Glitter, Sparkle, Shine

Every now and then something so super cool enters the average human's life that it inspires her to get out of bed in the morning. And yes! Such a thing has happened to me. I am so thrilled about my new 2017 Ink+Volt planner that I rush through my morning routine so I can get to my desk and open it. 

Fourteen days into the calendar year and I am organized and productive. 

You'll probably want one for yourself. Click. Quick. Because by the time you get yours, we'll be 3+ weeks into the new year. But that's okay. Start recording all the marvelous things you've accomplished so far this year, and then write them in their appropriate spots in the planner when it arrives. If you're one of those people who add things to your to-do list just so you can check them off, I know you understand what I'm talking about. One can't have the first month of the year stay blank! What kind of start is that? 

I spend a lovely fifteen minutes everyday going over my goals...weekly, monthly, and yearly. Ink+Volt has a place for all of those, and that is the key to what propels me forward, consistently seeing my ultimate destination. (Okay, consistently for two weeks.) 

The Ink+Volt planner also has a special section for your year's theme--a word or short phrase that encapsulates what you want to achieve for the year. This requires some thought. Although there is a place to brainstorm about the theme, I didn't want to risk messing up my new planner with the wrong thoughts, so I brainstormed elsewhere. 

(I'm not usually so anal. It's just that I have a thing for notebooks, and this one is so smooth and soft and important. I didn't want to mess it up right from the get go.)

As I was brainstorming, at first all I came up with were words like:

PRODUCE

FOCUS

DISCIPLINE

Geesh. 

2017 sure was looking to be a fun year.

:-/

I needed to pretty it up a little bit, add some sparkle, make it shine, glitter it with goodness and joy.

And presto!

BLOSSOM!

My writing career blossoms. 

Ta da! My theme in four words.

The day after I'd decided on my theme--I hadn't told anyone yet--Mr. Rae and I were texting about what I might be doing that day. I responded. Something like, "I have to get this synopsis done and sent off to my editor ASAP for a book proposal." (I'd been working hard on it for a couple of days...as in shut away behind a tiny door, deep in the bowels of our house, and no one had seen me in forever.) See for yourself how the rest of the text conversation went.

Also, see for yourself that he's the sweetest guy ever!

Blossom!

Did you see that?

He said blossom! And I hadn't even told him! (And he would never snoop, in case your sneaky little mind was wondering.) It was a sign from the universe. I'm on the right path.

And books ARE coming. For those you waiting for a Mayflower Mages book, the third book is with the publishing gods who live in New York, waiting to hear its destined fate...

...may they be benevolent and kind in all their wisdom. Amen.

In the meantime, I'm working through draft after draft of the fourth book. 

One way or another, I will have release dates soon for both books.

After all, it is written in my planner that they. Will. Be. Published.

It is written; therefore, it is so.

Because I read about it everyday.

See for yourself. (It's square bullet points #1 and #4.)

 (Colorful pens and doodles. The keys to success.)

(Colorful pens and doodles. The keys to success.)

I have a lot to accomplish in 2017, but that's what blossoming is all about...brimming forth with creative potential that flowers into actuality.

Life is busy. Writing is happening. Books are coming.

And now I have to go put a checkmark in my planner next to "Write blog post."

Mr. Rae steals my heart again

I was editing in the back seat of my minivan last night at soccer practice. It's what I do Monday through Thursday. Last night I finished a draft...one that turned the story into something delicious.

Finally.

FINALLY.

I almost cried when I reached The End.

I still have another draft to go--SIX DAYS TO DEADLINE!--but I texted my husband that I'd finished this one.

He said we should celebrate.

I said with cake and champagne.

Alas, that's not on our diet.

Look what was waiting for me when I came home. 

Dear Microsoft Word for Mac,

You most likely know that you are very important piece of software to Mac users everywhere. Without you, we would struggle to conduct business communications with PC users. I appreciate your help in that endeavor. 

I would like to ask you for a little bit more help. Just a smidge. Less than a pinch really.

I'm a novelist. And I write big books and I cannot lie. No other brother can deny--

Oh. Sorry.  It's just such a catchy song, you know. (My children would be mortified.) Back to my issue...

Why do you stop showing the word count of the document once there are more than 100,000 words? Do you think that once there are that many words a writer no longer needs to see the count? Is it too hard to count any higher in a timely fashion? Is it because there isn't enough room in the little word count bar at the bottom of the page?

I would like to encourage you to show that you can easily count higher than 100,000. I know you can! You're Microsoft. You mighty beast, you! 

Please help a little old writer like me. Help me know when I've finally cut my draft down to under 100,000. Don't keep it a surprise as I slowly shrink the book. I like to see my progress without having to click. 

If this is absolutely not an option for you, I understand.

Some things are hard.

In which case, I have another suggestion. How about creating a shortcut so that I can bring up the word count box without lifting my fingers from the keyboard? 

Also, while you're making shortcuts, could you please make one for the strikethrough feature? Italics, bold, and underline all have their own shortcuts. Why not one for strikethrough, too? If you need some help in that, I suggest you call Scrivener. They have a lovely shortcut for it. 

I'm certain you believe in equality for all font styles, just like I'm certain you believe in equality for all sizes of word count--tiny, small, medium, and Venti. I look forward to a long, shortcut-filled relationship with you.

Thank you,

Anise Rae

The importance of creating lots and lots and lots

It's been a long time, but I'm finally on a roll with writing. Life has settled down, become steady, and even when it's not, my new philosophy, as of the past six months, is "teach yourself to work in uncertainty."

Teach yourself to work in uncertainty. ~Bernard Malamud

I've assigned myself another motto as well: 

Work hard and publish, publish, publish. ~Anise Rae

Among a few of my writer friends, I'm known for being wordy when it comes to first and second drafts. Really wordy...as in novels that are too long to submit. That makes it a challenge to publish, publish, publish because it takes a long time to get all those words down. It takes more time to trim the excess.

But lately I've been experimenting.

Experiment! ~Anise Rae

Just that word stirs up excitement in the glitter and goodness of my creative soul. (Creativity needs to be stirred frequently. Like a cauldron brimming with iridescent swirls and rainbows, creativity bubbles best when there's a big spoon moving through it.) 

At its heart, creating something new is an experiment. Always. But it takes skill and willpower to keep that fresh, determined feeling alive through the long process of creating the first draft of a novel. 

I realized this after I decided to write a short novella. I wasn't sure I could do it. Wordy girls don't mix well with abbreviated tales. 

But I figured I had little lose. It shouldn't take me that long write, I told myself, not when compared to a novel-length work. I planned to work on it for one hour a day. As I started the process, I even re-wrote the beginning a few times to make sure I had the story starting the way I wanted it to. That was an easy step to justify. If each scene took me an hour to draft, then I was only losing a couple of hours of work in that mini-experiment. 

Also, I didn't plot. I didn't plan. This is soul-shaking stuff for a person who likes rules and structure.

After working on it for at least one hour a day on it, mostly sprinting with the lovely and talented Kiersten Fay, I put it away. For the rest of my work day, I edited a novel that has taken me over a year to develop.

It took me thirteen days to create the first draft of the novella.

I should have celebrated with cake and confetti.

Alas, I'm on a diet and the house is already messy enough.

Now I'm working on my second novella. This one is in a slightly different sub-genre than usual for me which adds to the experiment. I'm sprinting for one hour a day, while still editing the novel during the rest of the day. 

It's freeing. And fun.

And that's the way creating should be.

Will this last? Who knows? But that's okay. Experimenting with different creative paths is a way of life for every creator, including novelists. You'd think that once a writer gets some books under her belt then she should have her process down, but I've had to give up that idea. Every book is an adventure...even for the writer. 

Embrace the adventure. ~Anise Rae 

Temptation Striking

I wrote 3,000 words yesterday. For a weekend, that’s not bad at all. In fact, compared to the last year of writing, 3,000 words is so beyond excellent there ought to be continuous fireworks blossoming above my house and a field full of yellow, happy dandelions bobbing with joy and delight in my front yard. 

But when yesterday evening rolled around, my brain was wrung out. Happens. No biggie. By morning, it's ready to go again. The problem is staying focused on my goal during those evening hours. When my brain is tired, it wants to leave my writing realm and go someplace else…preferably via a book. It wants to travel into someone else’s sci fi or fantasy world where the promise of romance lurks, as well as some really hot sex. Alas, reading a deliciously, yummy romance while I’m writing my own book pulls me out of my story world, which is where I really need to stay without distraction for weeks and weeks in order to get my book finished. This requires some serious discipline. 

Discipline always requires a plan. 

I once read an FB post from author Denise Grover Swank. She was getting ready to write a new book and needed to have her entertainment lined up for when she was done with writing for the day, which meant watching TV shows and not reading books. 

Even though I’m not a big screen fan, I’m all for the TV Plan for Writing Focus

My plan consists of The Good Wife. It’s on Amazon Prime and has so many seasons that I should be done with my book before I get to the end. (I love Alicia! Although I really get nervous for her when she’s about to make a bad decision. I don’t enjoy that.) I watch the show through the Amazon app on my antique Wii. However, in the last two days, our Internet has changed. (Hubby’s domain, and I’m not even going to try to remember the details.) My poor, old Wii can no longer connect to the Internet. 

I can’t watch The Good Wife! My TV Plan for Writing Focus is kaput! 

Naturally I had a weak moment. 

I tried to resist. 

Really. 

I tried reading writing blogs. I tried knitting. I tried looking for other shows through OnDemand. But without Alicia, it just wasn’t the same. 

I weakened. I downloaded a sample of a fantasy novel that had no element of romance. (These pose little threat to my focus because what’s a story without romance? Boring, that’s what.) My wrung-out brain wasn’t buying it though. 

I teetered farther toward the edge of the wagon. I googled new paranormal romance novels. Just to see. You understand? Right? After all, it’s my field of expertise. I need to stay on top of things. I ended up on FreshFiction.com. One thing led to another, and I ended up downloading a sample (a sample, mind you) of Rebecca Zanetti’s Mercury Striking. It was delicious. And then the sample ended. Ended! I would have to buy. 

But no!

Must resist!

Sigh. 

Resist I did.

Instead I went back and reread the sample and studied her writing style. I turned my weak moment into an improving experience. 

I have no idea what happens in this book, but I’m certain it’s delicious. 

Now it’s a carrot dangling on the end of a very, very long stick. Very dangerous. One tiny, little jump off the wagon and it’s mine. All mine!

Moral of the story: If you want to remain disciplined, always have a plan B. Also, a plan C. 

I still have neither. 

Wishing you strength and the wisdom to have a backup plan,

Anise

P.S. Please, someone go buy Mercury Striking and read it in my stead.  Then leave a comment below and tell me how awesome it is. (But don’t tell me what happens because I am SO going to read it…as soon as my book is written. Riiiiigght.)

 P.P.S. If you do read it and you live in the US and you’re the first person to comment as doing so on my blog, I’ll send you a prize. ;) If you don’t live in the US, please do still comment. I’ll send you bundles of gratitude and hugs and kisses and good thoughts and wishes for a winning lottery ticket. I’ll blow all that in your direction. Which sounds like it’s nowhere near as good as a real prize, but when you win the lottery, I’m certain you’ll feel differently.