How to Write a Lot of Words. #amwriting

Hi and Happy New Year! You may know that in addition to writing 5 or 6 novels a year, I still have a day job. I’m a partner in a marketing communications agency. I work 3 full days in my company and then have 4 full days to write. Of course, that makes 7 days, so you can tell there aren’t a lot of days off. I have to note that i don’t have kids, so my life isn’t as complicated as many peoples. Still, a lot of writers ask me how i write so many books a year.

The answer of, course, is one word at a time.

I set a word goal for the day and for the week. The goal is pretty much the same every week with very few exceptions (during the holidays, i actually took full days off, but that’s rare.) I set a minimum of 1000 words a day. Then i shoot for 10,000 words a week. To write 10K a week, i have to write 2k words on 3 of the days, at least. Usually, i do 1000 on my day job days and 2k on the other days with one day i can fall back to 1k if i want to. If i write extra words on one day, i can either go for a higher total, or take time off on one day.

Ten thousand words a week is 520,000 words a year. That’s a bunch of books. (My husband just told me to add that blogs don’t count!  LOL)

Ten thousand words  a week means you can write and polish a full length novel in 2 months or less depending on how smoothly you write. A novella can be achieved in a month.

To a new writer, 1000 words a day sounds hard, but it’s not when you practice. Here’s what i recommend.

  • Forget the idea that you need inspiration or that you can get writer’s block. Sit down and write something. If it’s bad, you can change it later. Just count the damned words! LOL.
  • Learn to write a hundred words or so at a time. You don’t need big blocks of time. Between work assignments, slip in a hundred words in the cracks. Soon you’ll have a thousand.
  • Get a laptop that supports this approach and makes it easy to write in spurts, ie, you don’t have to restart every time you open the thing.
  • Get a planner or something like that. Get some “am writing” stickers. (I get mine from Rabbit Stickers on Etsy) Post one on every day and feel the thrill when you write 1000 words completed.
  • Don’t go to bed until you write the words.
  • If you have to miss a day, make it up the next day, but don’t do that often.

Does this make writing a job? You bet your butt-in-chair it does. If you want to publish books and make money doing it, you must make it a job. You can be a hobbyist writer, but don’t kid yourself. Writing is hard! If you love writing anyway, you’re a pro. Might as well get paid to be one.

I wish you a joyous, action-packed, writing filled 2018! Hugs! BTW, my new book, Bleu Balls, releases in a few days! And there’s a series sale for all the Balls books! Check it out.

Doing. Doing. Done. KNAVE OF BROKEN HEARTS

ffbe502af9637253a54f85f2ad48e059Hi–

If you follow the blog, you know that i’ve been packing and moving for months and it’s not done yet. We moved into a house that’s being renovated and it’s been chaos. We still have a garage full of boxes. In the middle of all this, i’ve been writing the second book in my Love in Laguna Series. It’s called KNAVE OF BROKEN HEARTS. It’s part of a three-book contract i signed with Dreamspinner Press. The book was due Feb 1. When i discovered i was moving, i asked for an extension and got an extra two to three weeks which made me feel a little better. Still, writing the book was painful. One time i literally wrote my agent and told her it wasn’t working and i was in despair. I was so distracted and had so many other things to do. I just kept plugging along a thousand or so words at a time but i lost my perspective. I was having trouble telling if what i was writing was any good.

Finally, as i got closer to the end, i started liking it more. I finally wrote The End at over 69,000 words toward the end of January and went through and edited line by line. Hey, not too bad. I told my agent, heroine that she is, that i wanted to try to get the book to Dreamspinner as close to the original deadline  as i could. I asked her if she would please read it for me since i didn’t have time for betas. She came back in a day and said she really liked it and would have comments to me last Saturday. I spent Saturday writing a synopsis and got the track changes from my agent Saturday evening. OMG, she loved the book, barely made any edits, and told me to accept the changes and send it to the publisher. I was so amazed. That’s exactly what i did. The story went to Dreamspinner on Sunday. Yep, February 1st, the original deadline. And today, Tuesday, the publisher came back, said i’d been a bright spot in the week, and she has sent the book to editing!

HAPPPPPY Dance. And a lesson in the power of doing a little at a time and not giving up — even when you want to!

Knave of Broken Hearts will be released sometime in the summer. :  D

How To Write a Blurb That Sells!

9781611188240_cover.inddHi everyone —

I’m getting ready to leave for the Romantic Times (RT) Convention in New Orleans. One of the things i’m doing there is a talk called Reality Check! It’s the ten things new authors need to know to survive in the wild world of publishing. One of the ten things is How to Write a Query Letter including a Blurb. A Blurb is the short (about 200 word) “teaser” for the book that you see on Amazon and all the other bookseller sites as well as on the back of print books. How much weight do you give the blurb when you buy a book? How much does it influence you?

As you can imagine, writing good blurbs is HARD. It has to capture the essence of the book in language that grabs readers and makes them want to go on — without giving too much away. I could easily do a whole workshop on how to write a blurb — and at RT, i’ll be encapsulating it into about three or four minutes! So, i decided i’d do a post here on How to Write a Blurb and the people who come to RT can check it out if they want to. So forgive me for getting all teachery and technical, but here are some steps in how to write a good blurb —

The Blurb will be less than 200 words generally for a full-length novel and is always written in present tense. I suggest trying to write a blurb about your book early in the writing process because it will help you crystallize your thoughts about the characters and their goals and conflict. Often, you may have to write a blurb for a story that you’ve barely thought of in order to submit a series, for example, on proposal. It’s worth practicing and getting good at it. Here are the steps:

  • Who is your main character? In most traditional romances it’s the heroine, so it’s not hard to decide. For authors who write MM like me, you have to determine who will be the MC — it can’t be both heroes although both are important. You have to know whose arc, whose problems and goals will drive the story. Your MC gets mentioned first in the blurb.
  • What is his/her problem and/or goal? This is the hard part because in a novel, your MC has a lot of problems. You have to dig down and discover what does he/she really want that he’s not getting. The heart of the matter. The one thing that drives all the other problems. State that at the  beginning of the blurb.
  • Who is the love interest? Bring him in next. How does the meeting of the two or the relationship of the two rock the problem/goal of the MC?
  • Now turn the point of view, so to speak, to the love interest for a moment. What is his problem/goal that is probably in conflict with the MC in some way? Tell us.
  • Now turn to the big question of the book — the cataclysm, or emotional upheaval that occurs when the two lovers’ goals and problems come into conflict. End the blurb with this issue. You generally don’t want to tell how the book resolves, although since it’s a romance, we know they end up together so you can suggest that if you need to.
  • Many writing teachers will say never end a blurb with a question. Personally, i disagree. I don’t think every blurb should end in a question, but some just naturally do. Decide if you like that approach for yourself.

Okay, here are a couple of blurbs for you to dissect. Can you pick out the sections?

This one doesn’t end in a question and does come close to resolving the story, but doesn’t tell us how any of it happens —

When Killian Barth, history professor, meets Blaine Genneau, quantum physicist, they ignite their own big bang. But sadly, Killian walks away. He doesn’t do physics professors. In fact, he doesn’t do humans, because Killian is the most powerful male witch in 10 generations and, though gay, he’s expected to save his declining race by reproducing.

He can’t even have sex with Blaine, because he’s been taught that sex with humans depletes his power. But if that’s true, why can young human, Jimmy Janx, dissolve spoons with a thought? Somebody’s a lying witch.

With his powerful cat familiar, Aloysius, on his shoulder, Killian brings the lightning against deceit and greed to save Blaine from danger and prove love is the greatest power of them all.

This blurb starts with the line the publisher said was the best she had ever read in a blurb —

Adam James is so far in the closet he could find Narnia. But coming out would threaten all he’s built as the attorney for the homophobic WMA Development, and the million-dollar paycheck waiting for him once they push their big land development deal through the city council. Then, on an early morning scuba dive, Adam meets a tall, lean rebreather diver named Sky who makes him want to live a different life.

Sky Sea Mickeljohn doesn’t compromise. He knows what he stands for and stands for it openly: the environment, world peace, and being gay. So how could he find himself lusting after a damned developer? Especially the one working on the WMA land development deal, which would put thousands of people at risk by creating a toxic waste site they have neither the capital nor the know-how to clean up? And worse, what’s going to happen when someone opens Adam’s closet door?

The best way to write a great blurb is to practice, practice, practice. Also, read blurbs you like, the ones that make you want to buy the book. I think i love writing blurbs because i’ve written so many ads in my life, and blurbs are a lot like that. Find the heart of the matter and sell it!

Thank you so much for coming by. What do you like most in blurbs. what makes you want to read a book?  : )

The Making of Menage! Love Times Three.

TL_GeneticAttractionHi —

If you are here for the Thankfully Naughty Blog Hop, ThankfullyNaiughtyClick HERE!

As you might imagine, my MM stories are my most popular books, but there are a core of dedicated readers who love the menages. These books have also won a ton of awards. I have five of those books — or rather four true menages and one prequel to a menage that shows how the men met and fell in love. Recently, these books have been selling very well and i’m interested in the fact that new readers are finding them all the time. Here are a few things i’ve learned about writing menages Tara style.

  • Love between three people can be just as sweet and intense and passionate as between two – at least in romance novels! The real-life dynamics of a ménage are probably very tricky, but virtually everyone has harbored in their heart at sometime the thought that maybe, just maybe, they could love two people. Ménage stories play into this fantasy.
  • Ménages make interesting plots. Simple, you have three people to play with, toTL_TheScientistandtheSupermodel_coverin make interact with each other, to provide richness and detail to your story.
  • Pronouns can be killers! Writing male/male stories is a unique challenge since both characters are called “he”. This is also true in MMF, but you now have another pronoun to add. At least there’s only one she.   I have also written MMM ménages and that is amazing — he, he and, oh yes, he!
  • Sex between three people needs careful thought. The reader needs to know where each character is and what they’re doing. No one can be left out, so we have to see reactions from each character as well as actions.
  • There must be good reason why each character loves the other two. Each must have his own story, depth of character, motivations, just as if it were a love story between two people.

In case you haven’t seen them, i’m posting the trailers fro the first two books in the Genetic Attraction series (and the first two novels i ever wrote) — The Scientist and the Supermodel and Genetic Attraction. If you’d like to read excerpts from these books, just check them out under Books.

Thanks for coming by! : )

Creating Characters for a Romance. The Secret is Conflict.

10932162_sHi —

If you haven’t entered to WIN my Balls to the Wall Bangle bracelet OR @ 10 GC, please Click HERE and do that. Deadline to enter is midnight Friday October 11th, so hop over now!

I’m currently in the happy place of starting a new book — totally new. Not part of a series or already proposed. The page is blank, which is both delightful and terrifying.  It feels like  i’m doing the “gazing into the universe waiting for someone to introduce themselves” dance. But actually, there’s a process involved.

I’m sure different writers have different approaches, but i tend to start with a character so i’m going to riff for a few minutes on creating characters for a new romance. HeartsandFlour_ByTaraLain_453x680Since my new book isn’t far enough along to use as an example, i’m going to describe the creation of  Hearts and Flour. This is a good example because it’s a stand-alone novella, not part of a series. In that book, i was walking in my hometown of Laguna Beach one day and noticed a health food stand — very organic and vegan. What if i created a hero who owned a place like that? He’s not only a vegan but a fanatic about raw food. And that’s how Micah Truveen was born.

Okay, the basis for any good book is conflict, both internal and external. Your main characters have to want something they aren’t getting and overcome the obstacles in their pathway. It helps if the two MCs, who in a romance are the lovers, want different things and/or have inherent characteristics that make them somewhat or even VERY antagonistic toward each other. After all, you have to keep them from living happily ever after for 20 to 100,000 words! So when i’ve defined a character somewhat, i ask who would be a logical antagonist to my MC? In the case of Micah Truveen, how about someone who bakes big, delicious, sugar-laden cupcakes!?

But my second character can’t just be an antagonist. He has to want something too that 12106307_she’s not getting. My second MC in Hearts and Flour is Quentin Darby, a lovely, young southern man who adores his grandmother but has never told her he’s gay or — a cross-dresser! Since Micah is out and proud, that continues the contrast between the lovers.

So once the inherent conflict is established, the story begins to unfold for me. They have to meet and be attracted before Micah discovers that Quentin is the evil cupcake baker, there has to be a confrontation, both between the lovers and with the grandmother — plot points begin to take shape and soon I have a story! It’s funny. I never knew this was my process until i taught the course recently at Savvy Authors and wanted to explain a successful plotting approach to a pantser who didn’t want a lot of structure but needed a little.

So now i’m creating my new book. You see there’s this cardiac surgeon who– but that’s another story. :  )

Writing the End of a Novel! What a Trip!

13942368_sHi all —

I literally just wrote the last scene in my new novel that will be released in April of 2014. It’s called Wolf in Gucci Loafers. I love writing the end of books. I think it must be my favorite part. As i approach the end, i stop writing and go back to the beginning of the book to determine what threads need to be tied up, what themes should be reprised, what references might be included for added effect. And then i plunge. I probably wrote 4,000 words today both going forward and going back into the novel to reinforce motivations and key decisions that contribute to the characters’ arcs. For example, i realized after reading the book through that my secondary hero, the love interest of my Main character, was the one who needed resolution. His was the biggest shift at this point in the novel, so he actually gets three important scenes where we see his change of attitude before we get to the final scene in the main character’s POV.

Historically, all romances ended with a wedding. Literally, the final scene of most comedic ie. romantic plays was a wedding. I still think romances usually end in a wedding. It may not be a physical wedding — or it might. It could be a marriage of minds where the two main characters come to see each others’ points of view. It might be a sexual wedding where the lovers have sex for the first time. Me? I love real weddings and i often end my books with them. Because i write gay romance, i frequently choose to set my stories in states that allow same-sex marriage just so i can have my big finish. I think the traditional writers knew what they were doing. Nothing satisfies quite like a wedding. I also think if i don’t cry at the end of my books, my readers won’t either so my poor husband walked in on me crying as i wrote the final scene of Wolf.

Endings of books are great. After all, you only get one chance to make a last impression!

Be sure to drop by tomorrow, when Milly Taiden will be in the house with her new release! And i’ll be announcing the winners of my Blog tour contest and my Facebook contest on the front page of my website so check it out! Thank you for coming by! : )