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

At the page

I'm scrambling to put the finishing touches on book three. Finishing touches ought not to include re-writing fifty pages of the ending or rethinking the bad guys and their accomplices...and is there a conspiracy in this story? Yes? But I don't have time to write that!

Evidently I need to redefine my definition of "finishing touches" because I'm pretty sure this happens to me every time I get to final stages of editing a book...before it goes to my editor, that it. 

Today's writing has gone like this: think, think, think. Come on. You can figure this out. Brainstorm. Mindmap. Replot on index cards. Repost index cards on wall. This is never going to work. Starry vibes, I've got a ton of work ahead of me. This is never going to work. Okay, I'll start on the easy part. That's done. Now the hard part. How am I ever going to get this done? Pen and notebook paper. Handwriting a scene. I should switch to typing. Okay, so this isn't terrible writing. Oh, I like these characters. There is hope. But man. So much work ahead. 

I've got one hour and fifteen minutes of good writing time left. For today that is.

Later!

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.  

Diary of a Romance Writer and her WIP. Entry #29: Eureka!

Hello, Plot! It's so nice to finally meet you. It only took me three months to convince you to show me your lovely face. Three months of coaxing and cajoling. Three months of mind maps, index cards, multiple notebooks, sticky notes, "outlines," (really just multiple pages of paragraph after paragraph of scene descriptions) and let us not forget the repositionable glue or the trifold, and about 60,000+ words of writing mostly blind on where the vibing hells this story was going!

(Yes. Vibing hells. Welcome to my world. It's called the Republic of Mage Territories.) 

I have a twenty-six page description of the plot, and I am completely giddy.  If these twenty-six pages weren't so incredibly messy, I'd be tempted to call it the first draft and go fill in all the 324 missing pages with description and dialog in the second draft. But that means I'd have to junk over 60,000 words, some of which are pretty good. Instead, I'll have to go in and fix them, a sometimes tedious and often confusing task that requires all brain cells on deck.

But that's okay.

Because I now know the majority of how every clue gets revealed, the secrets, the climax, the ending…all of it. In my excitement, I've spent today jumping around from scene to scene and writing little bits here and there. Scrivener is a jumpy writer's BFF. 

(For those of you who don't know, Scrivener is a writing program that lets you, among other things, create separate documents for each scene and/or chapter. I'd already created a novel's worth of scenes and chapters for this story, although a number of them are still blank.) 

Of course, jumping around from scene to scene isn't sustainable. Nor is it the best way to write a novel that flows. So eventually I will have to buckle down and start writing new scenes from start to finish. But for now, I'm jumping for joy! 

Onward!