Are you writing? I don’t want to hear excuses.

I know the distractions of everyday life.  Probably not as much as a few years ago, when I had two children at home, but I sympathize with writing mothers who never have enough hours in the day.  To find a few minutes to write is next to impossible.  Therefore, my hat goes off to the women of my writing group, Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (    Most of them have children at home.  Some of them work full-time.  All of them are short of time.  But they continue to write.  And critique, finish manuscripts, submit said manuscripts, and sell.  I don’t know the percentage of published writers in our group, but I’m willing to bet it’s over fifty, if not closer to seventy-five.  I’ll have to run a poll.

They’re a very dedicated group.  While everyone doesn’t make it to every meeting (the second Saturday of the month at 11:30) they come often enough that I’m worried we’ll soon outgrow our meeting space (Grandvilla Restaurant, 3594 Chicago Dr, Grandville, MI 49418 (616-538-1360).  I read once that the average turnover rate for volunteer organizations is 40% per year.  We laugh at that figure.  Our membership is slightly over last year’s and we continue to host guests each month.

We hold ourselves to high standards.  Along with setting monthly goals, we’ve split into several critique groups who meet outside of the group.  The synergy is awesome.

But that’s not enough.  This group, who continues to write and sell, wants to take our mission a step further.  Come October, we’ll host the “I Always Wanted to Write A Book” conference.  A major keynote speaker will be announced soon (shh! I can’t tell) as well as the other speakers and schedule.

I’ll leave that to later.  The point I want to make is that the typical excuses don’t apply to these women, and they shouldn’t apply to you.  If you have a story you want to write, why aren’t you?  If you need support, look around.  And if you have nothing to do this Saturday, join us at the Grand Villa Restaurant, 3594 Chicago Dr, Grandville, MI 49418
(616-538-1360) from 11:30-2:30.  We’ll be happy to help.

And we’ll be writing.


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NaNo isn’t just for November anymore

My writing group ( is all for writing challenges, such as National Novel Writing Month (, fondly referred to as NaNo.  We’re not particularly crazy about the timing – during the busy month of November.  Last year, we moved it to the winter.  It was such a success, we’re duplicating it.  Between meetings, February 12th to March 12th, we’re challenging each other to write 32K.  A gift certificate is on the line for one of the finishers.  This year, as a fundraiser for our “I Always Wanted to Write a Book” Conference in October, we’re asking for a small entry fee, with a prorated monetary “contribution” for every 1K not written.

I’m very excited about the story I’ll start next month.  I know the purpose of NaNo is flat out, no-holds-barred writing, giving the subconscious a chance to go off on tangents and bring brilliance to the story, but I like to have some structure.  So, I’ve loosely outlined “Ghost Lover” in a way that won’t squelch the creative process.  It’s not quite “pantsing” but it’s a far cry from my usual spreadsheet micro-controlling way of plotting.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Determine names.  Clare and her sisters Julie and Anna.  The hero is still nameless, but it begins with an “A”due to this complex, illogical naming system I have.
  • Pick the hero and heroine’s occupations that fit the plot.  Clare is a caregiver.  “A” was more difficult, but I asked the muses/destiny/collective consciousness and they came through with a court appointed legal guardian.
  • Do ghost research.  By studying different cultures and case studies, I now have the foundation for my worldbuilding.
  • List the things that “have” to happen.   Clare has to do this, this and this.  “A” has to do this and that.  By writing down the important events in their story, I can put them in rough chronological order, which will give  me logical structure as I’m blowing through 32K in four weeks.
  • Get back in the habit of writing every day.  Whether on the laptop or with a legal pad and pen, I’m starting to dedicate a specific time every day to the writing process.
  • Get a manicure.  Sure, it sounds trite, but I’m going to be spending more time on the keyboard, so a nice manicure (in Senorita Rosalita by Opi) is a self indulgence I’m willing to pay for.

What about you?  Are you starting a new book soon?  What do you do to prepare for it?

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Never give up, never surrender

Movie fans will recognize the above as a quote from “Galaxy Quest.”  I like to think of it as a writer’s credo.

In an industry filled with crushing competition, it’s a difficult road to publication.  Publishing is going through a tumultuous period.  The advent of epublishing has turned everything upside down.  Houses are closing, staff is being cut and authors are suddenly without a place to publish their works.

A tough time, eh?  Might as well give up and forget ever getting your story to a reader, right?

Not so fast.

I’ve always been a big believer of talent winning out.  Send your manuscript out and someone will recognize a good story and the skill it took you to write it.  I’ve seen it over and over.  Talented writers who submit and submit and gnash their teeth and cry with each rejection letter and want to give up.  But they don’t.  They keep sending out query letters, keep writing, and never give up.  And talent wins out.  They get published.

My debut novel, “What Do You Say to a Naked Elf?” was published over five years ago.  Its sequel didn’t sell.  The next book didn’t either.  I took a page out of “Galaxy Quest” and didn’t give up, didn’t surrender.

You know what?  Perseverance pays off.  “Tall, Dark and Slayer” will be released by Champagne Books in January, 2012.

Read an excerpt here.

And never give up.  Your turn is next.

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