Monday, June 29, 2015

Same Song, Second Verse

Back on August 27, 2013, I wrote the following post on my blog.

TBR should be TFB.

That is Tragically Forgotten Books.  I’ve wondered how many To Be Read piles out there have my books waiting for the owner to pick up and read.
For myself, I have over thirty . . . I think. Truthfully, I haven’t counted them, and I would probably be horrified by the number. A few months ago, I went through my pile and pulled every book that didn’t set me on fire to read it. Then I dropped them off at my day job, and let everyone pick out the books they wanted to place in their TBR pile.
Otherwise, I would be staring at the books and feeling guilty. I know the authors are hoping by giving away their books that they would get a new fan or two. If I let the books sit and not read them or give them away, I’m preventing that author from becoming successful. I know. No guarantee, but it’s a given it won’t happen at all if I don’t do something.
This year, I’m determined to read a TBR book between each one I purchase. So I’ve gone through five or so. That’s not many for the year to be almost over, but whenever I’m at home with extra time, I write. Reading is what I do when I’m burned out from writing and need a change.
The moral to this story is, if you have a large TBR pile, and some are more than a year old, it’s time to pass them on. Those authors will appreciate it.
Present day
Of course, the one area we all have extra books is our e-reader. It's so simple to push that button. So easy and so tempting. But the same problem. If you don't read that book and possibly type a review somewhere or tell your friends about the wonderful book, you're betraying the promise you made to the author when you purchased the book or downloaded it free. So make a deal with yourself. Read a book you already have each time you download or receive/buy another.
So do you pledge to get rid or improve your To Be Read Pile? Don't let it be a Totally Forgotten Book Pile.
Carla Swafford loves romance novels, action/adventure movies and men, and her books reflect that. She's married to her high school sweetheart and lives in Alabama USA.
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
February 2016, HIDDEN HEAT, A Brothers of Mayhem novel
July 2016, FULL HEAT, A Brothers of Mayhem novel
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Monday, June 22, 2015

How do you do backup?

At one of the first Southern Magic meetings I attended two years ago, a member had recently lost a lot of her work and reminded everyone to be sure to backup your work. Well, her exact words were, "Backup your damn work, people!" And that stuck with me. :-)

About every four hours I backup my WIP. I work in Scrivener on the Dropbox cloud, which saves every two seconds (literally), but I wanted more protection that that. My internet is not reliable in the country.

So, I compile my WIP and save it on the desktop and a thumb drive. Finally I email it from my Yahoo to my gmail accounts.

I had a small scare recently, which made me wonder if that was not frequent enough. So, tell me, how do you backup your work and how often? Does it depend on your word count or pages or time you've spent?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jogging, Writing, and the Journey

Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite novelists, compared his writing life to his running life. He said:
Most of what I know about writing I've learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons. How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate--and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself? I know that if I hadn't become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different. How different? Hard to say. But something would definitely have been different. (Source: Haruki Murakami: Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance )
I really love this quote, because I understand the connection between training for something like long-distance running (or any other endurance sport) and writing a novel, and it makes perfect sense to me. Both training and writing are hard things to do.  You not only have to push yourself but also have to learn how to pace yourself. If you go too fast too soon, you can crash and burn--in a marathon, in writing, in life. And, specifically as it applies to the writer's life, if you don't take an attitude towards writing that emphasizes the journey, then you are likely setting yourself up for disappointment. Sure, we have heard of the first-time novelist who becomes an instant best seller, but for the most part, the majority of novelists write years before (or even if) they ever sell anything.

But back to running.

I am not a runner. I am more of a jogger. I have trained for marathons and half-marathons, but I am not fast and usually end up at the end of the group crossing the finish line. But this has never bothered me, because usually I am just happy I actually made it to the finish line. I think the most important thing about training for marathons or endurance events has to do with the journey. You do a little bit each day, building up your strength, going a bit farther each time. You work yourself up to a comfortable pace that doesn't wear you out but that you can maintain throughout your event. You prep beforehand with the right amount of water and are religious about self care before, during, and after the race. Eventually, you make it to the finish line. It doesn't matter if you are first or last, as long as you finish. The key is to put one foot in front of the other and keep going, one step at a time. 

Endurance sports have a lot in common with the writer's life, and each of the above steps have to be taken, in one way or another, in your writing life, too. Just for me, I like the comparison of jogging and writing much more than running and writing. Running implies a pace faster than I am comfortable with, but jogging permits a slow and steady pace that allows my body and mind to stay on track and tuned into my purpose.  I approach the process of working on a long writing project in the same way as I do when committing to an endurance test of any kind: As long as I push myself a little bit each day, I will eventually finish. The key is to keep going and look forward to the finish line.

Susan Sierra is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She loves books and old letters, adores her dog and family, and has a deep and committed love affair with coffee. She spent time as an undergraduate studying (having fun) in Mexico, went on to work for a large regional magazine as a copyeditor, and then decided that she hadn’t tortured herself enough in she went to graduate school. After many years, she walked away with a PhD and an unhealthy relationship with Charles Dickens. She hopes to complete her first full-length novel in 2015. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Grab Your Colored Pencils

Based on a drawing by
Pierre Denys de Montfort

So this year has been stressful for me. But I just published my first novel. And I made PRO. I'm actually doing fine--a little frazzled around the edges but on the whole okay.

One habit I've cultivated to combat some of my anxiety is coloring. Adult coloring has taken the world by storm with complex drawings that are both beautiful and fun.

Coloring is an activity most of us remember from our childhood. It evokes memories of simpler times when major life decisions were often whether to stay inside and watch cartoons or go outside and play pirates.

The shedding of adult worries and going back to simply picking out colors to decorate a page, swiping the crayon in small motions to fill a lined void is almost meditative. I have to admit--I love it.

So when deciding on what kind of marketing I wanted for my new novel, The Klockwerk Kraken, I thought about coloring pages. And I'm unveiling my new pages here.

Click the pictures to download their corresponding PDF. Print them off and then get out your colored pencils.

Spend a few moments doing something fun, something colorful, and something relaxing.

Come color with me.

AIDEE LADNIER is a writer who loves quirky characters. You can visit her website at or meet her at some of her favorite social media sites:
Twitter  |  Tumblr  |  Pinterest  |  Facebook

Friday, June 12, 2015

Objectionable Legal Writing

Nothing makes me want to punch a book in the face more than a legal scene where one lawyer calls another "counselor."  I don't care what you've seen on Law & Order, we don't talk like that  . . . EVER!

As a lawyer, here are my top five pet peeves when it comes to reading fiction dealing with the courtroom:

1.     The Rocket Docket

Cases take years to go to resolve. Years. YEARS. I stop reading any story where someone walks into a lawyer's office seeking representation and then is in trial a few weeks later.  I'm not saying it is impossible, because there are certain types of cases where that can happen (so do your research), but as a general rule, the wheels of justice move at a glacial pace.

2.     The Eleventh Hour Smoking Gun Document or Witness

As a general rule, witness and exhibit lists are filed well in advance of trial, and what is contained on them is often limited by information that has been previously exchanged and/or disclosed among the parties.  It is rare that a judge will allow a witness or document not previously disclosed to be used at trial.

3.     Hissy Fits in Court

If a lawyer grandstands or goes on a screaming tirade in a court room while examining a witness, he or she is going to get a knot yanked in his or her neck by the judge.  Lawyers are expected to behave professionally in court.  The judge will not let a lawyer get in a witness's face.  A jury is supposed to base its decision on the facts, not passion or prejudice. A judge will do a lot more than pound a gavel if a lawyer starts peacocking around the courtroom. Someone is going to be paying sanctions/a fine and may find himself or herself in custody of a marshal or bailiff.  

4.   Lawyer in a Big Firm Handling a Small Case

Big firms have big overhead. While lawyers in those firms can do some pro bono work, they also have a certain number of billable hours they have to meet to generate the necessary revenue for the firm to pay its rent, make payroll, etc. Practicing law isn't cheap. Lawyers have high hourly rates, and those rates typically increase based on the size of the firm and the size of the city in which the lawyer practices. A lawyer is not going to be working on a case that will generate a fee that results in the firm taking a loss. Doing so will drag the firm under (on a side note, when I took a class on class action litigation in law school, our professor had us read A CIVIL ACTION to learn the real moral of the story - one case can bankrupt a law firm).

5.     Procedural and Evidence Mistakes

If you are going to have a courtroom scene, research it. Audit a class on evidence, civil procedure and/or criminal procedure. There are rules about what can and can't happen in a courtroom.  There are rules about what can and can't be presented to a jury. Random misplaced objections and cases being heard in the wrong type of court are common mistakes in fiction, and they alienate people familiar with the legal community. 

If you want to avoid drawing objections to your legal writing, be sure to attend my workshop (Law and Order for the Writer: Avoiding Objections to Your Legal Writing) at the RWA National convention in New York.  My workshop will be Thursday, July 23 at 12:45: 

Do you have a professional mistake that drives you nuts (don't get my mother-in-law started on medical dramas)? I would love to hear it.  Do you have any questions about writing legal scenes? I'm happy to help.