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It’s a (Tentatively Motivated) Timer Tuesday!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I posted this on Facebook yesterday:

If you’re curious, it’s from Story Idea #1 on the Story Ideas in Progress page.

I know it seems a little late in the year to be “starting” something, even if it’s something that I’ve done regularly on the blog in the past. But it’s never too late to get remotivated—especially since my main goal for 2017 was to regain the desire to write and to relearn how to have fun when writing. That single page is all I wrote yesterday, but I felt good while doing it. So I think I need to get back to some 1k1hr timed writing sprints to see if I can keep this motivation going. For now, I’m going to write longhand with a goal of at least one full notebook page—which is only a couple hundred words. But it’s more important that I get back into telling a story instead of worrying about all of the other stuff that goes with “writing,” which seems to be worse when I’m looking at it coming out on the computer screen.

If you’d like to participate in Timer Tuesday, you can set your own time that works best for you. I’ll most likely do mine around 7 PM US Central time this evening.

During this hour, you can work on a word-count goal, as is the original intent of the 1k1hr sprint, if you so desire. For those of us who are now looking at a goal of spending more time writing, the focus of that scheduled, uninterrupted hour isn’t trying to hit a word-count but just making sure we’re completely focused on something fiction-writing related for the entire hour with no distractions. Same goes for editing and revision, as well.


IT’S TIMER TUESDAY!

What time will you be doing your 1k1hr today? Or if you absolutely cannot do one full hour, how will you make sure you get at least one hour of writing-related work done today?

Remember, the more support (and accountability) there is, the more successful we’ll all be!

1k1h Tips for Success

  1. Prevent Interruptions.
    Let anyone within your household know that you need one uninterrupted hour to try to head off at the pass any interruptions.
  2. Set a Timer.
    This is most important. Don’t do this by just watching the clock. You’ll find yourself only watching the clock and not getting anything accomplished. Setting a timer allows you to forget about the time and concentrate fully on your project.
  3. Prepare Ahead of Time.
    Schedule your 1k1hr time far enough in advance (allow yourself at least an hour if not more) in order to start thinking about what you’re going to work on. Even if you’re doing something else until just about time to work, you can still use part of your brain to be thinking ahead as to what scene you’re going to write or what story idea you’re going to work on. Be sure to allow a few minutes before your work time starts in order to truly prepare, though.

    –For Sprint Writing: Re-read the last few pages you wrote (without editing/revising!) to get your head back into the story and figure out where you need to pick up. Review your outline and/or character pages in your Story Bible. If you’re going to be sprint writing, put all of that away so you don’t use those to procrastinate during the hour.

    –For Project Time: If you’re focused on building time rather than word-count, surround yourself with all of these things in order to keep from having to stop to find stuff as you work. The more things you have that will spark your creativity and present new ideas to you, the better.

  4. Music:
    –For Sprint Writing: If you listen to music while writing (I recommend instrumental so that you don’t get distracted by the lyrics), have it set up and playing before starting your timer. Use earphones, even if you’re working at home, to block out any sounds that might pull you out of your story.

    –For Project Time: Have you considered setting up a “playlist” for your story/idea? Do you have a theme song for each of your main characters? How does/could music play into your story idea/character development. (See this post for an example.)

  5. Wear Earphones.
    If you can’t listen to music while writing/working, I recommend wearing the earphones anyway. People are less likely to interrupt you (at home or working somewhere like a coffee shop) if you have them in/on—and they help block out other distracting sounds.
  6. Prepare Your Work Space.
    Make sure your work space (both physical and mental) is set up and ready to go before you start your timer, whether your sprint writing or working on a writing-related project for the hour. In other words, make sure that about five to ten minutes before you start the 1k1h time begins, you’re in the process of getting ready to work.
  7. Eliminate all distractions!
    Silence or turn off your cell phone (unless you’re using it as your timer—then don’t turn it off, just put your phone in Airplane Mode; or if there are people who may absolutely need to get in touch with you—spouse, kids, etc.—set up your Do Not Disturb with exceptions for those few people.). Close your Internet browser. Close Facebook and Twitter. Close your email program if you use something like Outlook that isn’t web-based.

Can’t figure out how to get started sprint writing? Check out one of the previous Timer Tuesday posts for ideas.

Don’t forget to check in with your progress and how you do with your own 1k1hr writing/project time today!

It’s 2017 Reading Challenge Check-in Time!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Happy First Monday of December, everyone
How did the end of the year happen so fast?

I haven’t done one of these in a long time, so instead of trying to cover the months I’ve missed, let’s check in with our progress on our 2017 reading challenges: where we are, if we’ve met our goals, and—if not—what we need in order to meet them.

It’s 2017 Reading Challenge Check-in Time!

Open Book by Dave Dugdale

Open Book by Dave Dugdale


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Tell us what your goal(s) for 2017 was, what you’ve finished since the beginning of the challenge, what you’re currently reading, and what’s on your To Be Read stack/list in order to complete your challenge (or try to, anyway). And if you’re on Goodreads or another platform where you keep track of all this, please share the link!

To format your text, click here for an HTML cheat-sheet. If you want to embed your links in your text (like my “click here” links) instead of just pasting the link into your comment, click here.
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  • What reading challenge(s) did you set for yourself in 2017?
  • Where are you when it comes to reaching your challenge goal(s)?
  • What are you currently reading, and what’s next on your To Be Read stack/list in order to complete your challenge(s)?

From my post on January 4, 2017:
“As I’ve done for the past several years, I’ve set this year’s goal by simply adding one to the previous year’s total. That puts me at a goal of 65 titles to be read in 2017 (an average of 5.4 titles per month). . . . my goal this year is to read at least two authors’ books for each letter of the alphabet. (X being optional, since it’s hard to come by authors with names starting with X, though I may extend it to first names just to get that one in.)”

2017-gr-reading-challenge

And here’s where I stand as of 12/4/17. I’ve already met my overall goal of 65 books (which can include novellas and short stories).

I need the following to complete my A to Z challenge:
Q – 1 book
U – 1 book
V – 1 book
(X – 2 books, optional)
Y – 1 book
Z – 1 book

Library Haul | Thanksgiving Holiday 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What’s this? A new post after so many weeks of silence? No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. I’m finally posting something, with more activity to come—my biggest goal for 2018. But to ease back into it, here’s what I’ve checked out from the library—a bunch of titles to choose from for reading during the Thanksgiving holiday and to try to round out my A–Z reading challenge for 2017.

I don’t know about you, but when it’s time to check books out from the library, it’s kind of like a Lay’s potato chip thing—I can never “eat” just one. And since I never know for sure exactly what I’m going to feel like reading at any given moment, I always check out multiple options at a time.

These days, this entails hours spent on the part of my local libraries’ websites where all of the digital items are cataloged, as I’m going to be checking out ebooks and/or audiobooks. Not only is it easier to carry around library books/audiobooks when they’re digital, but since they return themselves automatically when the due-date arrives, I never have to worry about overdue books anymore! And since moving to a new city, I now have access to two public library systems—which means I can check out up to 25 titles at a time.


My Library Haul for the Thanksgiving Holiday

Audiobooks

The Bet (The Bet #1) by Rachel Van Dyken, narrated by Tanya Eby
Currently Listening

      “I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake-so be it.

      But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear—she never should have accepted Jake’s deal.

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, narrated by Mandy Williams

      Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her 16th birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.

      Sent to live with her only surviving relative, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that long-suppressed, dangerous magic runs through her veins, and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl. Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.

      An intricately plotted and completely satisfying adventure, The False Princess is both an engaging tale in the tradition of great fantasy novels and a story never told before that will enchant—and surprise—its listeners.

The Black Country (Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad #2) by Alex Grecian, narrated by Toby Leonard Moore

      The British Midlands. It’s called the “Black Country” for a reason. Bad things happen there.

      When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard’s new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they’re about to get into. The villagers have intense, intertwined histories. Everybody bears a secret. Superstitions abound. And the village itself is slowly sinking into the mines beneath it.

      Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help. In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave.

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas, narrated by Philip Battley

      After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

      Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Ebooks
The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) by Kady Cross

      In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

      When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

      Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

      Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

      But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

The Pirate Bride by Shannon Drake

      Those who survive the wrath of Red Robert would never guess the pirate’s secret—Red Robert is a woman, masquerading as a man. Yet though the swift steel of her sword has spread her reputation to the farthest corners of the map, there is only one treasure she seeks—the blood of her lifelong nemesis . . . Blair Colm.

      Shipwrecked on a desert isle with the handsome Logan Hagarty, she soon rediscovers her femininity in the irresistible captain’s arms. But their paradise skies darken with the appearance of their common enemy. Now the two must summon all their strength and cunning to best the evil Colm, and protect the fierce love that has grown between them.

Cecilia and the Stranger by Liz Ireland

      Trussed up in tweed and a suitably righteous manner, Jake Reed hoped he’d pass as a schoolmaster long enough to elude the gunman on his trail. But with Cecilia Summertree, the prettiest—and the nosiest—schoolmarm in the West dodging his every move, he was having a hard time keeping his mind on the classroom….

      Cecilia knew exactly what she’d always wanted. The freedom to do what she pleased, when she pleased. Though in all her reckoning she’d never considered meeting someone like Jake Reed. A man determined to teach her that there were a few important things missing in her life, and one of them was him!

Captain Grey’s Christmas Proposal by Carla Kelly

      Captain Grey had been fighting malarial fever in Savannah when he met Theodora Winnings. He proposed by letter—but it’s taken ten years to receive her reply. The answer was “yes!”—but is she still free to become his Christmas bride?

Marriage of Mercy by Carla Kelly

      From riches to rags, Grace has had to swallow her pride and get a job as a baker. But everything changes when she’s the beneficiary of a surprise inheritance.Her benefactor’s deal comes with a catch: give up her life of toil and live in luxury only if she marries his illegitimate son, a prisoner of war. It’s an offer she can’t afford to refuse. But her husband-to-be is dying, and he begs her to take one of his men instead—to marry purely out of mercy….

      A marriage of convenience with a complete stranger . . . Could this arrangement ever work?

Puritan Bride by Anne O’Brien

      England, 1663

      The sexual games at the restoration Court of King Charles have turned Marcus, Viscount Marlbrooke, into a cynic. While he doesn’t believe that love lies within matrimony, he does need to secure his claim to Winteringham Priory.

      Marriage to the spirited Puritan Katherine Harley is the key and, given his unexpected response to her, perhaps their marriage needn’t be as bleak as he fears. Because, beneath he solemn exterior, her senses a bride of surprising passion…

Bound by Love by Rosemary Rogers

      The illegitimate daughter of the Russian czar, Leonida arrives at the estate of Stefan, the Duke of Huntley, with secrets…and a mission. Searching for covert documents sequestered in Stefan’s massive library, she is the perfect guest—and the perfect spy.

      Fascinated by her flawless beauty and her intriguing air of mystery, Stefan draws intimately closer…and Leonida, bound by duty to her family and country, finds herself utterly captivated. Yet as danger and desire meet in a tangled web of espionage and deceit, the two will face a choice that can be made only by love itself.

Lord Braybrook’s Penniless Bride by Elizabeth Rolls

      Miss Christiana Daventry will do whatever it takes to keep from being thrown out on the streets–even accept the insufferably attractive Lord Braybrook’s proposition!Julian Trentham, Viscount Braybrook, urgently needs to hire a governess and companion, and Christy is conveniently available. Headstrong, with charmingly mismatched eyes and soft tawny hair, Christy is unlike any woman he has ever encountered. But there is something so deliciously endearing about her that Julian quickly forgets how scandalous it would be to give in to the mounting attraction for his penniless governess.

Chained to the Barbarian by Carol Townend

      HER WARRIOR SLAVE

      Bound in chains, enslaved barbarian Sir William Bradfer stands proud in the Constantinople slave market. As a warrior, he’s trained in the art of survival. Lady-in-waiting Anna of Heraklea is betrothed to be married—against her will. Catching sight of the magnificent William, she finds a rebellious half plan forming in her mind. Anna can offer this captured knight freedom in return for his hand in marriage!

The Unexpected Bride by Debra Ullrick

      After the disaster of his first marriage, Haydon Bowen has no intention of marrying again. Unfortunately, his brother has some intentions of his own, and plans to see to it that Haydon finds happiness once more. So he answers a “groom wanted” advertisement–in Haydon’s name–and sends Haydon to meet his new bride at the stagecoach stop!

      For beautiful, cultured Rainelle Devonwood, any dangers she may face in the Idaho Territories are preferable to staying with her abusive brother. So even when Rainee learns she’s a mistakenly ordered bride, she won’t let Haydon drive her away. She’s up to the challenge of life on the difficult, demanding frontier…and the greater challenge of opening Haydon’s heart again.

Surviving Scotland by Kristin Vayden

      Ioan is handsome… until he opens his mouth. How can someone so masculine and striking be so irritating? Yet part of her knows that if his sarcastic and teasing temper changed, she will lose her heart.

      Elle is untouchable. His quick-witted barbs keep her at arm’s length. She can never know the truth. But like a moth drawn to the flame he can’t resist her. Indeed he already burned.

      When the Jacobites attack Carnasserie castle, the Black Watch come to assist. Surviving Scotland isn’t for the faint of heart…

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y’Barbo

      This Wild West adventure just might be the life she was meant to live.

      The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

      As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past—and disgruntled miners bent on revenge—will take that choice away from her.

What do you have checked out from the library to try?

#Library Haul for the Week of 09/24/17 | #amreading

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I don’t know about you, but when it’s time to check books out from the library, it’s kind of like a Lay’s potato chip thing—I can never “eat” just one. And since I never know for sure exactly what I’m going to feel like reading at any given moment, I always check out multiple options at a time.

These days, this entails hours spent on the part of my local library’s website where all of the digital items are cataloged, as I’m going to be checking out ebooks and/or audiobooks. Not only is it easier to carry around ten library books/audiobooks when they’re digital, but since they return themselves automatically when the due-date arrives, I never have to worry about overdue books anymore!

Since I just returned a bunch of books and checked out another group this weekend, I thought it might be fun to share my haul. And I’d love to see yours, too!

My Library Haul for the week of 09/24/17

Audiobooks

Victoria: A Life by A. N. Wilson, narrated by Clive Chafer
Currently Listening

      When Queen Victoria died in 1901, she had ruled for nearly sixty-four years. She was a mother of nine and grandmother of forty-two and the matriarch of royal Europe through her children’s marriages. To many, Queen Victoria is a ruler shrouded in myth and mystique, an aging, stiff widow paraded as the figurehead to an all-male imperial enterprise. But in truth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch was one of the most passionate, expressive, humorous and unconventional women who ever lived, and the story of her life continues to fascinate.

      A. N. Wilson’s exhaustively researched and definitive biography includes a wealth of new material from previously unseen sources to show us Queen Victoria as she’s never been seen before. Wilson explores the curious set of circumstances that led to Victoria’s coronation, her strange and isolated childhood, her passionate marriage to Prince Albert and his pivotal influence even after death and her widowhood and subsequent intimate friendship with her Highland servant John Brown, all set against the backdrop of this momentous epoch in Britain’s history — and the world’s.

      Born at the very moment of the expansion of British political and commercial power across the globe, Victoria went on to chart a unique course for her country even as she became the matriarch of nearly every great dynasty of Europe. Her destiny was thus interwoven with those of millions of people — not just in Europe but in the ever-expanding empire that Britain was becoming throughout the nineteenth century. The famed queen had a face that adorned postage stamps, banners, statues and busts all over the known world.

      Wilson’s Victoria is a towering achievement, a masterpiece of biography by a writer at the height of his powers.

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

      This is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, a widely acclaimed work based on the actual murder, in 1831, of a progressive mill owner. It follows Mary Barton, daughter of a man implicated in the murder, through her adolescence, when she suffers the advances of the mill owner, and later through love and marriage. Set in Manchester, between 1837-42, it paints a powerful and moving picture of working-class life in Victorian England.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, narrated by the author

      Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

      Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.

      Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

      Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Ebooks
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

      The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

      When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

      With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

The Pirate Next Door (Regency Pirates #1) by Jennifer Ashley

      Mayfair, London, 1810: Alexandra Alastair, a respectable young English widow, wonders if she dare add the new viscount who’s moved in next door to her list of potential husbands.

      He certainly doesn’t look like the gentlemen on her list—Grayson Finley, Viscount Stoke, is tall and sun-bronzed, muscular and blue-eyed. He wears dress so casual as to be unclothed—long coats, leather breeches, shirts without collar or cravat, and he carries pistols wherever he goes. The men who attend him are just as strange, exotic-looking, even. And the way Grayson smiles at Alexandra whenever they pass in the street—sinful, blood-warming—turns her inside out.

      In the middle of the night Alexandra hears shouting coming from the house next door, and the viscount’s life being threatened. She rushes over just in time to save Grayson from being hanged by his greatest enemy, his former best friend.

      Thus is Alexandra pulled into the adventures of Grayson Finley, former pirate and terror of the seas. Grayson has made a bargain with the devil (in the form of the pirate hunter, James Ardmore), in order to ensure the safety of his daughter. He’ll do anything to keep her safe, but when Alexandra saves his life, he looks into her eyes the color of water and starts to drown . . .

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides #1) by Jennifer Ashley

      The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

      The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

      Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

      And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster

      Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to the planet Circarpous. But he discovered that hidden on the planet was the Kaiburr crystal, a mysterious gem that would give the one who possessed it such powers over the Force that he would be all but invincible. In the wrong hands, the crystal could be deadly. So Luke had to find this treasure and find it fast.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley

      If you write, you know what it’s like. Insight and creativity – the desire to push the boundaries of your writing – strike when you least expect it. And you’re often in no position to act: in the shower, driving the kids to school…in the middle of the night. The 3 A.M. Epiphany offers more than 200 intriguing writing exercises designed to help you think, write, and revise like never before, without having to wait for creative inspiration. Brian Kiteley, noted author and director of the University of Denver’s creative writing program, has crafted and refined these exercises through 15 years of teaching experience.

      You’ll learn how to:
      * Transform staid and stale writing patterns into exciting experiments in fiction
      * Shed the anxieties that keep you from reaching your full potential as a writer
      * Craft unique ideas by combining personal experience with unrestricted imagination
      * Examine and overcome all of your fiction writing concerns, from getting started to writer’s block

      Open the book, select an exercise, and give it a try. It’s just what you need to craft refreshing new fiction, discover bold new insights, and explore what it means to be a writer. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START – NOT EVEN 3 A.M.

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich

      This book details the elements of writing and publishing a novel, and addresses all categories of fiction–from mystery/thriller/action titles to romance; from stand-alone narratives to series. It offers practical and inspiring advice on such subjects as structuring a plot and handling rejection. And it combines one of today’s most successful fiction writers with a published non-fiction writer who teaches creative fiction. HOW I WRITE is the perfect reference for anyone looking to improve their writing, and for those fans who are hungry to find out more about just how Janet Evanovich ticks.

The Anatomist’s Wife (Lady Darby Mystery #1) by Anna Lee Huber

      Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

      Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage–a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

      When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim.

What do you have checked out from the library to try?

#FirstDraft90: Days 1-30 Prep Work Schedule

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Welcome to FirstDraft90!

Whether you’re planning to write your own story during the next ninety days, or you’re just following along with my progress, August 1 is the beginning of the process.

As in each first-draft challenge I’ve done in the past, the first thirty days is all about the prep work. In order to make sure that we can start writing the first draft on Day 31 with as much momentum as possible, each day for the next thirty days will have specific tasks to complete in order to get to know our characters, our plot, and our story world as much as possible. This should allow us to write more freely (and faster) later.

If you’d like, you can follow the original prep schedule for FirstDraft60/120, which you can find here or by clicking the FirstDraft60 link near the top of the website (if you’re on a mobile device, the link could be down below the post).

Because I’ve now done this a couple of times, I’ve modified the schedule to something that I hope will suit my process a little better—especially since I’ve already written detailed story ideas (I still have a few minutes in which to choose one before it’s officially August 1) and done a microscopic amount of preliminary research for each one.

My Schedule for 30 Days of Prep

Day 1 (Tuesday 8/1): Create a OneNote notebook for the story with the following pages/sections:
Revisions Notebook, Style Sheet, and Research Repository
Story Bible—Characters, Setting, Props

Day 2 (Wednesday 8/2): Story Structure & Timeline

Day 3 (Thursday 8/3): Continue/Finish Story Structure & Timeline

Day 4 (Friday 8/4): Complete Structure/Timeline, if needed. Create lists of all characters, setting; create style guide

Day 5 (Saturday 8/5): Four Character Building Questions

Day 6 (Sunday 8/6): Hero SHAPE Chart

Day 7 (Monday 8/7): Heroine SHAPE Chart

Day 8 (Tuesday 8/8): Timer TuesdayDraft Write opening scene of Novella

Day 9 (Wednesday 8/9): Update Story Bible

Day 10 (Thursday 8/10): Characters’ Physical Descriptions

Day 11 (Friday 8/11): Ambitions, Inducements, and Entanglements (GMC)

Day 12 (Saturday 8/12): Heroine Backstory

Day 13 (Sunday 8/13): Hero Backstory

Day 14 (Monday 8/14): Create Writing Schedule

Day 15 (Tuesday 8/15): Timer TuesdayDraft Write continuing scene from last Tuesday, or a different opening scene (no editing of work from last week allowed, only notes for changes in the revision notebook permitted)

Day 16 (Wednesday 8/16): Update Story Bible (and Skype with Mom for her birthday!)

Day 17 (Thursday 8/17): Rewrite/revise story premise

Day 18 (Friday 8/18): Detailed story outline/storyboards/seven beats

Day 19 (Saturday 8/19): Write 25-, 50-, 150-, and 300-word marketing blurbs; revise premise/synopsis if needed

Day 20 (Sunday 8/20): Setting specifics: research, images, etc.

Day 21 (Monday 8/21): Research (era, events, costumes, etiquette, customs, etc.)

Day 22 (Tuesday 8/22): Timer TuesdayDraft Write continuing scene from last Tuesday, or a different opening scene (no editing of previous work allowed, only notes for changes in the revision notebook permitted)

Day 23 (Wednesday 8/23): Update Story Bible

Day 24 (Thursday 8/24): Storyboard all known scenes

Days 25–30 (Friday 8/25 — Wednesday 8/30): Review tasks and previous work and complete anything not yet finished; set up Pinterest board(s); collect images; review character info and add to or revise if needed; Timer Tuesday on 8/29 . . .

#FirstDraft90 Starts August 1! | #amwriting #FD90 #writingchallenge #writinggoals

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Because I unexpectedly decided to buy a house this year, a lot of my original goals for the first seven months had to be set aside in favor of house hunting, packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking (who am I kidding—the unpacking will be going on for quite some time!). Oh, and just when I thought I’d be able to get back on track in July, I had to travel for work and took in a foster dog.

But now August is almost upon us, which means there’s no time like the present to open up the calendar I set for myself at the beginning of the year and get on schedule with my goals for the rest of the year. And what did I have scheduled from August 1 to December 31, 2017? Why, planning, writing, and revising a novella! Which brings us to . . .

FirstDraft90: August–October 2017
Choosing a Story

The last time we did FirstDraft60/120, my main goal was to do something “writing related” every day. I didn’t quite reach that goal completely, but I did accomplish something pretty important—I wrote a whole bunch of story ideas. So my task for today and Monday is to figure out which story I want to work on beginning on Tuesday. The choices are:

Working title: Her Independent Heart
Eleanor Ransome would rather run away from her beloved home than face the man her parents want her to marry—the son of their closest friends, James Yates. James follows her to Philadelphia—but can he win her independent heart?
james-and-eleanor

James Yates = Arthur Darvill
Eleanor Ransome = Karen Gillan (adjusted for hair/eye color)

 

Working Title: Secrets of His Heart
Newly arrived in London, Edward Ransome, eldest son of British Naval Hero Sir William Ransome, is the toast of the town—and the most sought-after bachelor of the season. Clara Eckley-Hibbitt has been overlooked by society for her step-mother, Cordelia, ever since they came out together, leading Clara to bury herself in academic pursuits. Although Edward is dazzled by Cordelia, it’s Clara who creates sparks inside him—sparks of annoyance, irritation, vexation, and . . . delight. When a saboteur seems to be undermining Edward’s business, will it be Clara or Cordelia who will help him find the culprit—and discover the secrets of his heart?
hearts-secrets

Cordelia Pembroke Eckley-Hibbit = Holliday Grainger
Edward William Ransome = Tom Mison
Clara Eckley-Hibbitt = Catherine Steadman

 

Working Title: An Antiquities Affair
Olivia Ahern loves rocks. Old stones, to be exact. From the first time she saw Stonehenge to her many visits to the castle ruins on her family’s estate, Olivia has lived in a world in which the past is more real to her than the present. But the antiquarian society she founded in her village brings in an outsider to help uncover and protect a cache of ancient Roman artifacts that she discovered—he’s a hulk of a man with unfashionably long blond hair named Charles Lott Cochrane. Charles never wanted a war. But now he’s in the middle of one and must choose which side of the battle he’s really on. Will his focus on the past keep him from finding his future?
charles-and-olivia

Charles Lott Cochrane = Chris Hemsworth
Olivia Ahern = Elsa Pataky

 

Working Title: My Fair . . . Lady?
Michael Edward Witherington is traveling the Old World to find antiquities and treasures to send back to his family’s company in America. When he meets a beautiful, dark-haired young woman in Florence, Italy, he believes he’s finally found the woman of his dreams—a maid in the household of Colin and Susan Yates, the Earl and Countess of Childers. However, when he meets her again in London, he discovers that his Mary is actually the Lady Marianne Yates. Marianne didn’t mean to deceive Michael. But she’s also spent the last three years not knowing if the men asking for her hand want her or her family’s money and status. Can she convince Michael to forgive her—and see that she is the same person, no matter what name she answers to?
michael-and-marianne

Michael Witherington = Michiel Huisman
The Lady Marianne Yates = Sophie Turner

 

Working Title: When First We Met
Kit Cochrane left England four years ago after a potential suitor turned menacing, nearly strangling her when she turned down his proposal. It now seems safe for her to return and retake her place in society. Philip Grantly is grateful when Admiral Ned Cochrane, his commander from his last years in the Royal Navy, hires him to hunt down the man threatening the admiral’s daughter. However, the job takes on a new and more personal urgency when he realizes he’s falling in love with her. Can he protect her while also showing her how to trust—and love—again?
kit-and-philip

Catherine “Kit” Cochrane = Jessica de Gouw
Philip Grantly = Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Working Title: The Doctor and the Scotsman
Having successfully posed as a man in order to attend medical school, Adeline Witherington has arrived in a small Northern Kentucky town ready to take her place as “Dr. Henry Witherington.” It isn’t long before she discovers that one of the plantation owners, a burly Scotsman named Broderick McLaren, has a secret that could ruin him—and that she’s starting to develop feelings for him. When Adeline’s true identity is revealed to the community, can marrying Brodie save her—and the people they’ve both sworn to protect?
brodie-and-adeline

Adeline Henrietta “Henry” Witherington = Jaimie Alexander
Broderick McLaren = Sullivan Stapleton

Working Title: Learning to Love
The tenements and dockyards of Boston are full to overflowing with Irish immigrants in the summer of 1848. Recovering from a life-threatening wound suffered in the war with Mexico, Captain Jack Witherington does his best to avoid the crowds of Irishmen begging him for work at the Charlestown Navy Yard—until one day he falls victim to a brutal attack. Ellen Delaney rescues the handsome naval officer and takes him home to her doctor father to recover. Can Ellen, a teacher in the Irish charity school, teach Jack to set his prejudice aside? Or will Jack allow this latest trauma to stop him from trusting, or loving, anyone again—even Ellen?
jack-and-ellen

John Charles “Jack” Witherington = Luke Macfarlane
Ellen Delaney = Hannah James

Working Title: Her Rebellious Heart
In the summer of 1848, London’s working class are nearing a boiling point, which could lead to the same kind of violence seen in the Newport Uprising ten years before. Celebrated for his accomplishments in infiltrating and bringing down several smuggling/crime rings in London and Portsmouth, Metropolitan Policeman Edmund Cochrane is assigned to find and infiltrate the resurgence of Chartists in order to waylay another violent riot. After literally sweeping her off her feet—to save her from a runaway carriage—Edmund is invited to a meeting for the “working men of London” by Abigail Bradford—niece of the leader of the London Chartists. It isn’t long before Edmund has completely fallen for the feisty Abigail. If he acts on these feelings, he’ll put the investigation at risk. But he can’t keep lying to Abigail about his true motivations and the reason for his presence in her life. When Edmund’s identity is revealed, he’s set upon and brutally beaten. With his life in the balance, can Abby forgive his deception, put aside her rebelliousness, and let love reform her heart?

Edmund James Cochrane = Liam Hemsworth
Abigail Bradford = Jennifer Lawrence

Working Title: To Capture His Heart
By chance—because they saw a Wanted poster with a reward listed and they desperately needed the money—Valeria Amador and her two brothers became some of the best Vigilantes in California. With one last capture, the three will have enough to purchase land and build homes for themselves. So when they see a wanted posted looking for Dr. Frederick Ransome, they set a trap for the snake-oil salesman whose counterfeit medicines have left a trail of fatalities behind him. When Val meets a man calling himself Dr. Frederick Ransome, she admits he doesn’t look like the drawing on the poster. But she and her brothers are so close to their goal, she agrees to take him in and let the judge figure it out. Soon, though, she finds herself believing him and trying to convince her brothers of his innocence. She finally convinces them to detour to a town that leveled a complaint about him to see if they can identify him as the con artist. Will Freddie and Val be able to find the culprit before a rival group of vigilantes, known for delivering their prey dead more often than alive, finds Freddie and takes the law into their own hands?

Frederick Ransome = Ben Aldridge
Valeria Amador = Gal Gadot

_____________________________________________________________

Feel free to vote for your favorite in the comments!

Tomorrow, I’ll share my schedule for the thirty days of story planning.

Some Thoughts on What Liberty Means to Me | #IndependenceDay #July4

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

Methodist credo attributed to John Wesley

What Liberty Means to Me
I can’t choose what other people do;
. . . . I can only choose what I do.

I can’t choose what other people say;
. . . . I can only choose what I say.

I can’t choose how other people act;
. . . . I can only choose how I act.

I can’t choose how others treat me;
. . . . I can only choose how I treat others.

I can’t choose what others believe or how they worship;
. . . . I can only choose what I believe and how I will worship.

I can’t choose how politics influences society;
. . . . I can only choose how I might have an influence on society.

I can’t choose whether other people are angry;
. . . . I can only choose not to exacerbate that anger by becoming angry myself.

I can’t choose who wins elections;
. . . . I can only choose to educate myself on candidates and VOTE.

I can’t choose others’ morals and ethics;
. . . . I can only choose how moral and ethical I am.

I can’t choose what others do with their bodies, their lives, their careers, their homes, their families;
. . . . I can only choose what to do with mine.

I can’t choose whom others love;
. . . . I can only choose to love others.

Anger Is a Gift . . . But We Don’t Have to Accept It

It is said that one day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake!”

The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

from http://fakebuddhaquotes.com/fake-but-not-fake-the-art-of-storytelling/

Why did I quote something from a website that has “fake” right there in the name? Because it goes so well with what comes before it. And because it goes so well with this quote:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Avoid what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21


True liberty can be found only when we stop trying to control and make choices for others and we concentrate on making ourselves the best, most loving people we can possibly be.

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