writing tips

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Sex Scenes

Writing Sex ScenesThis topic recently came up as a prompt during the February Instagram challenge I participated in. The first place I went was to my blog archives to see what I’d said about this before. Turns out the last time I’d written about it was almost eight years ago. Not surprisingly, my thoughts have changed a little.

So, here we go!

Writing sex is an interesting subject to me since it’s one I’ve struggled with throughout the years. My first novel was a sweet contemporary romance, so I skipped the sex altogether. The pressure of writing sex intimidated me. Plus, the book’s content was pretty sweet, so sex didn’t feel necessary. I’d also written a novella with sex in it (Jungle Heat), so I was good with writing it. It had a mainstream heat, not too hot and not too sweet.

My first publisher specialized in erotic romance, so the heat level needed to be ramped up. Sex scenes needed to be plentiful. Needing to write so many caused me to majorly burn out on them. That’s why the Cry Wolf series and Beneath the Broken Moon doesn’t have as much sex as some of my books.

After the hiatus I took this past year, the charred bits have begun to flake off. Along with my passion to write, I’m beginning to enjoy writing sex again. Hooray for small victories!

One thing that hasn’t changed for me is needing to be in a certain mindset to write sex. I used to try to muscle through them because they were next, and I’m not crazy about writing scenes out of order. However, I’ve found that if I try to just write them regardless, they need a lot of editing. If the scene doesn’t excite you, chances are it won’t excite the reader either.

What I do with love scenes sometimes is type **insert sex scene here** and move on. The scene will be there when I’m ready, even if that happens to be during the editing process.

A funny story is one time I turned in a book to my editor with **insert sex scene here** still in. I was really tired, and my eyes must have glazed over it. My editor was confused, but I wrote the scene and turned it in for her to look it over. After that, I try to be more careful!

Until next week,

Sarah

Plans for 2019

2018 was something else. I’m happy that it’s in the past. I accomplished some great things, but I’m so excited for this new year. It feels like there’s so much potential, and no, I’m not just saying that.

In December, I stumbled upon Heart Breathings and started devouring the YouTube videos. (They’re really good.) There was a planning/productivity course detailing Sarra Cannon’s method of quarterly goal planning. I wasn’t sure about taking it, so I waited until the last minute to make a decision before taking the leap. That course really changed my outlook on goals and planning.

A couple things I learned, for instance, was breaking goals down into quarters makes it easier for someone to accomplish their goals. She also discusses the difference between a goal and a project. A goal is focused on an outcome while a project is something that can be broken down into tasks.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been utilizing what I learned and getting so much accomplished, even with it being a holiday season. Now that it’s January 2nd and the holidays are over. I’m excited to see how productive I’ll be and how much more balanced my life will be with a plan in place.

Until next time,


Sarah

Staying Focused

Since the beginning of November, I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month. That’s been going well! I’ve written over twelve thousand words so far, which I have to say is the most on top of it I’ve probably ever been. 🙂

Over on my Instagram, I’ve been participating in a NaNoWriMo Instagram photo challenge. You can find it at #igwritersnano. The fifth day’s prompt was How Do You Focus?

For me, I think one of the important things that have helped my productivity this month has been the fact I laid out a solid foundation for my book with the prep challenge I did in October. Knowing more about my characters, knowing about the locations, and knowing what’s going to happen (for the most part) in the book really helps. My problem before with writing was I’d get so excited to start writing that I’d dig into the book, then get stuck because I didn’t know where the story should go next. Having a beat sheet handy helps a lot.

With that said, I fire up Scrivener and put on my headphones. There’s something about using headphones that helps me block out the world and focus harder than if I’m listening to music without headphones. For music, my favorites are Electronic Dance Music and The Game of Thrones soundtracks.

Something else that’s helped keep me on track is using the PomoDoneApp, which is a Pomodoro timer that syncs with my to-do list. That helps me keep track of how long it takes me to write or create a blog post and ideally plan my days better.

I also enjoy doing word sprints on NaNoWriMo’s Sprints Twitter. Seeing other writers share their word counts too makes it exciting. You’re not the only one out there, just writing alone in the void.

The great thing about both of those methods is it allows me to focus on writing, but it also reminds me to take small breaks to get water and move around a little in between sprints or Pomodoros. In the past, I’ve had a bad habit of staying at my desk for hours upon end and forgetting that the world outside of my computer exists until I look up and I’m so hungry or thirsty and several hours are gone. I’m glad those days are gone! That certainly wasn’t a healthy way to work.

Until next time,

Sarah


Plotting? Check!

First of all, Happy Halloween! I hope whatever you do today is spooktacular. Once the clock strikes midnight, I’ll be writing since tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo. 🙂

Over the past month, I decided to try out something different from what I usually do. Normally, I get my beat sheet done, then I begin writing with basic ideas of characters, locations, and so on. Most of that stuff is in my head and doesn’t go down on paper.

Whew… Not this time!

This year, I saw an October Prep Challenge for NaNoWriMo, and I decided to go for it. It had been a while since I’d done anything like that, so what could it hurt? There were plenty of different topics from the Premise to Setting Lists to an Antagonist Profile. It helped me to see the plentiful benefits of going deeper with plotting than just throwing together a beat sheet and diving in. In fact, I’ll probably do a modified version of it for future books. Maybe I’m more of a plotter than a plantser I realized?

Part of Jacob’s Profile

As seen above, I created a template for character profiles with pictures to get a better picture of the hero, heroine, and all of the other characters I can foresee making their way into the story. My Google-fu even came in handy to find pictures for the settings. 

Overview of October Prep

I’ll get it all a little more tidily organized within Scrivener today, but knowing that all the major information I might need when I’m writing is just a click away feels pretty awesome.

Until next time,

Sarah

Still Time for a Second Chance

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So, the other day, I watched a great movie, even though I’m sure my husband would’ve preferred something else. I can’t help that I enjoy the occasional romantic comedy. I am a romance author after all. *grin* (My usual movie genre is action/adventure or paranormal.)

A few things mentioned in the movie solidly struck home. One of the topics was something I’d been enthusiastic about and on top of at the beginning of the year. Fitness. But as good intentions usually go, I made progress and then flailed around when I hit a rough patch. Although, I won’t beat myself up for slipping since that won’t fix anything.

The day after watching the movie, I hopped on the elliptical that’s been incognito as a coat rack recently, and while I know I have a busy few months ahead of me, I’m adamant to get back on the horse and not neglect the goals I made for myself this year.

Looking at the calendar, July will start the second half of the year. That’s still plenty of time to make progress on whatever goals we’d still like to do. Knowing that we’re heading into the second part of the year strikes a fire in my belly that I still have time to turn things around, and it’s really revved me up.

How about you? Is there anything you resolved to get done this year that you’re ready to tackle?

Writer Wednesday: Growing as a Writer

Before I start my Writer Wednesday, I have a couple News Bytes to share. Today Jungle Heat is being featured on Nook Lovers as a Daily Cheap Read. I also have been interviewed by Linda Andrews on her blog. Also, tomorrow I’m guest blogging at TRS Blue’s blog, and I’ll be participating in the TRS Release Party. I’d love if you would stop by!

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done a Writer Wednesday. I was looking through my early blog posts to see if I could get a glimmer of what to write about, and I noticed how much I used the word “try” in my blogs. I give myself credit for all that trying since I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had stopped, but there’s something pretty important I’ve learned in the time between then and now. As the Yoda quote goes, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I can’t say I’m perfect now. I know there are still some areas that I struggle with in being a writer. Some of them are even ones I struggled with back then, but I have more fortitude and willpower because I believe in myself more. My ability to write and edit have increased, and I know that getting published isn’t like winning the lottery. I know it’s possible, and it will happen. Obviously, since I just had a book come out with my publisher, right?

Wherever you’re at as a writer right now, strive toward what you want whether that’s improving your writing craft or getting published. It might take a while, but then again, I’ve been on my journey quite a while too.

How have you grown as a writer?

Guest Author Kinley Baker

Revising by Post Its

I’m in the middle of revising a brand new book and I’m very excited about this story. But I realized I need to concentrate heavily on revisions and make sure this story is the best it can be before I submit it to my dream publisher. So I’ve decided to revise by Post Its.

I’m hoping you will contribute today with your suggestions for revising by Post Its! This will help us all become more thorough revisers. To start, I’ll share a few of my Post Its. These are some of the main issues I struggle with.

Use all FIVE senses! SIGHT. HEARING. TOUCH. TASTE. SMELL.

I think with my latest manuscript especially I need to concentrate on incorporating all of my senses. What is my Point-of-View character seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling? I think this automatically helps with using active language and showing instead of telling.

Active language!

I tend to do a lot of: “Andy was sitting on the lawn.” Instead of the more active: “Andy sat on the lawn.” When I’m writing the first draft I try not to think about using active vs. passive language because it slows down the story. But going through revisions, I try to make sure that each sentence has been evaluated. I’ll always need to use some “to be” verbs, but limiting them will help the reader engage in the story. Of course, I still think focusing on using the five senses is the most important thing.

Beware of POV Shifts.

Point-of-View (POV) shifts easily sneak up on me. Even simple phrases can lose the reader with POV. I always have to remember to include what the POV character is thinking, feeling, seeing and doing. Every sentence counts. One ambiguous sentence can pull the reader from the story.

Set the scene with ACTIVE setting!

I tend to forget to ground my scenes. At the beginning of each scene the reader needs to know where the characters are. This doesn’t need to be written in long exhaustive paragraphs. I think the description-heavy style of writing is trending out. I usually try to summarize the location and time setting in one to two sentences with something that relates back to my POV character.

Make sure each scene has a conflict!

I go through each scene and make sure that each character has an overarching goal and one for the scene. With my new story, this is a lot easier because for the first time in a full length novel, I only have two POVs, the hero and heroine. I built the world so they would have continuous conflict between them, so this really helps when trying to clarify the conflict for each scene.

Scene and Sequel!

I think of scene as the action and the sequel as the reflection on the action. I try to keep my sequels short to keep the story moving forward.

***

I hope you’ll get involved in the comments! If you use Post Its, tell us what they say. If you have key phrases that help you in revisions, tell us that, too! We’d really love to hear your reasoning because I’m sure we can all learn from your suggestions!

Blurb for Ruined

Jessa is one healing away from death. Under the thrall of her gift, the Court’s Senior Healer risks giving her life in exchange for her patient’s.

Vale is a rebel ruler. When his brother is killed, he’s given the throne and the decree from the Court to produce an heir or lose his family’s hold on the land–and his deceiving advisors aren’t afraid to use murder as a weapon if their directive to stay away from the Senior Healer goes unheeded.

But Vale burns to possess Jessa. The heat between them leaves a wake of smoke, and even the powerful forces above want to bind them in a union that lasts forever. Vale taking another would be a betrayal neither could survive.

Their enemies fear a child born of such a powerful Healer and Warrior, but the true threat lies in the bond forged in shadows and fused in fire.

Buy Links

Paperback
Ebook

BIO

Kinley Baker read her first romance novel at the age of thirteen and immediately fell in love with the hero and the genre. She lives with her husband and her dog, Joker, in the Pacific Northwest. She is the author of the fantasy romance series, Shadowed Love. Book one, RUINED, released in July 2011 from Crescent Moon Press. You can find Kinley at www.kinleybaker.com, at her blog http://authorkinleybaker.blogspot.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kinleybaker.

Two Helpful Tips in Getting Published

Welcome to another edition of Writer Wednesday! I hope you’re all having a great week so far. This week, I’m going to share a couple tips I learned on my journey to get published.

First of all, it’s important to keep writing and moving on to the next manuscript once you’ve finished something. It can be hard to let go of a story you’ve written and edited over and over, and you should definitely send it out on submission, but I can say the two most helpful things I’ve done in getting published is writing a lot and finding a fantastic critique partner, Kinley Baker. She helped bring my skills to a whole new level.

Something to consider when you look for a critique partner(s) is to find someone on, or close, the same level as you. Yeah, it’d be great to pair up with someone who is a multi-published New York Times Bestseller while you’re an unpublished, and if you can do that kudos to you, but the chances are unlikely. My critique partner and I leapt from unpublished to contracted in about three months of each other. That’s pretty darn cool! (I also have two other awesome critique partners, Bella Street and Lisa Kessler. They moved to that next level within the three months too, which is so amazing.) It’s been helpful since we know what the other person is going through.

It might not seem like you’re moving and shaking and gaining a lot of knowledge by just writing, but you are. I think National Novel Writing Month is really helpful in giving yourself permission to make writing a priority. It helped me to write my first book, and then my second, third, fourth… and well, I’ve been doing it (and completing my novels) every year starting in 2005. Some of them, I wrote and put aside because I was working on another book at the time, but that doesn’t matter as much as simply honing your craft.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.

Writer Wednesday: Goals Part 1

(Since it’s so close to Christmas, I’m cross posting this and Part 2 with Castles and Guns. :-))

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I know it might be hard to think of this, especially if you’ve still got some Christmas shopping to do *raises hand*, but the end of the year is almost upon us. One of the things I’ve begun thinking about as New Year’s Eve approaches is what I’ve done this year, how effective I was, and what I’d like to do next year. I’m getting a jump on my goal setting since one of the things I’ve learned about myself is I’m better with a plan.

I honestly think it’s important as a writer to have goals and to know where we’re heading. Sometimes you just might not end up where you’d planned, which has been the case with me. There are quite a few things on my 2011 Goals list that I didn’t accomplished, but then again, there are also several items not on there that I did. I could easily say that if I’d stuck with what I’d planned, I probably wouldn’t be where I am, but that discussion is for a different day.

So, what’s first? I’d suggest going over your 2011 goals list and see what you’ve written down. Where are you in comparison?

  • Look at where you are goal-wise today. Are you unpublished and finishing up your NaNoWriMo project or polishing a query letter? Published and working on a proposal for a new book? Right now, I’m an author on an upcoming deadline.
  • What’s something you have accomplished this year? Did you finish your first novel? Find a publisher? I’m published and slowly getting the hang of social networking! 🙂
  • What’s something you haven’t accomplished that you wish you had? For me, I didn’t read as much as I’d have liked to, and I ended up not working on a couple projects I was looking forward to.
Now that we’ve looked at that, we can start thinking about next year. What are we hungry to say we’ve completed in 2012?
What goals have you accomplished this year (or are on track to complete)?

Writer Wednesday: Marketing

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Happy Hump Day! No, no… Not that kind of hump day. *grins* I hope you’re all having a great Wednesday. Just a few more days until the weekend. Today I’m introducing another new column, Writer Wednesday. I’m still toying around with all I want to do with it in the long run, but here’s we go.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fairly new published author, not published, or even multi-published, being diligent with marketing is so important. That’s one of your ways to connect with readers. No, seriously. And while it can be hard to find other things to say besides from “buy my book” or “here’s something else about me,” which trust me is important since how else would they know to buy your book, but there has to be a balance. You need to also provide something to your reader as another person or friend instead of being a salesperson all the time. No one wants that.

I can’t say I’m the greatest at this aspect of the business side of writing yet, but there’s one thing I have learned recently. It is really helpful to team up with other authors you trust and are friends with. If someone else is talking about your book/contest/review/etc., readers stand a greater likelihood of saying, “Ah ha, I have to check this out.” There is strength in numbers, after all! You’re providing great information to your readers, and your friends are providing the same for their readers. You’re both able to reach more people than otherwise possible. Win-win!

Here are a few great links about marketing I’ve found this week:

  • Marrying Marketing and Writing Goals – I do have a goals edition coming up soon, but I figured this would go well here since now that it’s less than two weeks until Christmas, it’s important to slowly begin thinking about the New Year. For me, I know marketing will be something I’m going to try to work on in 2012.
  • Use Your Enewsletter to Brand Yourself – I’ve had an e-newsletter for a while, but this really pinpointed some good advice on why you should have one, how they help, and some of what e-newsletters should contain.
  • How to Use the Twitter @Reply – This is an older post from Nathan Bransford (former agent and author) who is such a wealth of knowledge. I seriously didn’t know about this, and I’ve been using Twitter for almost two years.
  • How to Network Without Networking – This is another great read from Nathan Bransford that sums up how networking without the mercenary outlook. He notes that it should be about making friends.
What tips do you have about marketing and/or networking? Any subjects you’d really like to see on  an upcoming Writer Wednesday?
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