Double Life #teasertuesday

Other Side of Love is the story of Sarah and Benny from A Different Kind of Love series. I can’t seem to work on anything but their story so I’m going to run with it. The events in their story happens ten years before Everything She Ever Wanted.

Musings Over Coffee: Writing to Your Strengths

Years ago, I did the Personality Type test that said I was ENFP, a Campaigner. I posted the assessment results on my blog and then moved on, mainly because while it was cool to be someone who was “a true free spirit,” or “the life of the party,” I had no idea how it applied to my life as a writer.

“More than just sociable people-pleasers though, ENFPs, like all their Diplomat cousins, are shaped by their Intuitive (N) quality, allowing them to read between the lines with curiosity and energy. They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analysts, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, ENFPs see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”

-ENFP Personality, the Campaigner, 16 Personalities

Last month, I took a course by Becca Syme called Write Better Faster. It came highly recommended by authors I admired. It took me a while to get into it because I was still in the midst of tackling more projects than I could handle and feeling overwhelmed by them all. It also explains why I have four giveaways for February to celebrate the release of ONE novella.

It comes with the territory of being overwhelmed and not realizing I’d signed up for or set up so many promotions. All while trying to write three stories at the same time.

Anyway, back to Becca Syme’s course. Well, I finally had time to go through the lessons and one of the first things we had to do was take a personality test, the same test I took two years ago.

Guess what? Same result – ENFP.

But this time, Syme, who is also a life coach, explained the results in relation to being a writer or a creative. Her examples made sense as to why a very detailed story outline that I tell myself will take me two weeks to shape into a novel (as I pretend to be someone’s ghostwriter) often has me looking for more new projects instead… oh look! A squirrel!

It’s a vicious cycle but thanks to Syme’s Write Better Faster course, it’s a cycle I recognize doesn’t work for me and never did. The system that works for me is not an outline or an 8-image collage aesthetic. It’s a book cover, one that has my name on it already and the working title.

From that image, I go to town and write the story loosely following Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and my understanding of Michael Hauge’s “identity to essence” which you can find here. When I’m stuck, I talk out loud to myself. Sometimes I talk to my characters (in my head) and ask them where they’re going with the story so far. Sometimes I write out the scene according to their eyes even if that chapter won’t make it into the final book. It’s my process and it turns out, it falls under my strengths as an ENFP.

I have my eighth-grade English teacher to thank for this, by the way. One day, she handed us a shoebox filled with pictures and she told us to select one picture and for the next half-hour, write something based on the photograph. It blew my mind and to this day, it’s one of the only days I remember from that year other than the one where I almost got suspended for writing an NSFW play months later… but that’s a story for another day.

So anyway, for so long I thought it wasn’t just weird. I thought it was wrong because I didn’t know anyone successful who did it. I mean, the successful authors in my peer group had visual schedules and publishing schedules that went all the way to two years with multiple series and books already outlined and written within the two-month window they allotted and then published. I mean, their systems worked. They rocked and they killed it in terms of sales and ranking. Of course, I wanted to do exactly what they were doing (although some now have ghostwriters to keep up with the crazy schedule).

Did it work?

Well, no, not for me.

So now I know better and accept that my process isn’t weird or wrong. It’s simply what works for me and I’m finally okay with that (I may have said I was okay with it before but I never believed it).

At this point, it’s not about writing or editing faster for me. It’s about letting my personality type work for me and not against me. So if I need a book cover to inspire that next story, then that cover will inspire that story. If I need to talk to myself or to my characters instead of writing the details down, then I talk as much as I want. It’s just the way my wiring works and after two years of trial and error, I’m glad I finally realized that the way I used to write was because of my wiring, my personality.

If you would like to find out how to write better faster, check out Syme’s course. I think she’s got a new one coming up this month. If not, sign up for her newsletter so you can stay updated about the next one. That’s how I heard about it. I signed up after one course was closed and then got signed up to the next one and I have no regrets.

Syme also has a new book out called Writer, You Need to Quit (and no, it’s not what you think).

Here’s the description:

The marketplace is crowded. The industry is moving fast. Everyone has opinions about how you should work and how you should run your business. If you’ve found this book, there’s a good chance you’ve heard them all. So, what am I saying that’s any different?

I’m saying, there are some things we all need to quit doing. What are they? Take a look inside and see.

Of course, you could still click away, and go about your business. Up to you, Neo. Red pill or blue pill?

I’ve coached a lot of writers–from the Uber-successful to the brand-new–and this book is a collection of what I’ve learned from watching patterns. There are some things we all need to quit, and I can tell you why.

So that’s pretty much all the musing I’m doing this Sunday. My coffee’s long gone cold and I might need something to eat before the caffeine hits me on an empty stomach.

What about you? What’s your personality type?

A Valentine’s Day Steamy Shorts and A Giveaway!

I’m so behind on everything that I almost forgot to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day! As a romance author, I’d be remiss to miss this day, right?

I even treated myself to one of these cookies when I was buying a cupcake (with a similar cookie on top!) for LilDude’s homeroom teacher.

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Today is also the day that my Valentine’s Day novella Every Breath launches as part of Steamy Sensations Holiday Love, a project where ten authors get together to write ten steamy stories for ten holidays in 2019.

Ambitious, no? But I’m actually having a lot of fun and I’m thrilled to be in the company of these amazing authors!

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You can find all the stories here: Steamy Sensations Holiday Love

I’ve also got a few giveaways going on! Three of them can be found on my Facebook page while this one, which is a Valentine gift pack that includes a signed copy of Everything She Ever Wanted (or if you already have a copy, another one of my books), a Phenomenal Woman drink neoprene wrap, a notepad/pen set, a Papaya Arts coin purse AND a $15 Amazon Gift Card ends at midnight! And yes, that memo pad/pen set is upside down. I didn’t even notice it until right now...

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What about you? Any plans for Valentine’s Day?

Talking Out Loud: So… What’s Next?

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Now that my first story for 2019 is out, I honestly don’t know what’s next. I’m too busy procrastinating doing everything else but start a new book or finish the one I’ve been procrastinating about.

That’s not to say I’m not writing. I’m writing.

Kinda.

There’s The Replacement Fiancee that I just swore on Twitter that I’d set aside until way later because I lost my grip on the story and I had no idea who the heroine really is. She actually started out being a successful programmer who is so used to technology that when she finds herself face to face with a wood stove, she has no clue how to get the fire going.

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One of these things

I said “going,” not started. She can start it alright. She just can’t get it going warm and hot.

But somewhere along the way, I questioned everything about her, wondering if I’m being too ambitious about my heroine being SO accomplished, and so she became this clueless, hapless socialite who can’t light a stove to save her life (or figure out her life, for that matter).

But the programmer heroine is having none of the change and she wants back in and there, I think, lies my conundrum with the story. While the muse of the story (the programmer) has been trying to get back into the pages, I’ve been busy pushing her out and shaping her to be someone else, the abovementioned socialite. It’s the same struggle I go through now when I write my stories: do I write to market or write what I really want to write? Because let’s face it, writing the stories I want to write hasn’t helped my sales numbers lately.

But in the end, it’s all about Kondo-ing this part of my life. I need to keep the things that spark joy, as Marie Kondo says, even if I have to talk out loud on my blog to do it.

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Happy Book Birthday to Me!

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Yup! Every Breath is live early and that’s the first story done and dusted for 2019. Twelve more to go!

Celebrations have so far included home-brewed coffee and breakfast that’s yet to be decided on. Toast or oatmeal… or bagel with cream cheese? Nothing too fancy because I have to get back to work on the next story.

Right now, Every Breath is $0.99 for a limited time and it’s also free to read in Kindle Unlimited!

No Commitments #TeaserTuesday

Tall and tanned from collecting samples by the San Juan River, it was a shock to the system to see him again. He’d cut his arm when the truck his colleague drove rolled off the embankment and broken glass from the side window cut through his bicep. I cleaned it and under the harried doctor’s orders, stitched it up. All that time, we never showed any sign that we knew each other. He was too busy watching my every move while I kept reminding myself to remain calm, the words It’s only Benny running through my mind like some mantra as I gave him a tetanus shot.

But this time, I knew if he’d ask me out to dinner or suggest we play hopscotch under the covers, there was no way I’d say no. And when he did, I didn’t. It was as if all the foreplay had been done back in Albuquerque two years earlier and we were ready to take it further—but just far enough so we were still comfortable, still believing we didn’t need each other for more than just sex.

No commitments, okay? I’d told him while making dinner at his apartment that night because he ended up with a fever from the tetanus shot and I told myself he needed a bit of TLC. I don’t have time for complications.

No commitments, he’d agreed as he stood behind me and planted a kiss on my shoulder. Fine with me, Sarah.

So much for that. Twelve years later, here we are.

No commitments.

#teasertuesday

Bad Boy or Good Guy Love? #awritersfebruaryromance

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I’ve recently joined an Instagram challenge called #awritersfebruaryromance and what I like about it is that it’s geared toward authors. Most of the ones I’ve seen are usually for readers and so when I spotted this one two days late, I jumped right in.

Today, the challenge was Bad Boy or Good Guy Love? Based on what my Liz pen name writes, it’s all good guys with the exception of Gareth Roman (Loving Ashe/Loving Riley) who does some pretty bad things.

My naughty pen loves writing about rich bad guys and I’m about to dive into writing a Reverse Harem romance featuring some badass security guys. But most likely, I’ll probably end up giving them hearts of gold and have to stop myself from turning them into cinnamon roll heroes before I know it.

Did you know there’s even a term for that kind of hero? I sure didn’t but turns out, I write about them… a lot. There are five of them so far in one series alone!

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The Unthinkable

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Yesterday, the unthinkable happened.

The Lil Dude and I were on our way to see his new case manager and three blocks from the house, I looked at him from the rear view mirror and said, “oh no, Mommy forgot her phone!”

To which Lil Dude said, “oh no! We need to go back home and get it!”

But I said, “Ah, we’ll survive without it. So here’s the plan: we’ll go to the meeting, then to the store to buy you a new pair of shoes and then head straight home because we don’t have a phone.”

He agreed.

At the meeting, all my information was on my phone, of course, and I couldn’t even remember who I was meeting with. But we got that sorted out and I did have his IEP with me so that was sorted out, too. When she said something about an insurance denial letter not on file, I told her that yes, I did bring it in to the previous case manager but couldn’t tell her the date because that was on my phone. She asked if I brought a photograph of the Lil Dude and of course, there was no picture because that was on my phone, too.

One thing I also learned: Having a kid spinning around in an office chair at the periphery of your vision can still leave me feeling seasick until evening.

So then we had a late lunch because I just about passed out at the meeting from hunger (I totally need a visual schedule now, too) and while we’re eating, the Lil Dude enjoying his pancake with whipped cream topping and scrambled eggs and me with my Three Cheese Chicken Quesadilla, I realized that there was nothing to distract me from just being with the kid. No text notifications, no Messenger PMs… nothing. It was just him and me.

Then we headed to the store to shop for his shoes for school, which we did, and he also found a backpack “with bonuses!” he declared because what he picked out came with a lunch pail and a water bottle. Then it was home where I found all the notifications waiting for me on my phone.

None of them were important enough to take my attention from time spent with Lil Dude. And it made me realize just how much time is stolen by our addiction to our phones and social media. What is so important that we’d rather check our phone while we’re eating at the table or sitting next to them? But we do. I know I did, and yesterday, it hit me that there have been so many things I missed about my not-so-little-boy.

And for what?

To check on my day’s sales? To answer a PM? To check and see what latest gossip there is on the Chris Watts murder case? (Yes, unfortunately, I’m hooked on that case and have told myself to wait until November when he appears in court again instead of reading every conspiracy theory out there.)

Thing is, those things will still be there later. But those little moments—like my son licking the top of the pancake (where the whipped cream topping used to be) when he thought I wasn’t looking or how proud he felt for finding a “bargain” with his backpacks plus bonuses or how well-behaved he was while standing in the checkout line?

Like that commercial says, priceless.

On Writing and Outlines #amwriting

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I’ve written 31k words into that holiday novella and… I’ve hit a wall. It’s one of my own making, of course, one called the this-crap-could-be-better wall.

Technically, the book is “done,” as in, I got to the ending which, unfortunately, falls short of that moment in the cinema when you await (with bated breath) the hero’s answer to the question that will make him a slumdog millionaire or the group of eccentric friends driving their friend all across town to the press conference that will reunite him (in front of the world to see) with the celebrity he’d pushed away after she told him in his tiny travel bookshop, “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love me.”

Nope, I don’t got that moment at all.

I’ve kinda run out of steam and hopefully, it’s temporary, giving me enough time to collect my thoughts on the novella because no way is it going into that box set now. And since it’s not, now I can go for as high a word count as I need to tell a fully rounded story. It will also be a lighthearted addition to my Different Kind of Love series.

But first, I need to figure out what scenes to add, what the external plot is going to be (if it needs to be tweaked) and build up the internal plot that I had to discard along the way to fit the original word count requirement of 25k. Man, that’s a tight one, isn’t it?

Anyway, it all sounds so technical, doesn’t it? You’re probably wondering, where’s the spontaneity in the writing? Does everything have to be so planned? Where’s the surprise?

One of the things about writing a romance is that there is no surprise when it comes to the ending. We all know what happens. The couple or people involved if you’re writing about more than two people getting together (hello harems or reverse harems!) ultimately get a happily-ever-after (HEA) or a happy-for-now (HFN) ending. That’s why it’s called a romance. Not a love story which can have a sad ending (she died or he died or they went their separate ways) or an uncertain ending (what the hell just happened? Did they get together or not?). And not a drama which does not have to have a happy ending at all either.

They get a happy ending.

I guess the fun is in the journey to get to that ending.

There are many books out there on how to plot your story and for the last twenty years, I’ve gone by Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey – Mythical Structure for Writers which is based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. My copy is frayed at the edges and filled with highlights.

I also have his Audible course with Michael Hauge and listen to it often.

A summary of the journey, the archetypes, and Vogler’s memo can be found here.

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As much as I insist that I’m a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of her pants, with no outline), I’m not. That’s because even if I don’t write down my outline, in my head, I have the hero’s journey (above) memorized. I know what happens next. I can watch a Hollywood-produced movie and know they’re going to hit on all those beats. And even if they mix the pieces up like Memento, when the movie is put together in order, you’ll come out with the same journey. So much for calling myself as a pantser when I really wasn’t. I knew the rules well enough to know what to break if I wanted to. I plotted inside my head.

But Vogler and Hauge’s methods aren’t the only ones that I use. There is also Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! which is mainly geared for screenwriters but is so helpful for writers as well. Imagine you and your friends are having dinner at a restaurant and someone goes, “Hey! X movie came out tonight! Why don’t we check it out?”

Everyone pulls out their phones and pulls up the movie poster and someone asks, “What’s it about?”

One of the main questions that Save the Cat answers is What is the movie/book about? Can you answer it in one sentence (logline)? There’s more to it, of course, and it gives the reader s basic outline or beats that happen in a movie.

 

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The Transformatioanal Machine One-Sheet

 

Another outline book is Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (or How To Write Kissing Books) by Gwen Hayes, and this is geared specifically for romance writers. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. It helps you get your romance beats where they should be and have your readers rooting for your lovebirds to live happily ever after in the end.

Knowing basic story structure, no matter whose method whether it’s Vogler, Hauge, Snyder or Hayes’, is the reason I’m stuck at that ending of my book because I know I have to make that moment count and it’s not happening. It’s why I know that I need to beef up Phase 2 of the story (also called Fun and Games in Save the Cat!) to build up the attraction between my characters. Because there’s nothing like insta-love to turn off a reader…

What about you? Are there any books that help you write your stories? What would you recommend?