Here we are, only a few days before March’s book-in-a-month Speedbo challenge ends. Where did the time go?.If you participated, right about now you’re probably feeling one of the following:.Triumphant:Woo hoo! Things are going great beyond your ...

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"Seekerville" - 5 new articles

  1. Speedbo Countdown! Getting Yourself to The End with a "Quick Win"
  2. When Do You Need An Editor?
  3. Deadline Tales from the Trenches
  4. The Weekend Edition
  5. Best of the Archives: Write the Scene
  6. More Recent Articles

Speedbo Countdown! Getting Yourself to The End with a "Quick Win"


Here we are, only a few days before March’s book-in-a-month Speedbo challenge ends. Where did the time go?
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If you participated, right about now you’re probably feeling one of the following:
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Triumphant:Woo hoo! Things are going great beyond your wildest dreams!
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Enjoying Yourself: You’re not quite “there” as far as meeting your goal, but you’ve made respectable strides and, above all, you’re having a little FUN!
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Sorta Enjoying Yourself: This was harder than you imagined it would be, BUT you’re making some progress that feels good. Most days, anyway.
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Not Enjoying Yourself Much At All: You bit off more than you can chew by setting unrealistic expectations. So no matter what progress you’re making, you find yourself comparing it to the original (maybe misguided?) goal--which steals away your sense of accomplishment no matter how far you’ve come.
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Bottomed Out: Anything that could go wrong, went wrong. Kids (or you) got sick. Day job overtime skyrocketed. Your computer caught a virus. You wrote yourself into a story corner and can’t find your way out. Or you stumbled across a published book with a similar storyline and the other author wrote it far better than you think you’ll ever be able to.
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Maybe you’re feeling a combination of ALL of the above!?
So, with just a few days of March remaining, how can you end the month on a positive note no matter where your feelings are at the moment?
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Putting things in perspective is a given. The world doesn’t end on March 31. But what if you haven’t even come close to where you’d hoped to be and feel as if you’ll be limping across the finish line? Or you’ve ALREADY thrown in the towel?
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That’s where establishing a “Quick Win” for these final days may make all the difference in how you feel about this month’s efforts.
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Yeah, “quick wins” are customarily established at the beginning of something—say, for a new employee or a new project to get things rolling on a positive note. It serves as a motivator and fends off frustration. But there’s no law that says that even though you may be weary and even a little bit disappointed in your progress that you can’t set a “quick win” here at the midnight hour.
Time’s limited, of course, so it’s important to be level-headed. No letting your eyes get bigger than your stomach stuff. You need to rationally pick a realistic mini-goal that you know you can complete, one that will energize you. One that is FUN. One that no matter how successful or less than successful this month’s efforts have been, it’s something that will leave you crossing into April with a smile of satisfaction.
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As Seeker Tina always points out “What have you done TODAY to make your dream come true?” What’s a dream “quick win” that will spark your imagination and energize you for the final days of Speedbo?
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It may—or possibly may not (GASP!)—be related to your original goal.
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It could be pushing on to write The End. Or skipping ahead to write the First Kiss or The Black Moment or the final scene. Maybe it’s drafting a query letter to an editor or agent. Maybe it’s writing a back cover blurb for your story—just for fun. Maybe it’s polishing up that first chapter. Or brainstorming titles. Or…or…or….
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It’s up to YOU. Will you slink out of the month…or gallop into the next?
Please share with us today where YOUR feelings are about the past month. What is a “quick win” you plan to apply to the remaining days of the Speedbo challenge? Any advice you can offer to those who are feeling discouraged about the level of their own progress? Any ideas they could apply for a “quick win”?
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If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my next Love Inspired, “The Nanny Bargain,” mention it in the comments section, then check the Weekend Edition to see if you’re a winner!
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Glynna
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GLYNNA KAYEtreasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--and vacations spent with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the times a houseful of great-aunts and great-uncles gathered with her grandma to share candid, heartwarming, poignant and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Her Love Inspired books--Pine Country Cowboy and High Country Holiday--won first and second place, respectively, in the 2015 RWA Faith, Hope & Love Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards. Appearing on the shelves later in April is “The Nanny Bargain” and in October 2017 “Mountain Country Cowboy.”
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The Nanny Bargain. Concerned for his orphaned twin brothers, outdoor-gear shop owner Sawyer Banks urges new employee Tori Janner to apply for the nanny position their grandparents are advertising…and spy for him. With plans to start over in Hunter Ridge and dreams of reviving her quilting business, Tori takes the job—but refuses to report to Sawyer unless the boys' welfare is in danger. But soon it's her own heart that's in jeopardy. Because after spending time with the committed bachelor, she starts to see the depth behind his easy charm—and begins to imagine herself as his wife. Pre-order HERE!
      

When Do You Need An Editor?

Sandra here to talk about the important issue of editing your work before you put it out there.  I have been indie publishing my back list. It has been so rewarding that I have even published some first edition novellas. This is very exciting, but also requires diligent responsibilities. So I brought along a special guest to talk about the types of editing available.

To present a novel that looks and reads professional, it helps to hire professional help. I am totally not talented with artistic gifts, so I have enjoyed the help of graphic artists to design my book covers.

I am publishing a second edition of Where The Eagle Flies that was in the Seeker novella collection With This Kiss. I hired Debora Lewis to design the cover. She is a friend I met at the Society of Southwestern Authors meeting here in Tucson. Don't you love the cover?

Ready for preorder from Amazon (shameless promotion)


Debora also did a new cover for my novella set in Spain. I had a cover with Christmas hearts but when selling this at craft fairs, people commented that they thought it was an inspirational book rather than a romance. Our friend Vince, after reading the novella, informed me that it needed a cover that showed it was a romance and suggested using the characters on the beach with their horses. Don't you love this cover? If you haven't read A Heart Full of Hope yet, you can order it here.

Available on Amazon (another shameless plug)


Another important professional that I hire is an editor. I usually hire a content editor and then a line editor. Do you know the difference?

Rachelle Rea Cobb is an author friend of mine and she is also an editor. I asked her some questions about the difference between content editing and line editing. Here is her response:




1.  What is the difference between content editing and line editing?

I'm so glad you asked! I hear this question all the time, and the good news is the answer is really quite simple: line editing is surface-level, and content editing digs deep. When I'm line-editing, I correct typos, fix grammar problems, and ensure the text is as clean as can be. But when I'm content-editing,  I do all that I just mentioned about line-editing, plus I look at plot development, characterization, and story structure. I smooth transitions, point out what is gold and suggest areas where text can be tightened or expanded for clarity. Content editing, obviously, is my favorite, because I get to polish each page until it shines.



2.  Are there other terms for these types of editing? 

Yes! Line editing can also be referred to as copyediting or proofreading. Content editing can also be referred to as substantive editing or deep editing. There are probably many more terms, too, but most editing falls into these two basic categories. 


3.  What should we look for when hiring a line editor?

Look for someone with a great eye for detail. You want someone able to spot an extra space between words, who can easily identify when two hyphens are masquerading as an em-dash-and someone who is vigilant about eradicating any and all typos from your work.


4. What things should we ask a content editor to do?

Be ruthless. I always appreciate when a client approaches me with a teachable attitude; they tell me they want their project to be the best it can possibly be so they give me permission to point out any and all areas that I feel could use improvement. This frees me to do my job and lets me know this writer is serious about making their words work!


5. Why is it important to hire a line editor?

When doing a line edit, I ensure each page is polished and professional. This means that whether you are sending that query letter to an editor or uploading that manuscript straight to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can be confident it is clean and ready to go. The next reader after your line editor will expect perfection and be peeved by typos they find--they may even stop reading! Make sure this doesn't happen by hiring a line editor.


Thank you Rachelle for your wonderful insights. I do think it is so important to hire an editor before publishing your work. You don't want a reader to get turned off by poor spelling, grammar and content mistakes. 

I also think its important to hire an editor before submitting to a major house for the first time. Sure traditional publishers have their own editors, but their editors are swamped and they are going to be more inclined to buy a manuscript that needs little work than one that is going to require a lot of editing time on their part.

Rachelle has a new book that released March 4th that will be a real help and resource for writers.  Write Well - A Grammar Guide offers tips for the most common grammar issues.  She is also releasing a new resource (free) called 7 Quick Fixes for Common Writing Mistakes.  This offer can be found here on her website and is free.






Thanks again for joining us today Rachelle.  Rachelle will be onboard today if you have any questions for her specifically.  


BIO: Rachelle Rea Cobb has history with words. She penned her first short story in middle school, her first novel right out of high school, and signed a three-book publishing contract right after college for her Steadfast Love Series. But she believes writing isn't all heart and art; it's structure and syntax, too. One of her favorite things to do is help others polish their own pages until they shine. 

She lives in a seaside Southern town with her new husband, who shares the name of Rachelle's first fictional hero - even though she hadn't yet met her husband when she wrote three books about a man with the same first name.  She blogs when inspiration strikes. She loves to hear from her readers, and you can reach her via Rachelle@RachelleReaCobb.com.

Today I've picked some yummy oranges off my tree as this is when they are their sweetest. Please help ourself and enjoy some hot coffee, tea or cocoa. 



I will be offering e-copies of Rachelle's book, Write Well to five writers who comment today. For readers who comment. , I will offer a print version of one of my novellas.  Please indicate in your comment if you want the writer gift or the reader gift. Thank you. 








Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.






FOUR DAYS LEFT



      

Deadline Tales from the Trenches


Day 27 of Speedbo. Once again this is your reminder that Speedbo isn't simply about writing a book. It's about challenging your personal status quo. Your norm. Your comfort zone. 

 Speedbo is about changing your future. You can do much more than you realize and with God's help, your vision can come to pass. "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or imagine." Ephesians 3:20-21



Just so you know that you aren't alone, I bring you deadline tales from the trenches. Tales from some of your favorite authors.


Had to be a God thing... I was six weeks from deadline with a book that was not working. After I realized the prince and my heroine had yet to meet and I was on page 192 (ha!) I started over again! But I could muscle up and do it. I had a good feel for what I needed to do. It would take 5k words a day to get it rewritten and submitted on time, or with the few days of grace offered by my editor, but I could do it. Then, bam! Menopause steamrolled into my life. Literally at 2:30 in the morning. I couldn't eat, sleep or think. I was tired, melancholy and at night, I'd tremble. Like a scared pup. Try to sleep when your heart is pounding and your body is quaking! This left me exhausted and as creative as a rock. Worse, I didn't care. I wanted to quit. I'd lay on the Florida room couch in the morning's wee hours and imagine calling my publisher to tell her, "I quit. Done. Outta here." Then I'd wait for the peace to come. It never did. Not in those moments. Only when I said, "Okay God, I'll stick with it." Then the tiniest sliver of light broke through my hormone soaked darkness. Every day, I'd climb the stairs to my office and write 5K words. I had no idea if they were any good. I'd cry in the middle of a scene. And not because the story was so touching. Because I was a mess. With the support of my husband and my publisher, and my writing partners Susan May Warren and Beth Vogt, I lived to write another day. That book went on to earn a Starred Review from Booklist. God, in the midst of my extreme weakness, was strong! He has my heart forever and ever! #keepwriting.  

Rachel Hauck, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author-The Wedding Shop.



It was a dark and stormy night, and my manuscript was due the next day. Hubby, my beta reader, plowed through the pages of the final draft and smiled when he came to the end. “I liked what I read,” he said. “Although I thought the scene you repeated worked better later in the story.” My eyes widened. “You read the same scene twice…in different sections of the manuscript?” He nodded and showed me where he had marked the pages. “Here’s the scene initially,” he said. Then he turned to a later chapter. “And here it is again.” Silly me! I had moved the scene, but I had failed to delete the original text. Thankfully, hubby caught the error. I corrected my mistake and, early the next morning, sent the story to my editor. Wonder what she would have thought about those duplicate scenes? Probably not much. Thanks to hubby, my deadline had a happy ending. 

-Debby Giusti. Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author. Amish Refuge.


While trying to meet one particularly challenging deadline when my kids were younger, they had gotten to point where every evening, one of them would see me at my computer and say, "So we're on our own for dinner again tonight?" :) When I finally turned that book in, you've never seen such happy faces as when I told them, "NO! You're not on your own! Tonight...we're going out to celebrate!" (Who could be expected to cook that first night back to real life?!) I have to say, though, that families are resilient. I don't think my kids are scarred from eating cereal and frozen pizzas near deadlines over the years. :) They're now young adults who are proud of their mom for battling through the tough times to pursue her dream.

- Missy Tippens. The Doctor's Second Chance.



Unfortunately, I have a reputation for writing "doorstopper novels" because my first five books averaged between 150,000 and 160,000 words each. But when my publisher's legal department pointed out my contract called for 120,000 words, my editor was forced to have me cut 50,000 words (almost one Love Inspired book!) from the final novel in the O'Connor saga ... uh, within weeks! How did I do it? I prayed realllllly hard and then whacked away with a machete, plots, and scenes flying everywhere. The good news? I learned I could edit anything in mere days, plus I ended up with a tighter story and two subplots I used in two novellas, so all's well that cuts well.

- Julie Lessman. A Glimmer of Hope (Free Download).


I’ve been on a constant deadline for almost 3 ½ years now. In those years I’ve written and edited 8 ½ books. The constant pressure has taught me a lot. I’ve always been a scatterbrained person prone to forget things. But honestly, I think the constant deadlines have made me more focused, and I actually forget fewer things than I did before I started getting contracts and having deadlines. I try not to make my family suffer just because I’m on a deadline, but they do pitch in a bit more when they know I’m behind and/or the deadline is drawing near.The main thing to suffer is my house. I can’t even tell you when I last did a thorough cleaning. Let’s just say that people are not welcome to just drop by and stay for a visit without weeks of prior notice!  

-Melanie Dickerson.  NYT Bestselling Author. A Viscount's Proposal.



Deadlines can be a tense time. For most deadlines, I don’t get too anxious. When I hit send, I usually feel pretty confident that I did my best. I know that I can still make changes in the round of edits. Except for the FINAL DEADLINE! That’s when anything I miss will be forever out there for the world read. Why’s it in caps? Because that’s when my anxiety reaches an all-time high and I tend to get a little intense. Thankfully, my family has learned to read the signs of Mom-in-deadline. Usually, this period is very short. Like a week. Most times it goes smoothly. But one time, when I was finishing up one of my books for my Amish Country Justice series, I hit a major technology snag. Okay, maybe not major, but it felt like it. I was plodding along when I suddenly saw that my word count had gone down. By around 100 words. Somehow, I had erased an entire conversation. A really important one. I tried the undo key. My cursor flew back to something I had typed pages earlier. My words were gone. I have no clue what happened. I was able to go back to an earlier draft and copy and paste the conversation back in. By that time, I was really panicking. What if I did it again, and didn’t know about it? I finished editing and then sent it off to my wonderful critique partners, who read it to make sure everything was in order and read smooth. They gave it thumbs up. I truly believe that God alerted me to the problem. 

-Dana R. Lynn. Plain Target.


I recently finished a novella for the Classified K-9 Unit continuity series, which started in March. The story is set at Christmas time and I had it in my head the word count was 35k. I’m a heavy plotter so when I was finished with my plot I thought, eek, I have too much story here, so I paired it down and work hard to make the story come in as close to 35k as I could. I ended up a thousand words over. But I was finished early which turned out to be a blessing because it turned out my word count was 30k. Ugh! I was 6k over.  I’ve never had to cut so many words before but over the next two weeks I chopped and chopped until I finally was able to turn the book in on time with the correct word count. Whew! 

 -Terri Reed. Guardian (Classified K9 Unit)


Anyone who knows me will tell you I can be a real spaz. Back in December 2014, I was working on a manuscript that would end up being Her Small-Town Romance. In order to stay on track with my writing goals, I needed to finish drafting the book before Christmas. I didn’t want to spend the beginning of my kids’ Christmas vacation stuck in my office all day, though, so I gave myself a new deadline—the Friday before their break. The day arrived and I still had almost ten thousand words to write. With the help of a large McDonald’s Coke and my trusty M&Ms, I wrote for twelve hours straight. I didn’t even break for dinner. My husband thought I was nuts and slid a plate with some food on it to me around 8pm. I paused for a few bites, but kept going until I typed The End around 10pm. I giggle about it now, but it won’t be the last time I push myself to meet a crazy goal. I’m just wired that way!

-Jill Kemerer.  Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

I started writing when my kids were very young. We set rules early about when Mom was on deadline: Don’t interrupt Mom unless it didn’t stop bleeding, it was obviously broken or someone had lost consciousness and couldn’t be revived. I didn’t realize how seriously they took those requests until the day I was on a writing roll with a deadline breathing down my neck...and I realized it was long past time to eat. I hurried into the kitchen and found them happily dining on the leftovers I’d set aside for that week. Even though they were young—the oldest was only 9—they’d selected the meal they wanted, put it in microwave, and stood on tiptoe to set the time to cook. On one hand, I knew my “Mother of the Year” award wasn’t going to be forthcoming (again!), but I was proud of them for working it out on their own while I got those last couple of hundred words written. So proud in fact, that the book when published—after getting in on time!—was dedicated to the three of them, the “grab-it” meals they’d prepared for themselves and the microwave.

Jo Ann Brown, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author. A Ready Made Amish Family.



And to protect..everyone, we have a few anonymous tales.


The book was due, and I had three more projects in the queue, which meant I couldn't dilly dally.  I had 30k words and I realized NOTHING was working. The characters weren't working, the story wasn't working, the plot wasn't working. I was shaking. Literally shaking. I asked for a short extension and rewrote the entire book in 22 days. I only kept about 3k words from the original proposal, which meant I wrote 67k in 22 days. Then the flu came sweeping through our house. The book wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as you'd think. Worst, most miserable experience of my writing life. On the good side, writing a 20k novella in month felt like a breeze after that!  -Anonymous


Once I wrote a proposal with a false engagement, and the editor's notes said that she didn't like how the engagement was written. Misunderstanding the direction, I took out the entire plot line instead of making the engagement more believable (what she meant). I was finishing up the book when the editor asked me for titles. She rejected all the titles and asked for a title that included a reference to the false engagement. The book was due in two weeks. I had to write the plot line back *in* to the book! Lesson learned. When in doubt: Ask.  -Anonymous

I've always believed I was a slow writer. That is until one particular deadline. The story was plotted out. Being stuck should NOT have happened. Yet, it did happen. When the solution finally hit, I wrote twenty-five thousand words in two days. I no longer tell people I'm a slow writer.  -Anonymous.


Deadline Quotes from our Anonymous Authors.

  My son once said, "That's about as believable as when mom says she's going to finish a book before deadline." Sigh. Even the kids know.


My kids don't even blink when they find there is milk in the pantry (instead of the refrigerator) during deadline week. They've learned that mom is there, but not 'there.'


I once fell asleep on the space bar and added 1,011 blank pages to the document. It took a long time to delete all those pages.


I told my husband, "Remember, I'm on deadline this week." He rolled his eyes and said, "How is this different from every other week?"


My children grew up with their mother as a writer on deadline. From an early age, I heard my daughter explain to her siblings that, "Mom is in her happy place." Meaning I was definitely in my head and not on this planet.


An Urban Legend Deadline Tale.

As an unpublished author, new to RWA, I heard the story of a multi-published author who entered the Golden Heart when she was an unpublished newbie. She didn't just enter. She entered by overnighting her entry at what would have been a whopping cost, at the last possible minute. In those draconian days, we had to print out our entry and snail mail them. This nameless legend finaled, and won her category of the Golden Heart and went on to sell that book and many, many more. This tale kept me entering the Golden Heart year after year. And I finaled twice. 

-Tina Radcliffe. Rocky Mountain Cowboy. 
 

Now, in this last week, we encourage you to press on! But before you do, we'd love for you to share your own deadline tale! No matter what the deadline was. Like that time you were late for church and showed up with your shirt inside out. Come on, you know you wanna tell us! Leave a comment for a chance at this fun giveaway!


Card Catalogue Note Cards with Envelopes that look like check out sleeves from old library books. Two winners. A reader and a writer. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition. 








This post was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Sign up for her monthly newsletter here. The next one goes out on April 13 and is guaranteed to make you smile.







Don't forget that the end of Speedbo means revising. You can sign up for Tina Radcliffe's month-long self-paced class, Self-Editing for Beginners, that runs April 3-28 here.  If you have already taken the class, you can audit for free if you need a refresher. Just email Tina.
      

The Weekend Edition



Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
As we launch into the FINAL WEEK OF SPEEDBO!
Be sure to share how you're doing in the comments!












If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes. Send to Seekers@Seekerville.net


 Check here to see if you were a Speedbo winner this week!

Monday: Janet Dean gave us a lift with her post "Speedbo got you down? Give yourself the gift of Kindness." The winner of a five page critique is Kathy Bailey. The winner of one of Janet's eBooks is Caryl Kane.

Tuesday: Amanda Cabot joined us as we discussed "The Power Of A Family Tree." The winner of an autographed copy of A Stolen Heart is DebH.

Wednesday: Bestselling author Elizabeth Musser was in the house to offer a glimpse into her very unusual writing life and how she's managed to remain relatively (but certainly not totally) sane! The winner of her most recent release, The Long Highway Home, is Terri Tiffany.

Thursday: Jill Weatherholt was our special guest with her post, "The Payoff of Perseverance." She's celebrating her debut release from Love Inspired. Toni Shiloh and  Evelyn Hill are winners of  Second Chance Romance!


 Monday:  Seeker Tina Radcliffe brings her friends to Seekerville to share, "Deadline Tales From Trenches." Speedbo, book deadline or contest entry deadline, you are not alone as you madly dash toward "The End." Stop by for fun and a cool giveaway!

Tuesday: Sandra Leesmith will discuss the importance of hiring an editor before sending your manuscript out and/or indie publishing your book. She has invited Rachelle Rea Cobb, a freelance editor to answer questions.  Sandra will be giving away five copies of Rachelle's helpful book: Write Well: A Grammar Guide.


Wednesday: As the end of March looms, Glynna Kaye offers "Speedbo Countdown! Getting Yourself to The End with a Quick Win," and the opportunity to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of her May Love Inspired release, The Nanny Bargain.


Thursday: Tina Radcliffe brings you "The WHY of Motivation." We'll talk about Stupid Heroine Syndrome and all sorts of fun things. See you there! 


Friday: We bring you our final Speedbo Best of the Archives posts. Comments are closed on Friday to allow us more reading and writing time!

















Check out Tina Radcliffe's short romance, Matchmaker Dad in the April 3, issue of Woman's World Magazine. On sale, NOW!






April is coming! Time to polish those Speedbo manuscripts. Held one time only this year. Details and sign-up information here.















Thanks for the link love!

Congratulations to the RITA and Golden Heart finalists. A special Villager shout-out to  GH finalists Dianna Shuford and Laura Conner Kestner. And to RITA finalists, Karen Witemeyer, Kara Isaacs, Carol J Post, Margaret Browning and Robin Lee Hatcher. Here's the list: you should be reading RITA finaling books in the category you are writing or targeting. 

Discover the Joy of Inspirational Romance with 3 FREE Love Inspired ebooks!

http://bit.ly/2lX2ccb











The State of Social Media Demographics: 2017 Benchmarks [Infographic] (HubSpot)

5 Tools Every Indie Author Should Use (Social Media Just for Authors) 

 How Do I Stay Published With Lackluster Sales (Janet Reid, Literary Agent)

How To Rescue a Book in Danger of Dying (Writers Helping Writers)


As we enter the last week of Speedbo, let's lift each other in prayer and recall the words of Elizabeth Musser from her post on Wednesday.


      

Best of the Archives: Write the Scene

 Writing a scene seems straightforward enough, but I want to journey past the basics and  into a few other areas of scene that have been on my mind.

If you've been in my online class the basics are not new. You have permission to eat donuts while I review scene and ignore sequel for today. Please save me a maple glazed donut.


The Basics of Scene:

When you write a scene, your goals are to elicit emotion and move your story forward. 

Just like your book has GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) , your scenes have GCD. 

Structure of Scenes:

Goal->Character wants something
Conflict ->2 characters with incompatible goals
Disaster->hook, unexpected development

In many inspirational and sweet romance novels, the conflict and disaster are what is called "low tension." The conflict provides enough worry factor to satisfy the reader but generally does not involve world peace. 

The disaster at the end of the scene can be as simple an internal monologue of worry or "what am I going to do now?"  Or it can be a real "gasp" hook as in suspense or action novels.  Varying your disaster in each scene provides more interest for your reader so they don't predict what's next.

And remember that disaster is why you do not end your scenes with going to bed. The reason we end with disaster is so the story advances, the tension increases and the reader keeps turning the pages. 

Additionally, every scene asks a question: Take the scene goal and turn it into a question. Will xx get xx? The character should always be in worse shape at the end of the scene than at the start.

 An example of scene GCD:

  • Goal: Daisy wants the land that borders the river and plans to purchase it today after selling her cows at market. (The scene question is, will Daisy get the land?)
  • Conflict: She goes to the claim office and discovers the price on the land has gone up.
  • Disaster: Not only that but Cade (her mortal enemy) tells her he intends to buy it and the only way she can have that land is to marry him.

Cheesy, but you get my point. 

And here are some real disaster scene endings from books on my shelf- notice the variety of different types of tension in the disaster endings.


The fire engine’s horn sounded before the vehicle pulled away from the curb.Maggie shook her head, willing herself out of the daze that had wrapped itself around her.
“I’m simply going to have to stay out of his way,” she murmured. “Because Jake MacLaughlin is an exceptionally dangerous man.” 
Safe in the Fireman's Arms-Tina Radcliffe 

The doctor looked up from her crouched position. "Less than ten years, and these markings on the rib cage-" she pointed at the tiny lines "-are lacerations made by a knifelike instrument. It would appear a crime has occurred on your island, Sheriff Grant. And my assessment says it's murder." 
 Grave Danger-Katy Lee 
  
 Reel wondered if Robie was still coming after her. She wondered if right now he regretted not killing her.
Her phone buzzed. She looked down at the screen.
Will Robie had just answered her.
The Hit- David Baldacci

And yet, once again I will mention my post 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now as I reference scenes with no goals.
So, if getting ham and cheese on rye with the hero is your only scene goal, the conflict better be that the waitress hates your heroine and wants the hero and the disaster is she poisoned your heroine.


Resources for further research on Scene:


Scene & Structure-Jack M. Bickham

Writing the Perfect Scene –Randy Ingermanson



 And just for fun here is Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn talking about how she writes scenes.

I've laid the foundation. Now let's talk about a common practice I see with newer writers. If you think I'm talking about you, you're right and wrong. We've all been there and done that. I even have the shirt. 
Writing Around the Scene 

Writing AROUND the scene usually occurs when your hero and heroine are about to share the stage in a monumental way. The writer leads you up to the scene nicely and then stops right on the edge of the precipice. 

The next thing on the page is either hours later, the next day, or worse, reflection by one of the characters about the scene that we never saw (this reflection is called sequel btw).

Don't do that. Why? Because you are cheating your reader and subconsciously making them very cranky. Allow me to explain.

Scenes are live.

Everything you say happens in a scene must play out in real time. TIME IS REAL IN EACH SCENE. -Michael Hauge

 Yes, we all use techniques to show the passage of time, however, that is used to avoid the stuff readers skip over, like sleeping, showering, using the loo.

BUT passage of time techniques must never, ever cheat your reader.

Every scene is not only going to provide GCD (Goal, Conflict, Disaster) and advance your story, but it also is an opportunity to endear your reader to your protagonist. To get them into the skin of our character. To make them root for your hero/heroine. Make them care. It's also an opportunity to elicit emotion. 

When you make your readers part of the journey then they think about your characters long after they close the book. 

Now on to more sticky scene stuff....


A while back Mary Connealy mentioned the fear that writers have as they sit, hands poised over the keyboard ready to tackle a difficult scene. Let's address that because again, it's another writerly phenomenon we all experience.

Fear of Writing the Scene 

We are neurotic writers who talk to people in our heads, and our fears include:


  • Fear of the audience
  • Fear of the editor
  • Fear of ourselves
  • Fear of the art

This begins with some basic neurosis as you self-talk.  

What if I can’t get what’s in my head onto the paper?

Who am I to tell this story?

What if I fail?

What if it’s misinterpreted?

What if they don’t hear it, taste it, feel it as I do?

What if I freeze in the clutch?

What if they find out I'm a fraud?

What if my editor hates it?

What if I get one-star reviews?


The first step toward writing past your fear is to IGNORE YOUR HEAD. (AND STOP READING REVIEWS -You know who you are and yes, I am talking to you!)

You are not alone in your fears, so just go ahead and write the scene.


The writer does not know what he knows. You must remain with a difficult scene for as long as it takes to dig deeply into yourself and discover more of what you know. You not only complete the scene but add to your store of writing skill.

The "short breath" writer is facile and easily discouraged. When he exhausts what he knows, he rearranges and never learns anything new. He repeats and re-repeats. The "long breath" writer plunges deeply until he finds what he needs. He emerges from the depths of "self" with new material, new techniques. He learns from himself.


Dare to Be a Great Writer-Leonard Bishop



Now I leave you with a thought-provoking technique to consider when you sit down to write your next scene:

Every scene has a "hot spot," the moment that the rest of the scene is built around. One way to determine the best length for a scene is to locate that moment and draw a box around it. Then read backward from there. Read the previous paragraph and ask yourself whether or not it  (or all the sentences in it) contributes to that hot spot. Then repeat the paragraph before that and repeat the process. By alternating the traditional linear reading, you get a more objective perspective of each line and are able to cut those that interfere.

Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes-Ray Obstfeld.


Here's the promised quiz for today:

 What's your greatest fear about writing the scene? 


This post first appeared in Seekerville, May 22, 2015. Comments are closed today so we can catch up on our reading and writing.



Tina Radcliffe can be found, writing that scene in Arizona. Sign up for her newsletter at www.tinaradcliffe.com to keep up with her!

Her online class Self-Editing for Beginners will be held April 3-28 this year. Details and sign up information can be found here. 

If you're out and about buying essentials like chocolate and Peeps today, pick up the April 3 issue of Woman's World with her romantic short, Matchmaking Dad!

And finally, Bradley Cooper told Tina that she needs to build up her presence on Book Bub. Yes. Really, he did. Would you kindly go and follow her on Book Bub? All that will do is send you an email when she has a book released.  Here is the link. 



      

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