgling writers ask questions of other writers and get the encouragement and direction needed to turn their scribbles into successful submissions. You’ll discover writers who live in your area or a local writer’s group to join.

Encouragement

This is the place where everyone speaks your language. No one rolls their eyes when you say you’ve written a novel. You can practice your pitch with other writers before you pitch it at your appointment. Most conferences have critique groups of your peers to help you improve your writing. Unlike Aunt Sally who loves everything you write, they can tell you of any red flags in your writing that need fixing. That kind of encouragement makes the road to publication easier. The keynote speakers remind writers of their calling. A writer’s revival if you will, that helps each writer refocus. Rekindling the confidence that has been chipped away by editors’ rejections and life happens interruptions.

Lifelong Friendships

Every time you attend a conference you make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Writer friends add dimension to your life and open doors. Becoming friends with publishers that may not be interested in what you are writing now plants your name in their mind when the publisher’s needs change. Acquisition Editors change publishing houses, agents may open their own company. Having made their acquaintance puts you in a good position to become a client. Writer friends share the link to your new book or article on their blog, website or facebook page. Let’s not forget they are there when you feel stomped on by life and misunderstood in the industry.

Budget attending one conference a year

Serious writers know this is an important business expense. Decide on the conference you plan to attend early and put money aside in your budget for it. If your finances are so tight you can’t fit the cost in a monthly budget, apply for scholarships or grants. Conferences will offer a limited number of scholarships, either full or partial to attendees. Some offer work scholarships for locals who help with the preconference preparation. Do a Google search for writer’s grants or reference the Writer’s Market Guide and the Christian Writer’s Market Guide to pursue grant leads. The e-newsletter Funds for Writers has grant information in every issue.

Locate a conference near you

The Sally Stuart Conference Guide http://stuartmarket.com/Conferences.aspx is a great resource for finding the conference that is right for you.tion in every issue.

Why do you attend conferences?

If you wish to follow me please click the button on the right

Posted in attending conferences, writing tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attending a Writers Conference Part 2 Tips On Preparing

Here is another repost this week for preparing to attend a writers conference. Its not to early to start preparing for those coming up this summer. Hope you find these tips helpful.

writing

Before you attend a writers’ conference there are some things you need to do to prepare.

  • Research all the publishers and agents attending the event. Go to their websites and get to know them. Decide which ones you want to have appointments.
  • Have a clean copy of the first chapter of your manuscript or article.
  • Prepare a memorized pitch—a short description of your story idea that can be said in 90 seconds or less. Be brief but concise. Memorize it until it flows smoothly from your tongue.
  • Have written proposal. There are usual guidelines on the individual websites as well as many books available on the subject.
  • Clips—samples of other published work- if you have it. Magazine editors are interested in these.
  • Bring a business card. Minimum content your name and email address. Better with a headshot and website, blog and other links.  These you will exchange with other writes and give to those you pitch too.

Doing these things ahead of time prepares you for whatever the appoint time morphs into. Some pubs want a pitch others want to see a sample of your writing.

Things not to do at a conference

20130607_090105

  • Don’t waste the individuals time pitching something their company does not publish. This screams amateur. If the conference offers a panel of editors—attend that session. You will get the latest updates on their needs which could change you initial list of who to have appointments with.
  • Be open to criticism. One meeting may bring you rave reviews another may leave you feeling like the worse writer on the planet.
  • Don’t be late or an appointment and don’t go over you allotted time.
  • Keep your criticisms to yourself. If you are having a bad day don’t rain on others great ones. Your next appointment or workshop maybe the very thing you need to turn your attitude around.

An idea for newbies

I heard a great idea at the last conference I attended. One young lady set appointments with agents and publishers to ask questions. She had nothing to pitch but wanted to know more about how these professions worked. It gave her a feel for how to approach them in the future when she had something to pitch. She made contacts who would not be strangers when she pitched her stuff later making her less nervous.

Do what is required after the conference

Be prepared to return home and work. Work on proposals that were requested. Work on articles, not to mention perfecting those three chapters. Or work on rewriting, reworking and resubmitting based on the things you learned and the input you were given.

I’d love to hear your tips on maximizing your conference experience.

Please click on the subscribe button to follow me.

Posted in attending conferences | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mark Twain, Jane Austin and Me: A Lesson in Grace

A memory from earlier writing days came back to me when I read these quotes from Mark Twain someone had recently posted on Facebook.

Twain

“Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”
” I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

If you appreciate his humor, you’re laughing. If you adore Jane Austen, you are probably glad the man died ages ago lest you beat him with a shin bone. I found a more interesting lesson here.

Reflections

Reading Twain’s quote reminded me of a time in the 90’s when a dear friend introduced me to her daughter. She wanted us to meet because we were both writers. Her daughter had been published in the United Kingdom where she had been living for several years.

When I inquired what she wrote the conversation went something like this.

“I write horror.”

I am sure my face contorted in some offensive fashion. “I never read horror.”

“What do you write?” I’m sure her lips were in a firm thin line.

“I write Christian fiction.”

“Anyone with a crayon can write that.”

Yes she really did say that. And yes my hackles were up.

I assume we managed to have a civil conversation. I vaguely remember she explained to me how she reprogrammed the number pad on her computer for Gaelic accent marks.

I don’t recall her name. Perhaps she was an award winning writer and sold millions of copies. In retrospect it should never have been about who wrote the more noble subject matter. It wasn’t about who was the better writer; it was about preference. Not only what we preferred to write but where our passion was. Our passions were polar opposites.

Passion seasoned with grace

There are readers from all walks of life who enjoy our passion driven words. As writers we do no one any good by threatening to hit another author with a shin bone. We need to exercise grace in regard to our differences. Horror is still not my genre of choice. But I have learned from Stephen King about writing. Having reviewed a few horror books, I have grown to appreciate their value. Ted Dekker never ceases to get his readers to think on a deeper level. The experience has broadened my reading choices to include intriguing stories in science fiction and fantasy.

jane-austen--399--t-600x600-rw

I am not sure what exactly Mark Twain didn’t like about Jane Austin’s writing style, and his remarks obviously didn’t stop readers from purchasing her books. (FYI: They were not contemporaries. Twain was born twenty years after Austin died. ) Had they been contemporaries his remarks might have put a wedge between them.

Thinking about his words I realized I missed a great opportunity. If I had been less offended by the horror writer’s genre, perhaps that writer and I would have developed a lifelong friendship. Perhaps I might even have learned something about the craft of writing from her. Or she might have discovered writers of Christian fiction who don’t use crayons and opened her own horizons to new possibilities.

If you’d like to continue following my blog I would be delighted if you would click the button on the right. Please leave a comment I love hearing from readers.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment