Thursday, August 05, 2010

I'll Take Potpourri for $50, Alex

I LOVE Jeopardy. Always have. My niece and two nephews and I are VERY serious about our Jeopardy watching. We sit, armed with pen and paper, and race to come up with the right answers first. It gets pretty rowdy and the best part is that they are learning without knowing it. Sneaky, sneaky.

There are many categories in which I do quite well. I tank when it comes to baseball. But I slam dunk when it comes to Classical Music (which isn't really about "classical" music, but we won't get into that.) One of my favorite categories is Potpourri. Surprise answers to questions you never in a million years would have thought to answer.

Answers like - They both wear their spurs to bed.

(*I'll post the question to this answer at the end of my post.)

Anybody know the question? Anyone? Bueller?

So after a fabulous, whirlwind time at conference I have a few potpourri questions for those of us who are in JEOPARDY of becoming published writers or who are already hopelessly in the clutches of the world of deadlines, revisions, line edits and getting a cover that looks like historical Barbie does London. Feel free to answer any or all of them.

1. When you get ready to write a new chapter, do you have a target number of pages you set for each chapter or do you simply write and decide when to end the chapter when you come to it?

2. What font do you use?

3. Do you go by number of pages x 250 words per page or do you take the computer Word count?

4. Do you work with a critique partner, a critique group or alone? More than one critique partner? At what point do you send something to your critique partner to read? Do you use Beta readers? At what point? How do you work out critiquing so it is an equitable swap between your partner and yourself?

5. In today's current market for romance writers how do you REALLY keep yourself going? No platitudes, cheerleading or Hallmark sentiments. How do you make yourself sit in that chair day after day when many of your fellow writers, even agents and editors, talk about how hard it is to break into publishing today?

So, there you have it. My own little Writer's Potpourri. No prize for answering every question, except perhaps undying gratitude from someone who reads something that keeps them in the game. Cuz, trust me, my fellow masochists, this gig is NOT for sissies!

Oh, and the question to the answer I posted?

What do cowboys and snakes have in common?


Callie James said...

I love Jeopardy, but no show makes me feel so in need of going back to school more than that one. Probably why I like it. It's educational!

Making me think, Louisa!

1. I just write. Funny, but my scenes usually end around 14-20 pages, so that’s the usual size of my chapters.

2. TR 12. Every time.

3. Computer word count, since every editor/agent I’ve read in the last year says that’s the way to do it.

4. I have one critique partner who gives me the overall picture. I love that. Picking it into pieces makes my brain go numb and tends to insert the other person’s voice instead of mine. Sometimes I get the opinions of others here and there, which is good. Don’t forget contests (which I haven’t done in quite a while). And then there’s my hubby who always likes to get the first read (and input).

5. About two months ago I started dragging bottom. I had to reinvent and come back to why I started writing. So. Now I'm back to writing for me and not the market, trend, editor, or agent. Oh sure, I’m still putting in 30 hours a week on top of my day job, but I’m enjoying it again without the focus of getting published. Does that mean I won’t query? No. But I’m writing, enjoying, and finishing the book before I send out. And I’ve promised myself time off in between books. So in a week when I finish my edits on this book (yes everyone I finished my book while ya'll were at nationals!), I will have two books to query and I’m taking a month off so I can reflect on all the rejections coming in before putting pen to paper again.

Kat Jones said...

Great blog! Jeopardy is a fun show, though it reminds me of how little I actually know. :)

I don't set a page limit for chapters, but probably need one. I use Word count to see how productive I've been.

I don't have a critique partner, per se, but I do have an awesome writing group that helps me.

And I guess the reason I stay in the seat is because I'm too stubborn to give up! :)

Christine said...

Great idea--love it.
My answers:

1. I have an idea about how many scenes I want in the chapter, but I really don't know where they end till I finish the book and start revising.

2. Times New Roman 12pt

3. Computer word count.

4. I work with a committee of dedicated writers who each bring something to my writing table. I have one main CP who I send it all to and pray she forgives me for my goop soup. I read all her stuff and thing we're a good balance of talent.

5. I'm obsessed with writing, but it's tough. There are days when I question my sanity--no money yet and it costs money to be a SERIOUS unpublished writer seeking publication. But I refuse to quit--I look for small victories, call my committee members to bolster my spirit and I just tell myself if I don't write, don't submit, then I'll have truly thrown away thousands upon thousands of hours and a lot of money to say "I quit." Nope. Not going to do that to myself. If I do think about bagging it, well someone in my head bops me with a new story and I have to write it. Oh, there's your answer. I just can't stop. I'm nuts.

Jeanie said...

Fun post, Louisa. I use a rough word count for my chapter length -- anywhere from 2500 to 3500 words per chapter. Shorter for a novella. TR 12 is my font of choice and I use the computer word count. I'm lucky to be in a wonderful writer's group. Yes, I use Beta readers, anyone brave enough to volunteer. As for the writing thing, my internal nag keeps my butt in the chair. She's relentless.

Cari Hislop said...

I'd flunk Jeopardy. I had to look up my own font type!

1)If I know a chapter has a certain scene (I'm a mega pantser) I might have an idea of a chapter's length, but usually I've no idea. Sometimes my chapters are really short sometimes they're long. It just depends on the scene. If I need to enter a different character's head to propel the story forward but only need to know what they're thinking or doing for a page and a be it. I self publish so there's no one to tell I can't. ;)

2)Times New Roman 12...though with my new Apple there's a nice easy size increasing its 12 blown up larger so I don't have to wear my glasses.

3)Computer word count...what a heavenly invention. It sure does beat doing it by hand after writing something on an old typewriter.

4)I'm a loner-writer, but I'm getting better at self-editing. I question every sentence, every word...if they don't push the story forward they get the chop.

5) How do I keep myself writing? It's the only way to find out how the story ends. I'm invariably surprised which is sad considering some take four years to write. It's like reading a novel, really, really slowly. I've finally seen the light for both the stories I've been working on the last year and a half and the shorter one has really surprised me. The ending is totally different than I thought it would be, and better.

Louisa Cornell said...

Callie, I like your take on getting back to the joy of writing. And editor in one of the spotlights I attended at Nationals said the very same thing. She said you can't worry about trends, just write the book of your heart and enjoy it.

Louisa Cornell said...


You? Stubborn? Nah !! LOL Yes, you are and that is why you WILL make it!

Louisa Cornell said...

Christine, I think you have hit upon a fundamental truth about writers. We are all NUTS !! And I have to agree that I have put in too much time and money and sweat to give up now!

Louisa Cornell said...

Jeanie, you need to pass that internal nag around, sister!

I like the idea of a word count for each chapter.

Louisa Cornell said...

Cari, I LOVE that! Why do you keep writing? Because it is the only way to find out how the story ends! That is a GREAT reason to write! Stealing that and putting it on a post it on my desk!

M.V.Freeman said...

So Cool Louisa,
I have to answer the questions. :-)

1. I have goal what has to be accomplished there. Sometimes I only get a bit of it in, but when it ends...I just know it. It can be 10 pages or 20.

2. Times New Roman. (Courier makes me lose interest in reading and writing..weird I know)

3. I'm lazy. I take the computer word count.

4. I have more than one Critique partner and it took me years to find them. They all offer something different--One picks it apart minutely, another keeps me on track, another writes and understands what I write, another asks all the right questions, and others help me brainstorm. (Their help changes as my needs change...and I give the same back to them) I used to try to do it alone, but I found I wrote myself into a frustrated corner. These lovely people help me relax, think, and the best part--tell me the truth and I trust them. I give them the same respect.

5. I write, because it is a drive to do so. I have to take a bit from Callie and from Cari. I write the stories I want to read, that I enjoy. Plus I want to get to the end. Finally--If I give up, I only have myself to blame. (and that just gets my stubborn side going).

Snakes and Cowboys--that makes sense. LOL