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May 2014

Pink 42 Hut-Hut

Only two days remaining—Then it’s time to get our Blitz on. As you know, all the Bad Girlz have pledged to blitz this summer. My Team! (Smiles proudly) We’re doing our best to recruit other Bad Girlz of the world to join us.  Do you have a blitz goal? Maybe your goal is something completely different from writing. Perhaps you’re blitzing to get organized or to start an exercise program. Whatever is it, get on board and let’s get this thing done. Every successful football team has a great playbook. A plan. Here’s mine.

My first goal is to complete my Work-In-Progress, approximately 30,000 words, without looking back. That’s right. No editing for me in the first quarter. I’m going to throw as many words on the page as I can. Trust me, it will be ugly, but I need to get the story out of my head and on the turf.

I’ll spend the second quarter tackling plot, conflict and motivation problems. Could you hear my sigh? We all know by the time I reach the end of this quarter, I’ll be so sick of looking at this story, I’ll need  to collapse on the side lines with an oxygen mask. However, don’t count me out of the game just yet.

Sick of football slang yet? Hope not, there’s more.

Lots more! Halftime—Bring on the cheerleaders. I’ll meet a fellow Bad Girl (or two or three) for coffee. I’ll whine. I’ll complain. I’ll grunt so much I’ll sound like a QB down by three touchdowns during Super Bowl. Then my writer buddy will act as coach and give me a pep talk. She’ll say things like, “Stay in the game, you can do this.” Then I’ll be ready to tackle the second half.

Third quarter—Edit. Edit. Edit. I’ll get my story polished and ready to pass the pages to my critique partners (CPs). Once I toss the ball to them, there will be no sitting on the bench for this Bad Girl. That’s when I’ll get my query letter and synopsis in tip-top shape. Fourth quarter—Make suggested edits from CPs. And SUBMIT. Yay! Touchdown.

For me, this blitz couldn’t’ have come at a better time. Everyone needs a little push now and then. I know I do. So come on, put on your jersey and join us.

Remember, if you do join our blitz, and find yourself losing motivation and need a little rump slap to get you going again, we’re not only your teammates, we’re your cheerleaders and coaches too.

NOW I promise not to torture you with any more football slang for the rest of the season. 🙂 Let’s kick the summer’s butt together.   Do you have your game plan? I’d love to hear about it.  #BGBlitz!

Remember to Dream Big!

Lori

10 Comments

I’m All In! #BGBlitz

“Don’t let anyone walk through your mind with dirty feet.” – Dabo Sweeney – Head Football Coach at Clemson University

Bad Girlz, here it is. I’ve been in a writer funk. I’m not even sure what triggered this funk, maybe it was the exhaustion of releasing books so close together, the anxiety of waiting to hear about a submission, or the endless holding of my breath while reviews come out for my next release. Whatever the cause, I’ve been sitting in still waters waiting for a whisper of a breeze so that I can move forward for over a week.

On Friday my mother-in-law finally took pity on me. “You need some time to write.” Quiet time, was that the answer? Did I just need uninterrupted time to write? Mr. Alpha Male had plans to go hike for 3 days with the local Boy Scout Troup he helps occasionally, so thanks to my mother-in-law’s offer of assistance with the Little Monkey, I had the weekend to myself. But, instead of doing what I would normally do and forcing myself to at least try to write words during the precious hours of quiet, I put my laptop down and I walked away. I needed a break. I cleaned my house. I curled up on the sofa and watched a Hallmark movie marathon. I went for a walk. I read a book. I watched Oprah interview successful people. And, at the end of it, this is what I learned:

The problem with my manuscript was a problem with my motivation, not my character’s motivation.

With the excitement of publication, I’d lost sight of why I write. And now, after a weekend of made-for-TV movies and Oprah interviews, I remember why.

I write because I love stories. I write because I love the characters. I don’t write for the glory of the blog tour or the thrill of signing copies for readers. I don’t write to sell more books. I don’t write for the reviews. I write because I love to write. I want to meet readers and sign books. I want to have more books on the shelves. I want to get good reviews. Those are all positive ambitions. But, that is not why I write.

The advice I’m known to give my critique partners at every hiccup on the path to writing a book is, “Just tell the story.” And, it seems I needed to listen to my own advice. I have a story that is begging to be told and I’ve been ignoring it to wallow in the quicksand that is the phrase, “what if.”

Well, no more, Bad Girlz! I’m blitzing with you!

woman-helmet

I hope you’ll join me as we drive downfield toward our goals. My goal is to finish this book by the end of August. I’ll be posting updates to Twitter and I hope you will too.

My favorite quote from my excessive television watching this weekend:

“People will judge it. And, people will like it or not like it. But, you can’t be responsible for that. You’re not meant to do what is easy. You’re meant to challenge yourself…continue to do the thing you maybe cannot do.” –Justin Timberlake

Are you ready to just tell the story? What’s your #BGBlitz goal?

~ E. Michels

15 Comments

Getting My Game Face On!

woman-helmetI’m so excited to be gearing up for the Badgirlz Summer Blitz! My challenge is going to be to expand a novella I’ve recently written and get it ready for submission by August 1st. I’m enthusiastic! I have a plan! Bring it on! But in the middle of night last night, I came to a realization: this summer, my writing isn’t the only thing that needs a blitz. I’ve got a lot of things I want to kill with awesomeness this summer, and none of them are going to happen on their own! Of course, abject failure at potty training the Sunshine Boy doesn’t count. That’s coming along just fine, thank you very much.

 

The sleepless night that followed my realization led me to an unfamiliar conclusion: I have got to get organized. Seriously. If I want to kick ass in the Blitz AND de-clutter, de-stress, be an awesome mama, eat more veggies, get more sleep, and all the other great summer possibilities, I need a plan.

 

So, I bought a planner. A big one, with daily, weekly, and monthly pages, plus a whole bunch of room for notes and a lot of corporate-slash-new-age goals pages, too. I’m going to use this to plot my manuscript changes and plan my writing time, and keep track of the rest of my life, too. I’m going to write down my next day’s to-do list so I can get it out of my mind and get some damn sleep. Plan healthy meals. All that stuff–and it’s all going to be in one place.

 

For some people, angst and stress can fuel their craft, but I’m the opposite. For the most part, I write happy, so it’s hard for me to get in a creative frame of mind when I’m feeling jumbled up–and I’m not the most organized person in the world, so you can imagine where that leaves my writing at the end of a hectic day. Already, knowing that I have a system in place is helping the plotting wheels turn more smoothly.

 

When the official kickoff begins, I’ll be checking in with my progress and details of what I’m working on. In the meantime, I’d like to know your tips and tricks to help get you focused and stay organized in your writing and other endeavors.

 

As always, Happy writing!

7 Comments

Sex and Violence

The other day, I was sitting around, thinking about Captain America: The Winter Soldier (you know, like you do). Specifically, I was thinking about the opening fight scene, and how smart it was.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-scarlett-johansson-chris-evansFor those of you who haven’t seen the movie (what are you doing? Stop reading this! Go! Go see it now!), the scene involves Captain America, the Black Widow, and a legion of strike commandoes rescuing a ship from modern-day pirates who are holding it and its crew hostage, awaiting a hefty ransom. Before our heroes’ plane has even reached the drop zone, Captain America is jumping out of it without a parachute. He hits the water, climbs onto the ship, and proceeds to knock at least a dozen people on their asses by way of smacking them in the head with his shield, tossing them overboard, or a combination of the two.

Note. He hits them. He punches them. He knocks them into the water. Brutally efficient. And entirely non-lethal.

We cut to the Black Widow, who takes a slightly different approach. She goes in guns blazing and shoots, garrotes, or electrocutes everyone in her path without a moment’s pause.

There’s more that happens in the scene, but let me stop right there before I give  the whole game away. Ostensibly, this is an action movie. People are in that theatre because they want to see some good, bone-crunching violence.

But what the film’s writers, directors and actors handed us was more than just a bunch of people beating each other up. They gave us character development, and they gave it to us with a nice, easy-to-swallow action movie coating of panache. We’re ten minutes into the movie and we know that Cap will get the job done, but he’ll do it with the smaller possible number of casualties, whereas Widow will shoot first and ask questions later. If ever.

Simply put, they showed it to us instead of telling it to us, and the vehicle they used to show it to us with was violence.

Look closely and you’ll see: every action sequence of the movie fills some other purpose beyond satisfying the audience’s bloodlust. One establishes character. Another raises the stakes and reveals information about the enemy. Yet another is the backdrop of the biggest reveal of the movie, and the final fight scene? I won’t give too much away, but it packed a punch, and not just a literal one. It got me in the heart. It made me feel.

And that’s why the movie is so damn good.

As a romance writer, the guilty pleasure through which I ply my trade isn’t violence (though I occasionally manage to find an opportunity to work some of that into my books, too). It’s sex.

People expect sex in a typical romance novel. They enjoy it. Who wouldn’t? It’s quite conceivably the reason they bought the book in the first place.

But here’s the thing. To make your book memorable. To make it sizzle. To make it resonate. You have to use the sex scenes you write for way more than titillation.

They have to establish character. Or reveal something about the plot. Or raise the stakes for your hero or your heroine.  They’ve gotta punch your reader right in the feels.

rightinthefeels

Otherwise, they’re boring and gratuitous. Just like an action movie that drags on and on, with pointless fight scene after pointless fight scene. It might be pleasant. But it won’t stick with you, or inspire you to write long, rambling blog posts in which you recommend the movie to your readers and friends. 🙂

Because in the end, sex and violence might sound like all you need to make a story great. But in reality, they’re just the tools you use to tell your story with. The way you use them is what makes your story great.

8 Comments

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (Part II)

(Link to Part I)

Part II (aka. More on figuring out my genre path and what the heck I want to be when I grow up…)

During my wandering summer/early fall, I realized two things:

1) I love a good a supernatural/superhero/fantasy/sci-fi whatever. I mean I LUUUUURVE it and I always will.

2) Just because I love a genre, doesn’t mean I have to write it.

Once I released that into the universe, and looked at my writing with objective eyes, I figured out why my manuscripts weren’t working: The external elements.

The paranormal part of my paranormal romance didn’t reach my high geek girl expectations, nor did it showcase my voice and strengths successfully. If anything, it highlighted my weaknesses and made me doubt everything about my writing.

The emotional arcs and romance of my characters worked. Those elements brought me joy, but the external simply didn’t feel “right.” Imagine taking a purist historical romance author and telling her or him, “Write me a dark and gritty, modern day suspense.” Maybe they could do it and it’d be phenomenal. More likely, they’d struggle and it’d make them question if they should be writing at all.

So I said to myself: Self, you love the emotional connections and sexual chemistry between characters, the humor and adventure of every day life; your voice is naturally modern and fun with a thread of heartwarming self-discovery and lots of hot smexitimez. You already co-author erotic romance in a contemporary setting and love every moment of writing every manuscript. Why the hell are you not writing contemporary romance?

I had no answer for myself other than…

ariel facepalm

I could not believe it’d taken this long for the coin to drop. But, rather than berate myself for the time it took to figure all this out, I got started on my new book with NaNoWriMo. And…I wrote a contemporary! 😀

I took some of the personality traits from the characters I loved in those old, not working WIPs and began again. (Because I am not giving up Sawyer, ever never ever! *smooshes character*) Every step of writing this contemporary felt right. I felt good about what I was doing. I could delve into the character’s emotions more, amp up the UST and the simple, small moments that mean so much in real life. I had the confidence to go with my voice and not fight it. I wasn’t riddled with doubt over the external elements that weren’t working for me. I’d found it! I finally found my writer home!!!hi five

What can other writers learn from this? Plenty I hope! Please learn from my mistakes because I work long and hard making lots of them every year.

1) Don’t rush into anything if you aren’t sure. What’s the big damn hurry when you’ve only begun the journey? If you’re certain, by all means go for it. Otherwise, write, read, explore, figure out not only your voice, but what genre you can rock with that voice. 

2) Sometimes, if a manuscript is causing you grief, all you need is to talk it through with a writer pal and get back on track. Other times, if that story feels superdonk wrong – it could be plain ole WRONG. Wrong for you or just wrong for you right now.

I won’t say that I’ll never write paranormal, just as I won’t say I’d never write YA. Maybe I will, because I adore both genres. Right now though? It’s not going to happen. I’ve found where I’m supposed to be and what I want to write.

What about you? Did you know your genre right out of the gates? Did it work out for you? Or were you like me, with a few twist and turns along the way? Is there a genre you love with all your reader heart, but it doesn’t line up with your writer brain? Speak to me of your journeys and trials. I’ll pour the mimosas.

8 Comments

Oh, it’s On! It’s On Like Donkey Kong!

I don’t know about you, but the school year is a busy time for me.  The added tasks of being an elementary school parent nowadays can cause quite a lot of stress in my household.  In addition to my day job as an engineer, evening job as a gymnastics mom, and whenever I can find time job as a writer, the school year makes me a Homework Helper/School Lunch Fixer/Reading Listener/Assignment Tracker.

And I have a feeling I’m not alone in this.  Am I?

So, what do you say we make this summer count?  I mean, big time.  What if we pick that one goal that we seem to keep putting off and make it the focus of that freed up time?  Think we could do it?

Introducing…

The Bad Girlz Summer Blitz

For those of you that aren’t into football, a blitz is defensive strategy in which extra players are sent in to rush the quarterback at the same time.  Basically, the defense throws everything they can spare to try to sac the quarterback or disrupt his pass.  That’s what we’re going to do.

Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to define your quarterback.  What task do you want to tackle?  What goal can you never seem to put to rest?  It can be anything.  Maybe you just need to get a manuscript pumped out.  Maybe you want to get a new book plotted, or perhaps develop a new method for plotting.  Maybe you’ve just finished editing your manuscript and your goal is to write and send out 100 queries.  Maybe you really need to establish or increase your online presence.  Maybe you just need to clean out a room in your basement to have some place to write undistracted.  We really don’t care what the goal is, as long as you need to get it done.

After you’ve got your eyes set on the target, develop a game plan.  Does it have phases?  Deadlines?  What is your plan of attack to make sure it gets done?  Then MEMORIZE it.  I mean, write it down, put a sticky note on your mirror, pin in on your dashboard, whatever it takes.  Live, eat, and breathe your target in much the same way that a defensive end carries around their playbook wherever they go.  Keep it in your face so you can’t ignore it.  No excuses.

 

VarsityBlues

 

Then starting June 1st, it’s GAME ON.

Stifler

Over the next couple weeks, some of the bad girlz will be sharing their goals and game plans.  We will also keep you up to date on how we’re doing through June, July, up until the very end of August when it’s GAME OVER.  We hope you’ll share your game as well and let us be your cheerleaders (we promise not to drag you around by the helmet)!  Comment on the blogs, post to our facebook page, and follow/tweet the hashtag #BGBlitz.

Let’s do this!  Let’s make this summer count!

Jenna P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Comments

Spring Clean Your Writing

It’s that time of the year again–spring! This time of year comes with a natural desire to make things better—prettier.

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed things around my house have become a little unorganized and messy.  I’m not sure how things got so untidy. I tried to stay on top of cleaning, but nevertheless, “winter happened,” and my closets and cabinets became unmanageable. My house and its winter clutter began to drive me nuts.

Mother Nature wasn’t helping at all, screaming “look at me.” I’m turning brown grass, vibrant green. I’m growing bulbs into beautiful flowers. Bare gray trees are filling in with luscious, swaying leaves. “I’m making the world beautiful. What are you doing?”

Show off!

I decided to take the Mother Nature challenge and make things better—prettier. I started organizing—the laundry room, the garage, the closets. This domino cleaning possessed my body.

Then one day, it was as if someone hit me upside the head with a dust-buster.  It wasn’t the messy closets that bothered me? (Well, maybe a little.) The problem was my writing? My words had also become disorganized and messy.  Let me explain.

I’m in the middle of a total rewrite, taking a screenplay class, writing a movie. I’m plotting a new book and studying the medieval period for a future project—all at the same time. And just like my home, each project was suffering from winter clutter.

So what do I do?  If only I could spend an afternoon on each thing, and miraculously, the writing would be organized and clean, like a closet or a garage.

I could choose to only work on one project at a time, but who wants to do that? Instead, I’m going to spring clean my brain. I’ll get outside and soak up some vitamin D, get some fresh air and hopefully, clear the spider webs from my imagination. Shoot, I’ll even take some time to enjoy and admire Ms. Show-off’s (a.k.a. Mother Nature’s) beautiful work. 🙂

Then I’m going to get busy.

I’ll give a 100% to the project I happen to be working on at the time.  Write clean when I’m writing new material. Tidy up what I’ve already written, then move on to the next thing.

If you’ve found your writing has also become messy, take a deep breath. Take a walk. Go on a picnic. Get rid of that annoying winter clutter, and replace it with organized, clean writing.  There is something wonderful that comes with the beauty of spring— Hope!

Remember to dream big!

Lori

16 Comments

Clicking Send

Is there anything more terrifying in the world than clicking send on a submission email? For a writer, probably not. Sure, pits of snakes and being buried alive are mildly terrifying in that abstract how often do you even see a pit of snakes sort of way, but clicking send happens every day, people. Every. Day. And, it never gets easier.

Whether it’s a query letter to an agent, round 2 of revisions to your editor or a proposal for more books, it’s always scary to send your work out into the world. So, what’s a bad girl to do?

perf cosmo

Yeah, that always takes the edge off of the send anxiety. But, the best thing we can do is have a strong submission along with that strong drink. Be prepared to click send by having your critique partners pick your submission apart. It’s better to have a friend find that embarrassing typo than an industry professional. Once that’s done, and you’re pouring that drink before sending, take comfort in the fact that you’ve done all you can do. Your submission is as shiny as you have the ability to make it. It’s time for your little book baby to fly away from the comfortable nest of your computer. Fly free, little book baby. Fly free.

Flying Books

It seems like send-o-phobia, (Yeah, I totally just made that up. And, now I’m really hoping it becomes a thing) is caused by one of three things.
Fear of success. What if that agent wants the full manuscript, and then I would have to send it?
Seriously, bad girlz? This is what you want. Send it!
Fear of failure. What if that editor laughs at me? What if that last book was the best I can write?
Bad girlz, in my opinion, no one book is going to make your career as an author. You know what will help you have a great career? Writing more books. Send it!
Fear of change. What will I write next if I send this?
Girl, you will write another book…and another…and another. But, you won’t do any of these things unless you do one very important thing first—send it!

At the end of the day, it’s all fear. Fear comes in many forms, but it’s the same no matter how you slice it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to let fear rule my life. Who knows what will happen? But, you’ll never know what might have happened unless you click send.

Why am I thinking about send-o-phobia? Today, I will be clicking send. I’ve polished my submission until the blinding shine of it is painful. (The sparkles! My eyes, my eyes!) Even knowing that, I’m nervous. It’s a frightening prospect—people reading what we write. But, that’s the goal, that’s what we want! We want readers and without sending our words off to fly free, they’ll remain locked away, unable to entertain readers on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I know I’m as ready as I can be and I will not be ruled by fear. What about you?

Do you have send-o-phobia? Let chat about it.
Aaaaaaaaaaaand click.

~E. Michels

12 Comments

Do You Season Your Stories?

 

MCL_steaming_stew_100445879_Blaine_Moats
I’ve just finished reading a novel that takes place in Maine, in the wintertime. Food played heavily in its themes, as did the descriptions of simmering soups and other cozy fare (recipes included). I enjoyed the book but found myself wishing I had picked it up at a different time of year—maybe in the fall, rather than at the end of the longest, coldest winter of my life. I’m ready for sun and sand, the sounds of surf and the scent of swimming pool chlorine, and I find myself craving that in my reading, too. Kind of hard to get excited over soup when you’re looking forward to that first margarita of the season, you know?

 

I think we all have a dominant season that we identify with more than the others, when we feel most like ourselves. Even if you’ve never thought about it until now, you probably know what type you are. Is the first blossoms and renewal of spring the thing that gets you going, or the crisp, clear air of
autumn and turning leaves? Do festive holidays and the stark beauty of a snow-covered landscape capture your imagination? Or do long, lazy days and the promise of fresh tomatoes and the beach call to you?

 

I do love the period of change of all the seasons and the spice it brings to my wardrobe, but I’m totally summer, no question. And I find that my reading and writing preferences tend to reflect that. I prefer being hot to cold. Due to my job, I get more writing done and feel more creative in the summer. My novels have boats and beaches in them. And booty, too, if I’m making this into a 3 Bs type gimmick. Maybe it’s a Florida thing, or maybe I’m just a beach read type of person. Either way, summer is my time, and I can’t wait!

 

So, tell me—does your writing or reading have seasonality? What season are you? What books do you recommend that perfectly gel with “your” season?

ormond beach

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