Remember to Dream Big! Once More!

dream bigEverywhere I look lately people seem to be stressed out—floating through life uninspired. If they have big dreams, you wouldn’t know it by talking with them. Sure, life is hard and it’s easy to let our dreams slip away. They become more of an unrealistic fantasy than a possibility. I’ve told you before, and I’ll probably tell you a few million times more if that’s what it takes, but please DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

Did you know Morgan Freeman didn’t land his first big movie role until he was over fifty years old? Let that sink in a moment. He had done some work on stage and in television, but he didn’t make his true mark on cinema until he was the big 5-0. What if he’d given up trying in his thirties or forties because it was too hard, the competition was too tough, or he’d felt he was too old to break into the business? I hate to imagine the enormous void that Hollywood and we as movie goers would have suffered without his vast talent. The good news is we don’t have to imagine such a thing because Morgan Freeman had a dream AND he knew how to Dream Big!

I encourage you to get your dreams back and think of them often. Visualize your dream becoming a reality, down to the smallest detail. My big dream is to one day win an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Once you stop laughing, we can continue. 🙂 But seriously, it is.

There’s a scene, I let play over and over in my mind. I’m sitting in the audience of the Dolby Theater, waiting breathless as the screenwriter category is being announced. I can feel the soft silk of my gown brush against my legs. My eyes are downcast, too nervous to look up, and I can see where the chair in front of me is bolted to the floor. I feel the gentle squeeze of my husband’s fingers against mine as my name is announced along with the other nominees. I hear the actor say, “And the Oscar goes to Lori Waters for to be determined.”

My point is this; you need to clearly-visualize-your-dream as if it is already a reality! Of course, it’s going to take more than a visualization exercise to achieve your big dream.  A plan of action is required.

A successful dream is achieved by a series of accomplished goals.

Everyone needs to set goals. Setting goals holds us accountable. Every writer should have a word count goal rather it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. If your big dream is to hit the New York Times Best Sellers list, you must write the words.

Make sure your goals fit into your lifestyle. We all have different schedules, and one size does not fit all. For example, you may be best friends with Suzie Writes A lot. Suzie sits at her computer every day, even Thanksgiving and Christmas and writes 3,000 words. Nothing gets in the way of her daily word count. Well bravo to Suzie for accomplishing her daily goal, but please, please, please don’t force her goals upon yourself. You will end up falling head-first into a comparison black-hole, which in turn will leave your dreams and your self-esteem nowhere to be found.

I had a friend once say to me, “Lori, dreams are just a set up for failure and disappointment.” I respectfully, disagree. Dreams are the spark of hope that lives in each one of us encouraging us to do better and to be better. Without hope, what is there?

Don’t let living life on this complex planet steal your dreams. I will always have dreams, and I hope you will too.

And always remember to Dream Big!

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Bedazzled Brighton

Ornament I made my agent with pages from her favorite book she's written!

Ornament for my agent made with pages from her favorite book she’s written!

This month here on Bad Girlz Write, we’re talking about things we enjoy doing outside of reading and writing. And, I’ll be honest, reading and writing take up a good 87% of my time, so finding the energy/mental space/desire to do anything but starfish is hard.

Except when it comes to crafting.

And, okay, I don’t actually use a Bedazzler as I eluded to in the title (though my husband and I joke we should get one just to screw with our kids), but I do own a lot of crafty thingamabobs. Part of the reason for that is I’d see something I’d want to buy and realize it’d cost the same or less for me to buy the tools to actually make it than to have someone else do it for me. (This is a sickness of mine. Don’t feel like you need to be caught in the trap, too. It’s exhausting always thinking, “Hey, I could totally do that.”)

The truest necklace you could ever wear.

The truest necklace you could ever wear.

If I’m honest, this dates back more than a decade (*grabs cane and hobbles to front porch while yelling, “Get off my lawn!”*) when I first bought Photoshop. Now, no, Photoshop isn’t crafty per se, but it does allowing you to get creative and make one of a kind digital items and/or photographs. So that’s where it all started. Then I hopped on the scrapbook bandwagon (that wedding scrapbook is still sitting, a quarter completed. Hubs and I have been married for 14 years.). Then it was homemade cards (which, thankfully, I was able to use a plethora of my already-aquired scrapbook supplies). After that I took a bit of a breather for a while.

But then came everyone’s worst nightmare/best dream: Pinterest.

Remember that covered cereal box mail holder? Ahem.

Remember that covered cereal box mail holder? Ahem.

My God, the first three months of using that, I made so much crap, I can’t even remember it all. Some sort of decorative item with mason jars? Yes. A mail sorter made out of a recovered cereal box? Check. A menu planning board, New Year’s Resolution jar, bucket list contraption, recipe card organizer—all over it.

Book wreath I made for my sister using pages from her favorite Harry Potter book. Isn't she the luckiest?!

Book wreath I made for my sister using pages from her favorite Harry Potter book. Isn’t she the luckiest?!

Since then, I’ve acquired a few more crafting items, like hand stamping tools to make jewelry (which I actually still do!), and a Silhouette machine to make my own planner stickers (and maybe open a shop with them, too, idk idk idk). I also started hand lettering (very basically), and the day I figured out how to make a pocket folder for my Traveler’s Notebook, I proceeded to make six. Besides the stuff I stumble upon or seek out specifically for myself, every year my family exchanges homemade gifts for Christmas, so I get to hone my skills even more and try out new things and techniques.

What I’m saying is I have a fever and the only prescription is more crafts. Or cowbell.

I totally made this (tutu).

I totally made this (tutu).

But, hey, it makes me happy. And while I definitely have more money wrapped up into “inventory” than I’d like to think about, I know it’s one thing I can do to escape the every day crazy. Plus, as an added bonus, when I’m wearing/holding/working with something that I’ve created and someone compliments it, I get to say, “Thanks! I totally made it.”

 

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How To Not Lose Your Sh*t

Truth time: The last few weeks have been some of the most difficult, exhausting, and overwhelming in my life, and none of it has to do with writing. I’m talking about a real life adulting, one million items on my To Do list, sh*t storm of stress.

Show of hands, who else has been here? I see you! Big hugs to you (or fist bumps if you’re hug averse).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gone through the roller coaster process of selling my house, buying a new house, closing on both houses, packing up, moving, unpacking, transferring my child from one school to the next, getting my mother ready for a month long trip abroad, an unusual and insanely busy time at work, some personal life SNAFUs that I won’t get into, and yes, being on deadline.

But, I made it…I think.

How did I keep from going insane? For me, there is one fool proof therapy for all of life’s toils and trials. One activity outside of writing and working out or working it, that is guaranteed to take me out of my head and whatever quicksand pit of responsibility life has tossed me into, and allow me the five minutes to, oh – let’s say two hours, of respite required to bring me back to functioning level.

That thing is (and this should come as no surprise): FANGIRLING.

Yep. That’s the secret to my sanity. A daily dose of diving into a subject I love, yet has no link to my responsibilities, and is 100% selfishly for me. I don’t fangirl because it will bring me success or money. I don’t fangirl because it’s altruistic in any way. I do it for me.

A rewatch of Star Trek Into Darkness is an escape from a Sunday of packing fifty boxes. I can pack and watch Chris Pine being beautifully broken and begging for the lives of his crew while Benedict Crumblebread is like, “B*tch please. I will walk over your cold corpses. Peace out, Enterprise!”  

Taking half an hour at the end of the day to surf Twitter or Tumblr for fandom news, press tour clips, talk show appearances, Sebastian Stan’s face, reviews, gossip, whatever, about Marvel, Trek, Star Wars and occasionally DC (Because Wonder Woman is awesome and also Chris Pine), is how I unwind. A few funny memes or gifs, along with crazy cat videos, dog Vines, and baby goats being adorable – that is the kind of quality content I want filling my brain.

Watching Captain America: Civil War, three or four times, will be my reward for working my butt off the last few months. Captravaganza Weekend with BGW’s Jeanette Grey is the celebration of not only Steve and Bucky and Sam and all of my feelings, but a party to celebrate the fact that the months of February through April did not break me. They could have. They almost did! But I clung to the pieces by having this escape that is mine.

I suggest, to any writer, wife, mother, hard working lady: find something for you. Be it knitting or learning to pole dance, fangirling or fashioning cosplay outfits. Whatever. You need a little slice of life that doesn’t benefit anyone but that beautiful woman in the mirror.

Enjoy!

trek dress

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Are we there yet?

Yesterday, I was trapped in the car with my family for HOURS enjoyed some quality road-trip bonding time with my loved ones. And as I struggled to recall a time before the trip had started, a time before slow people using the left lane (ARGH!), a time before my thighs had fused with the leather seat, I realized that publishing is a road-trip.

Writers have a clear destination in mind: we want to be published. Beyond that, mileage may vary. Perhaps you have a single, poignant story you’re yearning to tell; perhaps you want to create a long-running series. Maybe your dream is to be a best-seller some day or have your characters eventually show up on a movie screen. But, first, you must publish. There are many routes. You can sell to a big New York publisher or a small indie press. You can self-publish your own work. Whatever route you take, beware the short cut. If the man with the map in the passenger seat tells you something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is–NOT THAT I’M BITTER ABOUT THE NEEDLESS EXTRA HOUR MY HUSBAND TACKED ONTO OUR TRIP.

I won’t lie. The journey is rough. You may experience rejection letters more traumatic than the worst gas station bathroom you’ve ever seen. There will be bickering in the backseat (everything from your characters being uncooperative and whiny to arguing with your own self-doubt). There will be detours and delays. Publishing. Moves. Very. Slowly. Except when it doesn’t. Ever been belting out a Bon Jovi song on a straight stretch of road, look down and realize, “Oh, SHIT, I didn’t know I was going 95!”? There will be moments like that in your career. Exhilarating, but potentially panic-inducing.

There will also be marvelous experiences along the way. I have discovered funky restaurants off the beaten path and once saw a spectacular meteor shower while driving through Kentucky at 2 a.m. (I didn’t get a pic because 1) dark, 2) driving, but please enjoy this random sky pic I snapped during our latest trip.)

sky

Ever been traveling in the same set of clothes for so long that once you reached your destination, you kind of wanted to burn them? Excellent practice for being on deadline. And some of the same things that can make a road-trip great (friends and a bad-ass playlist) will also help with your writing journey.

Even if construction slows you down and you have to proceed at a soul-crushing five miles an hour, you can still get where you’re going. Maybe not as fast or as easily as you had hoped, but keep going. It is so worth it when you can finally look at your publishing contract or cover art or book on a store shelf and know I Have Arrived!bk

(Of course, the journey doesn’t end just because you pull into the parking lot or driveway. What, you thought all those suitcases were going to unload themselves? Even after the book is done, you have work to do. Like, say, promotion. Would this be a good time to mention that FALLING FOR THE RANCHER hit stores this week? I would be extremely grateful if you were to pick up a copy of this small-town romance about an unapologetically stubborn physical therapist and the hot cowboy who temporarily becomes her roommate. You can buy it here. After all, what’s a road-trip without great reading material?)

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So You Want to Be a Writer…

We’re almost upon graduation season, and I’ve been thinking about those folks who want to be writers. Consider this a specialized graduation address directed to you:

My fellow scribblers, do think twice before you settle on an English major* and nothing else. Had I to do undergrad and/or grad school all over again, here are some subjects I would consider adding:

Websites and coding. I can putter around WordPress, but that’s the extent of my website creation/maintenance abilities. In my defense, the Internet of my college days was sparse, and it took the wailing mating cry of a modem and about five minutes just to see one page. None of us would’ve thought that a website would be an integral part of being an author. We didn’t have a clue just how pervasive the Internet would become

Graphic Design. I studied a smidgen of design in grad school, but it wasn’t anywhere near what I really

Hey! There might be hope for English majors after all!

need. If you, like me, are challenged in the ways of graphics, www.canva.com is a handy site. Even so, if it requires anything in the Adobe family, I have to call in experts just to help me create a font image. (That reminds me that I owe Noelle a cup of coffee.

Marketing. If you’re just entering college, maybe you should consider making a degree in marketing your Plan B. Goodness knows it would’ve been more useful than my Women’s Studies minor. Sometimes, you have work at a job you don’t really want to get to a job that you do, and Marketing falls under the heading of business which has more job openings than English. I suggest you find something you like and feel called to do (teaching was my Plan B) while you work hard to make your first dream possible.

Nonfiction and freelance articles. I’m blessed with a husband who’s making more than enough for the two of us, but there have been times when I really could’ve used an income supplement from, say, magazine articles. I’ve tried to figure out where to go and what to write, but I usually end up flailing around on the Internet finding nothing. I will say that the Romance Writers Report is a great place for romance writers to get their feet wet, and I have tremendously enjoyed my experiences with them. I’m afraid, however, that my true talent is writing things for other people for free.

hans and franzNutrition and weight training. Oh, who am I kidding? I already know what I should do. I’m just not doing it. Ditto for the exercise. Eh, keep on keepin’ on. Whether you’re writing or exercising, the one way you know you’ll never reach your goals is if you stop.

My sweet cherub seniors and optimistic second career folk, I say all of this not because an English major* isn’t useful. Au Contraire. I’m not sure the world understands just how useful an English major can be. We’re fast learners and good students of life, so I’ve managed to learn a little bit about each of those subjects above. That said, if you’re starting out, then think ahead. I’m all about following your dreams, but I’m also a big fan of eating and having a roof over your head.

**cues Pomp and Circumstance**

Whether you’re fresh from high school/college or looking to jump back in, go get ‘em!

Just make sure you have a Plan B.

 

*BTW you don’t have to be an English major to be a writer. We are heavily represented because, hey, love of language, but some of the best writers you know majored in something else. It’s never too late to become a writer, and there’s no instruction manual, either.

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Congratulations!! You Got a Book Deal…What Now?

With the Golden Heart® announcements taking place last week, it got me thinking of my own “class” of finalists in 2014. The Golden Heart® can be a huge stepping stone to publication. A majority of my class has gone on to ink publishing deals or get agents or self-publish or are *so* close it’s not even funny… I’m amazed by them every day. I’m sure the 2016 class (including our own BadGirl Sydney Carroll—woo-woo!) will be no different.

Yay, you got a deal! Celebrate and high-five and announce it over social media…but your job is nowhere near done. What actually happens after you accept an offer? Some of it depends on the house/editor and what kind of deal, but this skeleton of what happens is similar from house to house.

**A word on contracts…Don’t be surprised at how slooooow things move. If you have an agent, then negotiating the contracts can take months. I was through most of my edits before I signed the contracts on my Falcon Football series with St. Martin’s Press. As a new author, this made me nervous, as I worried things could fall apart at any moment. The reality is that accepting the offer is a virtual handshake. The contracts are red tape that your agent has to deal with. As a new author, trust in your agent, put your head down, and concentrate on releasing the best debut book ever.

The first thing you’ll get from your editor is your First Pass Edit notes. This can range from an email with bullet points to a Word document of several pages. It can also be very stress inducing. An author who enjoys receiving those initial edits is like a unicorn—I’ve never met one. Just remember that your editor offered on your book because they loved it and convinced an acquisitions board of its merit. Take a deep breath and tackle the issues. You’ll come out the other side with a better book. Once you receive edits, you’ll have ~1-4 weeks to complete.

Once you turn in your first pass edits, don’t twiddle your thumbs. If you signed a multi-book deal, get writing on the second book. Not only will you be chasing your contract deadline, but most likely, your editor will ask you for the first chapter or two fairly soon (before it goes to copy-edits) in order to include as a teaser in the back of the first book. If you didn’t sign a multi-book deal, start on your next project! You always want something in the pipeline!!

**Insert fun stuff** Typically somewhere in the editing process, you’ll get a peek at your cover! Hopefully, you’ll fall in love and plaster it everywhere. (I made a phone case out of KISS ME THAT WAYJ) Enjoy the high…now get back to work!

Depending on your editor’s schedule, (remember you are not her only author) you’ll receive Second Pass Edits. These are usually much lighter than first pass, and usually consists of detailed line edits rather than the big-picture edits. I’ve also had manuscripts that have skipped this step altogether and gone straight to copy-edits. In my experience, it’s depended on how light or heavy first pass edits were. You’ll have ~1 week to complete.

Once your editor accepts the second pass edits, the manuscript will be sent to a copy-editor. Their job is to get nit-picky about commas, hyphens, and awkward wording. They’ll also check for consistency of your time-line, character descriptions, and naming conventions. I’ve always received digital copy-edits, while some houses still send a printed out manuscript with markings. This can take several weeks. Remember, the copy-editing department services all the authors for your house. While you’re waiting on copy-edits to arrive, guess what? Get back to work!!

I *always* recommend reading through your manuscript one last time from start to finish after completing copyedits. At this point, you’ll be sick of reading it. Do it anyway. I promise you’ll catch a handful of mistakes. I’ve generally been given ~3 weeks for copy-edits, but I can usually complete these in a few days.

After you turn in the copy-edits, a few things can happen. For one set of digital books, copy-edits was my last review. For another set of digital books, I did a last review of a “book” formatted PDF version. For my print books, I get galley copies. This is a print formatted paper copy. I make any changes with a pen and scan the pages with changes back to my editor. The final step in all the processes is for a publishing house proof-reader to give the book one last read, catching any (hopefully) very small mistakes. Galleys take me ~3 days for a very slow, through read.

At this point, it’s all in your publishing house’s hands and the next step is your release. It can happen anywhere from four to eight months after you last touched your manuscript. In this time, expect to field constant questions from family and friends…when the heck is your book coming out anyway?

Guess what you should be doing with your time? WRITING! If you have other books due, it’s absolutely necessary to keep writing. Be professional; don’t miss your deadlines. If you aren’t under contract, you want other books published, right? They must be written to be published.

Harkening back to one of my previous posts on Debut Anxiety, the continued writing will also keep you (relatively) sane approaching your release. I’ve made no bones about the fact, I do not enjoy the pocket of time right before/after my books release. So, I’m like Dorie…I try to forget about the release and just keep writing…just keep writing…and (hopefully) repeat all the above over and over and over.

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – or How I Learned To Embrace The Beat Sheet

Hi. My name is Jeanette. And for the first three years of my writing career, I was a die-hard pantser.

So what the hell am I doing writing a blog post about embracing beat sheets?

Back at the beginning of my writer life, I found a lot of the joy of writing came from discovering my characters and my story along the way. I’d begin a book with the barest of sketches for my characters, some vague sense of how the story would begin and where it would all fall apart, and that was pretty much it. When I was writing short and novellas, it worked really well for me.

And then I decided to get serious and try writing full length novels.

It…did not go well. Two of my three first books that crossed the 70k mark have never seen the light of day, and those are just the ones I actually managed to finish. In 2012, I had a whole series of disasters where I wrote the first 25k words or so of a manuscript and then abandoned it. There just wasn’t enough there to drive the story – nowhere to go after the first kiss or—let’s be honest—the first fuck. My stories needed more structure. More conflict. Just more to keep them going past that opening act.

So in 2013, attending my first RWA National conference, I made a point of going to every plotting workshop on the schedule. Plotting intimidated me on a basic level. I loved the improvisation of pantsing. I loved the freedom. Would getting everything figured out ahead of time kill the magic?

In the end, what probably most effectively changed my process was a workshop on Save The Cat.

For those who aren’t familiar, Save The Cat is one of many beat sheets, or lists of major plot points that tend to happen in most successful stories. It has its origin in screenwriting, and as the presenter made clear, you can see its structure in a huge range of different popular movies, from Harry Potter to Legally Blonde to Midnight In Paris. How could this singular structure lead to such a wide variety of films?

Because it doesn’t dictate the story itself. It just keeps it moving along. It helps give the story resonance.

It helps make sure you have that more to drive a story along to its satisfying conclusion.

The first novel I plotted using a beat sheet from the get go was the one I eventually sold on. Did it kill the magic? Not at all.

Now, to be clear, I was not slavish in following every single note of the beat sheet. I approached the setup of the novel much the way I always had in the past. But before I set any words to paper, I looked ahead and used the beat sheet as an informal checklist to make sure I had turning points in mind. To ensure there was enough conflict driving the plot to get us to those turning points. To look ahead at the story’s end to make sure it would satisfy the questions set out on page one.

To my surprise and delight, this sort of flexible story structure still left me with plenty room for discovery and improvisation. I still learn things about the characters on page two hundred that I could never have foreseen before page one. But I fit the things I learn along the way into a well-rounded story that has enough there there to see it through to the end.

If you’ve never tried plotting with a beat sheet, I’d consider looking into it. See if it fits into your process. I never would have expected it to be a good fit for mine, but it’s now a tried and tested tool, helping me continue to write fresh stories.

And to feel confident I’ll actually finish them.

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Pre-published? What’s your path?

beach pool signpostOver the past couple of months I’ve been slowly wading into the querying process for Smiling Underwater, the first book in my series about women who perform as mermaids at a tourist trap in 1950’s Florida. I’ve sent out about a dozen queries so far, and I’ve had several full requests. Out of those, two Nice Rejections, in which the agents said extremely complimentary things, although no dice. Still waiting to hear on the other full from this batch, as well as a larger handful of partials out there in the void. Meanwhile, I wait.

So what do I do while I’m waiting? Get my next batch of queries ready for submission, first of all. Continue drafting Book Two. And then/simultaneously, question my entire existence as a writer! Maybe that’s too strong, but there is definitely something about sending one’s work out into the world that brings out the hardcore doubts. What if my subject is too niche? What if there’s too much romance for women’s fiction or too much women’s fiction for romance? What if the time period makes it unmarketable? What if, what if, what if……(insert downward spiral here). So with that going on along with the pressures of upholding my title of Last Unpublished Bad Girl Blogger, I realized I needed a plan… or several plans.

Plan A is to carry on as if I have no doubts. I’m this close, and The Call could be right around the corner. Priority One is to sign with an agent, as my ultimate goal is to be traditionally published, ideally in trade paperback. Hard cover would be nice, but I’m not getting ahead of myself! During this time, I’m writing the other books in my series.

Now, for a brief interruption by our sponsor, Writer Doubt…. But what if I can’t sell this book? Won’t my whole time writing Books Two and Three be a waste if I can’t sell the first one? Glad you asked! That brings me to Plan B.

Plan B applies only if the work is good enough. If I continue to get complimentary rejections, contest finals, and excellent feedback from beta readers, I veer onto the other path. My story is niche. I get it. But I’m not the only one into that niche. I believe I could be successful self-publishing or releasing through a small press with the right research and effort. So that’s settled, then.

The one trouble with this is the open-endedness of the query process. When do I know it’s time to take the other path? How long? How many agents should I query? All of them? It might take a year to hear back. And if I batch out my queries over time, that’s…. yikes. I want my work out there. Some of this might stem from being the last unpublished Bad Girl on the blog, but most is that I’m ready, despite the doubts. That means I need, not a new plan, but an amendment.

Plan A (i): Carry on parent Plan A, as I write the other books in the series. If I haven’t sold by the time I’ve finished Book Three, I implement Plan B. And I’ll have three books!

And as Plan B unfolds, I begin Plan B (i): write the contemporary that’s in my brain-queue, and when it’s ready for submission, resume Plan A.

So that’s my planned path. I’m sure things will change, because they always do, but at least I know where I’m going, and that’s gone a long way to ease the doubt. Fellow unpublished writers: do you have a path mapped out? And published peeps, what did you do? Drop me a comment–I’d love to hear about it!

Happy writing,

 

 

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Rushed or Ready!

I’ve spent the last few months working on a new project, and the adventure has been quite interesting. I’m writing a screenplay. Or should I say I’m trying to write a screenplay. There is this awesome screenplay contest for female writers over the age of forty, and the deadline for entries is early April. So when I started this endeavor, I based my completion date to be around that time frame.

My goal was to have it written, reworked and reviewed by my critique partners by the end of March.

I didn’t sit down blind, mind you. I’ve taken a few screenwriting courses over the last couple of years, read several craft books and purchased a great software program to help make the adjustment from writing novels to the visual medium of movies.

It’s not like I haven’t written a few books. How hard could this transition be? Piece of cake—right? Ummm….no! Wrong! In no way am I saying that writing a screenplay is harder than writing a novel. I’m just saying it’s different. Very different.

The FORMATTING alone that comes along with screenwriting has sent me crying in my wine glass a few times. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with how it works, but you are stopping constantly to change scene location, action and label dialogue.

Example:

INT. LORI’S OFFICE – AFTERNOON

Lori grabs her laptop and car keys and heads out the door.

EXT. PARKING LOT – AFTERNOON CONTINUED.

Lori hurries to her red mustang parked close to the building in a spot marked reserved. A hot guy leans against a truck in the next space over.

                                                                HOT GUY

                                                Nice car!

                                                                LORI

                                                Thanks . . .

Later if she actually gets in the car, you’re stopping AGAIN for INT., etc., etc. The constant interruption in the flow of the writing has taken me a while to get used to. Then there’s the fact that you only have 120 pages to tell your entire story. And in movies, the industry professionals like to see a lot of white space on those 120 pages.

When I’m writing novels, I have more time to describe my characters, actions and settings. I can get into their thoughts with deep POV. With screenplays you’re limited to only what you can see and hear.

Trust me, I’m not complaining. I love this new adventure I’ve embarked on. LOVE IT! Even so, with the adjustment being a little more complicated then I’d anticipated, I’ve had to face the harsh reality that  there is no way I will make the contest deadline. Sure, I could rush the process and send something in, but if I want this to be the best screenplay that I’m capable of writing, I’ll need to admit defeat. At least with this one contest.

Which leads me back to RUSHED or READY?

Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? Maybe you’re under deadline and you find your work feels more rushed than ready. Unfortunately with the demands publishers are putting on their authors these days, the challenges are becoming more and more common.

However, if you’re not under deadline, please don’t be in such a hurry to enter a contest or send in a submission that’s not ready. Make sure you’re submitting the best work possible. You want your story to impress and stand out from the others. This is not an excuse to slack off on writing. Writers must write, just don’t rush it.

I know I’m missing my goal deadline but on the bright side, I plan to enter some other contest this year once my screenplay is complete. I’ve recently started reading another craft book for more advice on this new and strange way of writing, Michael Hauge’s, Writing Screenplays That Sell.2016-03-17 07.49.38

This way when I do submit I will feel confident in the fact that I’m READY!

How about you? Does your project have you feeling rushed or ready? I’d love to talk about it!

Remember to Dream Big!

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Brand Me! :)

It’s time for an author branding discussion! Are you as excited as I am? Listen closely, Bad Girlz of the World because this topic originated in an unlikely place—with me actually listening to my husband. *grins*

Why Book Cover

If you’ve ever met Mr. Alpha Male in person, you know he’s a talker. Actually, he could talk a talker under the table. So it’s fortunate that I was paying attention when he was going on and on about a book he and his coworkers had read, Start with Why by Simon Sinek. They’d read the same book in preparation for meeting with the author and writing their company mission statement. Why? Because this book is all about why. I recommend it—very informative and not just about corporate business strategy.  It can also give us guidance in building our brands as authors.
Why do we do what we do?
How does that translate into our branding?

The concept behind starting with why is that customers, or in this case readers, want to identify with us in some way. At first I said, well duh. We try to write characters that are identifiable already. We know this, but starting with why is deeper than that. It’s about your personal identity connecting with your reader’s personal identity and how they see themselves. Step one: ask yourself what brands you’re loyal to no matter what.

Here’s how the conversation went for me:

Mr. Alpha: What’s your favorite clothing brand?

Me: Guess.

Mr. Alpha: Why?

Me: Their clothes are well-made. Their jeans fit nicely and they have cute dresses.

Mr. Alpha: Those aren’t the only jeans and cute dresses in the world. Why them?

Me: *pauses for deep introspective thought* …Honestly? They have the Guess Girl as the center piece of their ad campaign, and the model they pick always looks like a modern day Marilyn Monroe. Their look is the perfect mix of classic and modern sass.

Mr. Alpha: And that’s the identity you want to show to the world—a mix of classic and modern sass.

Me: With big sunglasses, bright lipstick, and blonde hair…yeah, I guess so.

oh my tiara

…Did this concept just click for you the way it did for me? We don’t like the brands we like because of the product. We like them because they reflect something about who we are. People want to express themselves through brands. If you let them know who you are and what you represent, they’ll have brand loyalty with you. Now I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing: that’s fine for a car company or a clothing line, but I write books. There are many, many others who would have the same “why” that I do. How does that help me?

This is the part of the story where I had to percolate for a few weeks on the subject. Why do I write the stories I write? Because I love to tell stories. Because I like watching people fall in love. Because those are the books I like to read. Because… This had been at the back of my mind for a while until 2 days ago. I was driving back from a weekend getaway with Mr. Alpha Male and passing the 4 hour road trip by telling him about my current manuscript.

Me: Plot, plot, blah, blah, blah, plot, plot…I’m so excited!!! I think this is my favorite book I’ve ever written! *giant smiles and seal claps in the passenger seat of the car* I can’t wait for this one to come out!

Mr. Alpha: *laughs* You just want to meet everyone in the world, and make them all smile.

Me: You make me sound like a Coke commercial. [cue light bulbs turning on above E. Michels’ head]…OMG! Is that why I like Coke? I even have Coca-Cola bar stools in my back yard for goodness’ sakes. Apparently, I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony!

And just like that, I knew why I write these stories that have happily-ever-afters, why I’ve chosen a path in publishing that would lead to more foreign distribution than other avenues. I want to meet everyone in the world, give them a big ol’ hug, and make them smile. Through my books, I get to do just that, which makes me smile and the cycle begins again.

So, on the deepest level possible, why do you write?

Now for the fun part: How the knowledge of why you write leads to your author branding.

All you have to do is incorporate why you do what you do into your social media and into your website design. Show everyone who you are at your core at every opportunity you have, and they’ll want to connect with you even more. As for me, I’m going to remove the boring photo gallery from my website and start the “smile file” where I’ll post fun pictures of meeting readers at book signings. I’m going to post on social media about things that make me smile. And I’m going to in general, keep on smiling, like I do anyway. I can’t wait!

What brands are you loyal to? What does that say about your personal identity? Any clue why it is you write what you do? Let’s chat! 🙂

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