Friday, November 27, 2009

A Truly Eternal Triangle

from Emily Bryan . . .

My fam and I are planning on seeing New Moon sometime this holiday weekend. I've read the books and since they followed Twilight pretty closely in the first flick, I expect they'll do the same for this second movie. If you haven't read the book, you might want to stop reading now because this post might be considered a SPOILER.

You hear a lot about Team Edward and Team Jacob, with people picking their favorite hero. They are both very worthy, strong characters. But what you never hear about is anyone pulling for Bella.

That's because as the focal point of this unhappy romantic triangle, Bella comes over as weak and wishy-washy, if not downright cruel. As I read the book, I was upset with the way she led Jacob on, keeping him on the string as her "fall-back" if Edward didn't return for her.

This problem isn't unique for the Twilight series. Every romance triangle has an "odd man or woman out." And the one who's torn between two lovers always comes off looking selfish and unsympathetic.

Do you see any way a writer can overcome this? Some of the best have tried it. Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, Scott's Ivanhoe and Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd spring to mind. I suspect it may be impossible to make the center character sympathetic because the human heart craves exclusivity from a lover and I don't think that should change.

Have you ever read a love triangle story that made you like and root for all three corners of the triangle with equal pasion?

I'm counting down the last days of my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST . On December 1st, one lucky person will win a $100 gift card just in time for Christmas shopping. And while I'm talking about gift giving, let me encourage you to think about giving books as gifts this year. You'll be giving hours of pleasure and sharing something that's important in your life.

Enter today and good luck!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving to the authors and readers who follow The Chatelaines.

Go forth, give thanks, and eat pie!

Best wishes,

Jennifer Ashley

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A new reason to love Thanksgiving...

Someone sent me one of those internet joke emails the other day with this picture. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. How nice that my genetics will be in fashion tomorrow! :D

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your day be filled with lots of love and laughter as well as good food.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Romance titles that will never make it

Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for friends, family, rollover minutes, Dh cooking the turkey so I won't set the oven on fire, my pets, job, house, and being an author.

In view of the last, here's a little something to lighten your week.

Romance titles that will never make it.
My Meh Lover
The Highlander’s Halitosis
To Catch an STD
Then Came You, and 9 months later came Baby John
Taming the Accountant
Almost a Virgin
The Rake’s Hoe
An Unexpected Disappointment
Seducing the Mailman
Simply Average
The Duke of Pox
Lord of Sweat
His Every Flatulence
The Passion of Herman

And... making fun of my own recent release, and my December anthology...
Immortal Badger
Holiday Dinner with a Vampire

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I've spent the month of November counting my blessings and posting them each day. Today I'd like to take a bit more time and talk about a special blessing. The Chatelaines.

Writing is a tough business. There are deadlines and reviews and rejections (yes even published writers get rejections) There is also the isolation of our jobs. Even though being published is a dream come true it comes with as many downs as there are ups. Every writer needs a group of other writers they can talk to and confide in who understand exactly what it is you are going through at any particular moment.

So thank you fellow Chatelaines for all the support.

I'm also most grateful for my family, my friends, my home, my pets, my talent, my fans, my neighbors, (taking deep breath). As you can see I have a lot to be Thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Breath Of Heaven

So excited to finally get the cover on my next release, BREATH OF HEAVEN. It will be out next June. It's a bit different than my usual historicals and a whole lot sexier. I will post more on it as the time grows closer but for how, here's your first look at Rhys and Eliane.


She appeared out of nowhere, clad in form-fitting leathers and looking as magical as the mysterious woods she roamed. With flashing emerald eyes, she taunted the intruder, daring him to come deeper into her enchanted realm.


Rhys DeRemy owed his life to her father, just as he owed unswerving obedience to his king. If he took the heiress of Aubregate to wife, he could clear the debts of the tormented boy he had been as well as the battle-hardened warrior he’d become. But it was Eliane herself who called out to the man in him, whose fierce pride cast a spell on him, whose silken bed promised . . .


I love love love this cover. It's my first guy/girl cover. The models are perfect and the artwork conveys the story really well I'm particularly happy with the addition of the unicorn on the tapestry as this story as a touch of fantasy to it.

Please tell me what you think of it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gentle Pleasures

from Emily Bryan

I'm in the middle of revisions for STROKE OF GENIUS (June 2010) and trying to come up with the next premise that will propel me 400 pages. But this morning, I'm calling a halt. It's time to do something mindless and soothing.

I'm making origami Christmas ornaments.

This too is writing related because I need to send them out to the readers who participated in NightOwl Romance's virtual signing for A CHRISTMAS BALL. With my apologies for taking so long about it. Thank you to everyone who was part of that virtual signing. (If anyone would like a signed copy, please see The Book Oasis. I've just made an agreement with a local indie bookseller to provide signed copies of all my books online!)

I learned to make origami cranes when I was in 5th grade and when they're done with foil paper, they're perfect for the Christmas tree. When my DH and I first married, we lived very lean (young people wildly in love can do that without realizing it at the time!) so our first trees were always decorated with homemade ornaments. I still have a few of those early ornaments to remind us where we've been.

If you and I were sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of my DH's delicious fresh ground coffee, I'd show you how to make a Christmas Crane. But alas, we'll have to do this virtually. Here's the link to the best directions I've ever seen on how to make these. Enjoy!

What homemade Christmas ornaments are special to you?

PS. If you haven't entered my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST, there's still time. The drawing for the $100 gift card will be held December 1st! Please tell your friends!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions. This time of year we have so very many of them to contend with. Some we like. Some we endure. Some we actually enjoy! Traditions are a big part of the Thanksgiving holiday, and every American has their own way of celebrating--from stuffing the turkey to taking in a football game. I wanted to try to figure out what it is we all do on Thanksgiving Day…here’s what I came up with as the five most popular traditions.

1. Turkey and Stuffing
From the first Thanksgiving to today's turkey burgers, turkeys are an American tradition dating back centuries. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Regional twists offer variations on the traditional roasted bird, including coffee rubbed turkey from Hawaii, salt encrusted turkey from New England, and deep-fried turkey from the South.

2. Time out for the Pigskin
Throughout the United States, football on Thanksgiving Day is as big a part of the celebration as turkey and pumpkin pie. Dating back to the first intercollegiate football championship held on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, traditional holiday football rivalries have become so popular that a reporter once called Thanksgiving "a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football."

3.Parading Around
The first American Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1920, organized by Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, not Macy's as most people believe. The NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade tradition actually began in 1924, and has grown into an annual event of balloons, bands, and floats, enjoyed by more than 46 million people each year in person and on TV.

4. Making a Wish
Does your family fight over the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? Known as a "lucky break" the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl's bone to win the larger piece and its accompanying "wish" dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.

5. Giving Thanks
Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year. From pre-meal prayers to providing holiday meals to the homeless, the holiday is truly a celebration of praise and thanksgiving.

There are two traditions I look forward to every year, on top of those listed here. My husband and I watch the movie, Home for the Holidays, a few days before everyone comes over for the Thanksgiving Day feast. The movie always makes me feel like nothing that happens with my family could ever be as bad as all that! Perspective is everything at holiday time!
The other tradition I must embrace is Pumpkin Pie. Love it! But don’t love all the calories that go along with it. So here’s a recipe I created and use every year that makes the pie indulgence a little more of a guilty pleasure instead of something I regret.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
1 15-oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup Splenda or sugar, whichever you prefer
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1 can evaporated non-fat milk

Mix together pumpkin, egg substitute and vanilla. Combine Splenda or sugar, spice and salt, then add to pumpkin mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with milk. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 6

What are your family traditions on Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Chance" Story

from Emily Bryan

Well, I've been NaNoWriMo-ing for a little while now and I'm ready to throw in the quill.

For those of you who aren't familiar with National Novel Writing Month, the goal is to produce a 50K word novel by November 30th. Quality of writing is not the main focus. Output is the sole metric by which success is measured. The whole point is to pop your creative cork, silence your internal editor and let the story flow.

Judging from what I've produced, I need my internal editor.


The story flowing out of me is a disjointed mess. I have two guys in my ramblings, either of whom might be the hero, but neither of them seem to be stepping up to don the hero's mantle. My POV is spotty, my sense of place ambiguous. The only thing that seems to be working is the dialogue, which is freakin' hilarious.

Unfortunately, that was not my intent.

When I studied music, I learned about John Cage, an avant garde musician so devoted to the philosophy of randomness his most famous piece is called 4'33' (Four minutes and 33 seconds during which not a single note is played on the theory that some ambient noise might intrude in the concert hall and create "chance music.")

What I've produced doing NaNo is a "chance story." It's literary random noise.

I don't mean this as a slam against anyone for whom the NaNo method is working. If you're happy with your results, God bless you. I'm happy for you. Truly.

But we're all wired differently and I'm done chasing my tail. I've invited my internal editor back out to play so we can make some sense of this mess. I've learned something of value here. I need structure. I need an overarching plan when I write. I need to do all my pre-work instead of charging blithely into word spewing. It doesn't work for me. Like Edison learning thousands of ways not to make a lightbulb, I've learned a way for me not to write a novel.

How about you? Are you doing NaNo? What do you like about it? What's your experience with this method been like?

PS. I'm also at House of Muse today, talking about my real life brush with sexual harrassment. (Don't worry. Like all my stories, this one has a happy ending! And commenters are entered in the drawing for a copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL!) And if you need a giggle, please pop over to . I've heard of fan fiction, but this is the first example of "fan photoshop." It's hysterical, I promise!


Enter for a chance to win $100 gift card on December 1st!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Several Tidbits

The big announcement this week is that Harlequin is launching a new e-pub-only publishing house, which will be run separately from it's main HQ/Sil lines (different acquisitions, different pay system, etc.)

The new press is Carina Press, which will be a no-advance e-pub house (similar to EC and Samhain), but no definite word yet on royalty rate. (EC and Samhain pay anywhere from 35-40%, so I'd hold out for that, writers.) Angela James, formerly of Samhain, is on board.

The official website and blog is: They plan to publish romance plus many other genres (mystery, fantasy, etc), and launch in Spring or Summer of 2010.

Lots of people chatting about this all over the net.


Another neat thing: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is now available in hardback from Rhapsody and Doubleday (and I think Book-of-the-Month as well).

At Rhapsody:

If you've been looking for it in hardback, or know someone who has, here it is, in time for Christmas.

I keep reading about this new FCC regulation (or proposed regulation) that requires bloggers who do product reviews (including books) to add a statement as to whether they've been paid to endorse (e.g., getting books free to be reviewed/raved about.) So here's mine:

Hey, I buy all these books myself. I pay for them. I read them. If I really like one, I do a mini review and say why I liked it and recommend it to others. It costs me my own time and my own money. So I can say what I want, OK?? However if anyone wants to give me loads of chocolate for these reviews or just because you want to send me chocolate--You Go For It!


My recommendation for this week is Must Love Hellhounds. In brief, strong paranormal stories from strong authors. The stories lean more to the fantasy side than the romance--there is romance in them, but it's not emphasized as much as the plot and fantasy elements. The romance is there (integral part of the stories), but these aren't "relationship" stories.

Very enjoyable short reads for dull days. Plus great taste of authors' styles/stories/series if you haven't read them before.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all vets and their families, especially ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Special prayers to the families and friend of the soldiers recently fallen at Ft. Hood.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Congrats and a celebration!

We have a winner! Congrats to Anthea! Anthea email your snailmail to I'll pass it on to Elizabeth and she will send you your prize, an autographed copy of To Desire A Devil

Congrats to our own C.L. Wilson for hitting the New York Times best seller list with her latest release Queen Of Song and Souls. She came in at #12. Woot! And coming in right behind Cheryl at number 13 is my dear friend Elizabeth Hoyt with her book To Desire A Devil. Elizabeth is guest blogging here today and will give away a copy of Devil to a lucky poster.

After seven years in hellish captivity, Reynaud St. Aubyn bursts into his ancestral home half mad with fever, demanding his due. Can this wild
man truly be the last earl’s son, thought murdered by Indians?

Beatrice Corning is the niece of the present earl and a proper English miss. Yet she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in a certain portrait. Now, suddenly, he’s here, in the flesh—and luring her into his bed.


Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud’s savage ways to the noble man inside. And Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as her loyalty to her uncle raises his suspicions. But can she tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title—even if it means sacrificing her innocence?

To Desire A Devil is the fourth and last book in a series. Each book, To Taste Temptation, To Seduce A Sinner and To Beguile A Beast has its own story, but through out all four books is the mystery of who betrayed the four soldiers who are featured in each story. I have to admit I was blown away when I read the teaser chapter about To Desire A Devil and can't wait to read it and find out the answer to the mystery, plus see how Reynauld survived his death by fire. So here's a little insight to how Elizabeth plots her stories. And one lucky poster will win an autographed copy of To Desire A Devil.


So recently I had to turn in a synopsis to my editor for approval on a
contracted book?the second in a series. There was a slight internet
pause after I sent the thing in, and then my editor pointed out
(correctly) that there was no plot in my synopsis.


You know, I used to take a month to plot out each of my books. A
month! I?d outline every scene, I?d have black moments and turning
points. I?d have arcs and timelines. And invariably about a third of
the way into the book, I?d go off the road and start driving through
the bushes. The last book I plotted out entirely was?wait for it!?To
Desire a Devil (out this month!) In that book I went into the bushes
on the very first page. There I was writing my first scene?a dramatic
scene in which the hero burst into a party, back from the dead!?and I
realized the heroine didn?t have anyone to talk to. So I gave her a
friend?Lottie?which led to a secondary plot?and a month?s plotting
work down the drain. And y?know, I think the book turned out pretty
good, after all that.

Really, why bother?

My next book?WICKED INTENTIONS (not out until Aug. 2010!) I plotted
the first third of the book, hit a few high notes for the rest, looked
at it, said, what the heck? and began writing. And y?know, I think
it?s a pretty good book.

I?m the kind of person who spends months planning the family
vacation?down to the pit stops on the way?so letting go of the
detailed plotting is a big step for me. But guess what? One of our
most fun family get-aways was a weekend when we just took off in the
car. We got lost in the hills of southern Illinois (I know! I had no
idea there were hills in Illinois either) and had a ball. And some of
the best scenes in my books are big wonking drives through the bushes.
The scene with Kind George in To Beguile a Beast wasn?t plotted. The
scene in the inn in To Seduce a Sinner came out of the blue. And
Lottie (her dog Pan) were completely seat-of-the-pants in To Desire a

So maybe what I need to do is quite worrying about the pit stops and
enjoy the scenery.

Yours Most Sincerely,

Elizabeth Hoyt

PS: Discussion question! What are your favorite off-the-main-road
memories? And if you?re a writer, what detours have you taken in your

Sorry I missed my Day to Post

from Emily Bryan

Fridays are my normal posting day here at The Chatelaines, but I lost my 16 year old puppy yesterday. I blogged about it at and today we're talking about choosing rescue animals over pricy purebreds. I'm trying to make something good come from my grief. Please join me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nalini Singh Talks about Her Books!

And the winner of a copy of An Enchanted Season is: jeanette8042 !! Congrats. Please get in touch with me at jenniferashley at, so I can give your mailing info to Nalini. Thank you all, and thank you, Nalini!!

I'm thrilled that Nalini has come to blog with us today, to celebrate her new release in the Psy-Changling series, Blaze of Memory. She will be giving away a mass market copy of An Enchanted Season to one lucky commenter--so enter and get an early Christmas present!

JA: Nalini you have new releases all over the place! September saw your novella in Must Love Hellhounds, November is Blaze of Memory, a Psy-changeling book, and then you have a book in your new series in February 2010.

What can we look forward to seeing in Blaze of Memory?

NS: Blaze of Memory is set in the world of the Forgotten. Who are the Forgotten? In my world, there are three races—humans, changelings, and Psy. The Psy have phenomenal powers of the mind (telepathy, telekinesis etc), but they have conditioned emotion out of themselves.

The Forgotten are descendants of those Psy who didn’t agree with the conditioning process and rebelled. Though them, we get to see into the past, catch a glimpse of why the Psy made the choices they did.

The hero is one of the Forgotten, while the heroine is Psy—their relationship is dangerous, passionate and…perhaps lethal, right from the very start.

JA: I like the Psy-changeling series because it’s a different twist on paranormals and alternate-world stories. What inspired you to write this series?

NS: It wasn’t one particular thing that led me to write this series, but rather a build-up of interests. I’ve always been fascinated by psychic abilities, and by the big cats, and then one day, it all just seemed to come together.

JA: Likewise, what inspired you to write Angel’s Blood, and start in that direction?

NS: I remember one day seeing an image in my mind of an archangel high up in a tower above New York. Who was he? What was he doing there? And that’s how it began. I sat down and started writing, and I discovered that Raphael was the Archangel of New York, and that he was both beautiful and ruthless. For the rest, you’ll have to read the book!

JA: It's a cool idea--I haven't read the new series yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Look for the next in the series: Archangel's Kiss in February.

I myself would be thrilled beyond belief to be in an anthology with Charlaine Harris (not to mention you, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook). I have the book (Must Love Hellhounds)and am reading through it, enjoying it very much.

You do several novellas a year in addition to your single titles—do you enjoy that process and how is it different from writing full novels?

NS: I adore writing novellas. Because my single title paranormals tend to be quite complex in terms of the overarching plot, it’s nice to occasionally write stories that have a much more linear storyline. Through novellas, I can also explore the lives of secondary characters who we might not see so much in the full-length books, and learn about different aspects of the world(s).

JA: Thank you Nalini!

NS: Thanks for having me, Jennifer!

Please leave a comment or question for Nalini in the comments to enter for a chance at winning An Enchanted Season anthology (stories by Nalini Singh, Maggie Shayne, Jean Johnson, & Erin McCarthy).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dorchester Author Chat at Writerspace Mon Nov 9th at 9pm ET!

Hey all

Don't forget to stop by the Dorchester Author Chat at Writerspace on Monday Nov 9th at 9pm ET!

I'll be there talking about Silver Silence, and giving away an autographed copy of Deep Magic. And maybe some of my fellow Chatelaines will be there with me to chat about their current releases??????

Writerspace Chat Room at

Hope to see you all there!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I'm not doing NaNoWriMo

Cheryl had a great post the other day about National Novel Writing Month.

I had thought about doing NaNo, but this year, I'm passing. It's not going to work for me.

Don't get me wrong. I think NaNo is great for writers, and it's a wonderful way to kick start a new project. For those who hesitate at writing, it's a good method to just do it. I know someone who has, for years, said, "Oh, I should sit down and finish my book someday."

You're not going to get published with, "finish my book someday.'

I'm not doing NaNo simply because my goals are different this month. Instead of National Novel Writing Month, it's National Reading Month for me. My goal is to read, read, read and then write a new proposal.

I don't want to work on a book that may or may not get published. I have a drawer filled with manuscripts that gasped their last. Instead, I'm looking at the market, seeing what sells and what doesn't, and experimenting with that.

Trends come and go. If you write something based on what's popular this year, it may be out of date by the time publishers are setting their schedules. If Zombie Vampire Cowboy Manta Rays are hot, they may be chilling by the time your manuscript or proposal is read.

Write, write, write, but you also need to be aware of what's going on in the business.

Times are really tough right now in publishing. Authors are getting dropped by their publishers right and left, even those who have been around for a long time. Editors and agents are under more pressure than ever.

So write, but be aware that you need to know about the industry as well. Here's a list of what I think is essential for any writer, beginning or otherwise:

1. Know what a contract is, what the loopholes are, what restrictions there are. Understand about reserve on returns, and royalty rates (especially for the ever-changing market of ebooks). Keep up with industry buzz. There are lots of great blogs and resources out there.

2. Don't rush to sign on with the first agent who wants to rep you. It's said time and again that no agent is better than a bad agent. A bad agent can ruin your career, opportunities and swipe your money. Ask around about agents. Research them on the internet, there's tons of good info out there. When you do sign with one, go with an agent who likes your writing and will champion you, not just that particular project you sent. Because if that one project doesn't sell, you may be left to languish on the sidelines.

3. Understand the book selling world, about distribution, wholesales, e-books and why Wal-Mart is so important in terms of sales and exposure, especially for midlist authors.

4. You can be friendly with your agent and editor, but always keep it professional for everyone's sake. This is a business. Have you ever had to terminate a business relationship with a friend? Not easy!

5. Weigh the opportunities that come to you in terms of your career goals. A smaller house may give you less money in advances, but do more in terms of distribution and promo.

6. Same holds true with opportunities for writing projects. Novellas and anthologies typically pay little, except if you're a NY Times best-seller. However, they are great opportunities to get your name out there before a diff. reading audience. Cindy's "Mammoth" stories are wonderful examples of this. This year, I was asked by Harlequin to write a free online serial for their website. It was a very very tight squeeze with my already full writing schedule, but I did it because the exposure is great, and they wanted the story to promote both my Oct. release, IMMORTAL WOLF, and my Dec. anthology, HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE III.

7. Learn to revise. Accept that revisions are a fact of life in publishing. When you feel comfortable with that fact, and learn to do it well, you'll have an advantage over writers who refuse to change one word of their stories.

8. At the same time, learn to pick and choose your battles with editorial revisions. If an editor wants so many revisions that the story becomes unrecognizable, maybe it's time to pull the plug on that project and send in another one.

9. Cheer when your friends do well, and mourn with them when they've suffered a setback. Friends and supporters are very, very important in this business. Even the superstars have problems. Those who have made the NY Times list worry about hitting it again with the next book. Those who made Number One on the list worry about maintaining that slot.

10. Learn to take a break, and relax, and realize that you ARE a creative soul and all creative souls need rest and rejuvenation.

So, there you have it. Good luck to all those participating in NaNoWriMo. May the book you write this month make all your publishing hopes and dreams come true!

Oh, and BTW, I'm doing a big multi-author booksigning this Saturday, Nov. 7 in Central Florida to help raise money for adult literacy. Romancing the Holidays will be held at the Altamonte Mall from 2-5 p.m. in the center court by the fountain. I'll be signing copies of IMMORTAL WOLF, and for the first ten people who buy a copy, I'm giving away a copy of HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE III, my Dec. book that isn't even out yet.

Click here for more info.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's going on...

Yes I have been a blog slacker. I've taken a step back lately to re-evaluate my career. Which doesn't mean I've stopped writing. Its more like I'm trying to figure out what direction my writing is going in. Meanwhile I have written a couple of short stories. The first one is called Time Trails and is in the Mammoth Book of Time Travel which will be released in Dec. Its the story of a Texas Ranger and a Time cop from the future and has some Steampunk elements.
The second is called Quicksilver and will come out in the Irish Book of Romance in January. This was a fascinating story to write as I placed it in the fifth century and used a lot of Irish Mythology. I loved researching it as I am of Irish descent. You can order both from Amazon. I'm most anxious to read the rest of the stories to see what the other authors included came up with.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo and Write or Die

Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month - or NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly called. Writers from all over the world have signed up and pledged to write a 50,000 word novel in ONE MONTH, starting today and ending Nov 30. (Thank you, Eagle Eye Emily, for catching my 31-day typo! I should have counted the months on my knuckles the way I usually do!)

I am one of the NaNo's this month (wish me luck!).

As those of you who know me already know, writing fast is not my gig. I'm a slow plodder, often struggling to clock 1,000 words a day. Part of the reason for this is that I edit, edit, edit when I should be writing, writing, writing! For the last four years, I've been trying to adapt my process, trying to write more good pages faster. So far, everything has failed.

Then my friend sent me a link to a program called "Write or Die!" from Dr. Wicked's Writing Labs.

Write or Die is a software program written by a procrastinating writer for procrastinating writers. It's quite diabolical, really, in its simplicity and sheer "No Quarter Given!" demand that when a writer sits at the computer s/he should just WRITE!

Or, as Dr. Wicked says on his website, "Write or Die puts the PROD in Productivity!"

The program is quite simple. You say how many words you plan to write and how many minutes you have to write them. Then click WRITE. A text window opens, and writing begins.

The top of text window keeps two real-time meters running - "completion bars" showing how close you are to completing your word count, and how close you are to running out of time.

There's a bit more to it than that, and here's where the motivation comes into play. On the main screen, you define your "grace period" (ie, how long your keyboard can remain idle - no keystroke) before you begin to see Consequences. There are three modes of Consequences (or, as I prefer to call them: "productivity motivators") in the version of Write or Die I downloaded last week:

  • Gentle - A popup message appears, informing you that you are wasting valuable writing time.

  • Normal - Your writing text window turns a (user-definable) warning shade. After your grace period runs out, obnoxious music begins to play from your computer speakers.

  • Kamikaze - truly diabolical. If you don't write and keep writing, when your grace period runs out, your words start UNWRITING THEMSELVES!!! Holy motivators, Batman! Talk about pressure.

There is a fourth Consequence on the current version called "Electric Shock." I don't have that version yet, and I'm really rather frightened to give it a try! ;)

Does it work? Well, unbeknownst to me, I'd somehow enabled Kamikaze mode this morning. I gave myself one hour to write 600 words (about 2 pages in my manuscript). I usually write a whopping 1 page per hour. When I realized my words were erasing themselves, I kept that keyboard humming!

I wrote 601 words in 32 minutes.

Yep, I was motivated, all right!

Now, in all honesty, those 600 words weren't great words. They certainly weren't polished words. But they were words. 601 of the precious darlings that never existed before. 601 shiny, sparkly, brand spanking new words that later on I can edit, rework, reword, flesh out, and mold into beautiful, shiny, flowing pages of prose.

Am I happy?

You betcha!

And now, back to writing :) I hear a Kamikaze calling my name!

To check my progress and cheer me on, you can visit my NaNo page. I'm participating as FeyreisaWrites If you are a NaNo participant, feel free to buddy me, so we can keep each other motivated.

(Note: My 50,000 word "novel" is acutally the remaining 150-200 pages I have left to write on TAIREN SOUL, Book 5 of the Tairen Soul series, which concludes Rain & Ellysetta's story. I'm keeping the NaNo count separate for the competition's sake, but the words will be added to the existing manuscript pages.)

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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