writing general

Readers & Writers for LGBT Auction Results!

Sorry for the lack of updates! It’s odd. There’s no one reason I can put my finger on, but I’ve been exhausted for most of May. I feel like I’m coming down with something, but no symptoms ever eventuate. Still, I have some good news to share with you this morning, that more than makes up for my sleepiness!

The Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens auction took place and raised, in total, 2709 US dollars. That is brilliant. While I’m very pleased with that amount, Chechens still need our help. If you can donate, the FAQ lists organisations that are supporting LGBT Chechens here. Many authors and publishers are donating May royalties to these organisations, so to support them, go here. There are some amazing books taking part.

Seven-Books-Scattered

My contribution to the auction included an original story! I’ve been in touch with the auction winner, and her story request is absolutely awesome. For the last week, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself entertaining various possibilities. I’m in the last stages of hashing out the plot (have the basic outline, but need to do some research to iron down some details), and I have a really good feeling about this one. The working title is More Than Coffee, and as a taste of what I’m working on, head over to Pinterest to see my inspiration board. I’m hoping to have a teaser to share with you soon!

3480bc-white-z1-t-some-heroes-wear-capes-some-heroes-make-your-coffee

Tank Top by Look Human: Check it out.

Name This Dog! Contest and Excerpt.

I’ve been working away at Thorns and Fangs Three (yes, it does have a title—but considering that this is the fifth title I’ve come up with, I’m sitting on a bit longer to be sure this is the one). It’s going a little slower than I would like, but I am pleased with how it’s coming along.

And since I’m enjoying myself, I thought I’d share the fun. Check out this handsome fellow:

11683655_e12a0d1206_z

Woof.

He needs a name. Or rather, his Thorns and Fangs counterpart needs a name.

I know that not everyone reads excerpts, so for the spoiler-free crowd, Nate adopts a stray dog, Aki wants no part of it, and they have to agree on a name for the poor creature (if you enjoy spoilers, read on to see what the poor dog has already endured). Please give me possible names for the dog (a comment on Facebook, Goodreads or WordPress, a tweet, an e-mail, any method okay). The deadline is midnight March 31st NZ time, at which point I will pick the most suitable name to use in the story (and hopefully be able to give the winner a prize as well).

You can make as many suggestions as you like, but unfortunately there is only one dog, so only one winner.

Thank you very much for reading and I look forward to your suggestions!

(more…)

Mindful March

Time for the monthly recap! As you may have gathered from my January recap and Accelerated February posts, February was a busy month. The decision to track my writing, health and money made a big difference, not so much in keeping me on track, but making me aware of what is holding me back currently. Despite the lack of word count, I feel I am making really good progress towards my writing goals. I have a lot of work to do if I want to make my 2017 goals, but I feel confident that I can make it happen.

Quick and dirty recap: February Goals

  • finish Murder #1 – NOT AT ALL
  • re-plot TDL – Almost finished!
  • Freelance project 1 AND 2 – Finished project 1. 2 was not finished, but my client was dealing with IRL stuff, so I am counting this as a success.
  • Complete Freelance Project 3 (weekly)- Great Success.
  • regular blog posts- More or less!
  • read 9 books- YES!
  • establish a daily writing habit.-NO

I started February all fired up to write every day. Unfortunately, until I resolve the plot issues I’m having with Murder#1, working on this project is like pulling teeth. I managed for two days, before sinking into a depressed funk. Not writing also made me fall into a depressed funk, until I realised that I could count plotting as writing. Being able to check off time spent plotting as writing made me feel productive and happy, and that encouraged me to keep at it. I came to the conclusion that I have a lot more work to do with research on Murder#1, but that if I came up with a solid plot for Thorns and Fangs #3, then I could work on that while continuing to research Murder#1. All in all, I wrote 12 out of 28 days in February, which while far from the results I wanted, have meant that I am in a really good position to try again for a daily writing habit in March.

Balancing Freelance projects with everything else will continue to be an ongoing problem in March, as I’m finding it hard to say no to clients adding extra work onto existing projects. I’m going to have to be strategic in what projects I take on, and in protecting my creative and research time.

Now that I’m back in the habit of regular blogging, I’m really enjoying it. Travelling was great fun, but while it gave me a lot of interesting places to write about for the blog, I also returned from Auckland totally exhausted. It took me about a week to recover. What is interesting is that the exhaustion was all mental. Physically, I was tired but otherwise fine. I was not sick at all during February, which, for me, is a huge accomplishment! I think this is Accelerated February already positively impacting my health.

Although I didn’t manage to take my vitamins, eat 5 plus servings of fruit and veges a day or walk every day, I am doing all three more regularly and it is having a tremendous impact, not only  on my health but on how I feel about myself. Another new addition to my health routine is a daily guided meditation using the smiling mind app. This is something I want to continue–hence Mindful March! And that brings us to March Goals:

  • Daily Writing Habit (Currently 2/31)
  • Write Thorns and Fangs #3 (3,894/100,000)
  • Balance Freelance and Creative Work
  • Read 9 books (3/9)
  • Regular blog posts (1/9)
  • Edit and release Deep Magic boxset
  • Complete Defensive Driving Course
  • Sit Full Licence Test
  • SECRET PROJECT TBA later.

All in the mind?

I mentioned that I came away from the Joanna Penn Successful Self-Publishing Seminar with a to-do list, right? One of 44 items, to be exact. Today, 14 days later, I have done precisely ten, all of which were things I had to do anyway because they were either freelance projects or blog posts, both of which have deadlines. When I looked at any of the actions I wanted to take around writing, a fog descended. I had so many choices I was paralysed. I then felt guilty for not accomplishing anything, and things were spiralling as they usually did. I knew that if I wanted to get anything done, I needed to battle the spiral with mindset. So I did.

This post is some of the tools that I’m currently using to keep me focused and productive during some stressful times at home and in the world at large (I don’t think it made the International news, but we have a huge out of control fire on the Port Hills here in Christchurch, and a couple of noticeably big shakes).

It’s no coincidence that The Successful Author Mindset is the book I asked Joanna Penn to sign for me. In many ways, I am my own worst enemy, and I’ve turned to Joanna’s book again and again to help ignore the brain wolves and keep me on the productive path. I cannot recommend this book enough for authors.

Monica Leonelle’s Prosperous Creation is what really woke me to the fact that mindset is an ongoing thing. She places it as the foundation tier of her creative framework, and recommends addressing ongoing habits of reflection and gratitude, to clear out the mental cobwebs and keep your attention reserved for your work.

M. Caspian introduced me to Kikki-k in Auckland. In addition to amazing stationary and notebooks, they offer habit, happiness, organisation and other workshops–including mindfulness. My sister and I went along to a Christchurch workshop, and it was a good introduction to some of the concepts, benefits and methods of practicing mindfulness. In many ways, mindfulness sounds a lot like the flow state that you get when writing is going very, very well–and who wouldn’t want more of that. I came away from the workshop with some new ideas–and a lovely journal (and two notebooks and another journal). Because kikki-k.

img_2942

Mindfulness Journal and friends. The gold letters on the journal cover read ‘Wherever you are, be all there.’

One of the recommendations I got from the mindfulness workshop was the use of a free meditation app to get into a daily mindfulness habit. Two were recommended, headspace and smiling mind. I’m using smiling mind, which is run by an Australian non profit, who want to reduce stress and promote healthier minds through guided meditations suitable for home, work or school.

It is early days yet, but I’m noticed that I’m much happier when I sit down to work, when I get in my car to drive somewhere, or when the unexpected happens and throws a wrench in my plans.

Structure > NaNoWriMo

This post will be of more interest to my fellow writers than readers. I’m giving up my chance to finish NaNo on time to focus on overhauling my plot, starting by giving myself a crash course in structure.

November’s been a really horrible month. We don’t need to go over that. It’s been a particularly bad month for my NaNo project, A Gentlemanly Murder. When I started writing on the first of November, my protagonist didn’t have a name. I finally came up with a name for him, and an opening scene five days later, but then I decided I needed to finish Morgen Song before I went further and set it aside. Morgen Song had a rogue ending that needed to be wrestled with, and while I was pinning that down, November hit in earnest. Finally Morgen Song behaved itself. I sat down with A Gentlemanly Murder, had a brilliantly productive day, work up the next morning and realised that something had gone wrong.

Something has gone wrong is not an unusual feeling for me. Three-quarters of my stories have gone off the rails at some point, requiring a lot of hard work wrestling, cutting words, revising and long walks before they emerge. I think they emerge better for the struggle, but I know I can write really strong stories without that fight–Deep Magic, The Biggest Scoop and Banging the Supernatural are examples of this. Worse, the fight is hard work. It brings with it doubt and writer’s block and ends in a lot of time wasted, whether in time not writing or in revisions later.

I’ve got a feeling that the solution lies in my plotting. I want to be a better outliner, but pretty much all the books I’ve read on how to outline your novel talk about structure instead. After much resisting, I’ve decided to accept the inevitable, and am giving myself a crash course in structure by spending some time with some old friends, namely Michael Hauge, James Scott Bell, Libbie Hawker and Monica Leonelle.

Michael Hauge spoke at the RWNZ 2016 Conference and was amazing. His story mastery workshop was really, really good. I’ve been revising the notes I took from his conference but if you’re interested, check out his product page–he recommended Writing Screenplays that Sell and The Hero’s Two Journeys  for people at the conference who wanted more info of what he was talking about.

What’s really cool is that as I’m re-reading, I’m noticing how well Hauge’s key plot moments and structure ties into James Scott Bell’s pivotal moments. I am a huge fan of Write Your Novel From the Middle, and just read Super Structure, which, while covering a lot of the same ground as Write Your Novel From the Middle, enlarges on the pivotal moments. I found it good because Bell’s moments really resonate with me.

If you haven’t heard of Take Off Your Pants, I will be very surprised! Libbie Hawker does a great job of articulating how theme ties into character and conflict and the outline that she suggests working with is what helped me get Morgen Song back on track at last. The way she approaches her outline is very, very similar to the way that Monica Leonelle works, with the difference that Leonelle brings her marketing savvy to the process in Nail Your Story. Leonelle also provides a copious amount of worksheets. In the past, I’ve been daunted by the sheer amount of worksheets to work through but no more. I’m hoping the time I invest now will equal faster drafting and less revisions later.

 

Ibiza on Ice-Cover Reveal!

Readers of the NineStar Narrative will already know this (and if you’re not subscribed, you should be! The weekly NineStar Press newsletter not only includes upcoming releases, but offers information about sales, special discounts for subscribers and starting November 20th, a special birthday giveaway–http://ninestarpress.com), but my Christmas story not only has a title but also a cover. Say hello to Ibiza on Ice. 

ibizaonice-f

Isn’t it great? Cover Artist Natasha Snow has done an amazing job of matching the vibe of my last year’s Christmas Offering The Ugliest Sweater–which is awesome, because Ibiza on Ice is a sideways sequel to The Ugliest Sweater.

Not only that, but I think this might be the start of a series of inter-related standalone Christmas stories. A contradiction I know, but you’ll understand when you read it. We’re calling this contradiction For the Love of Christmas. I’m already loosely plotting next year’s addition… though I really should be paying more attention to my sadly neglected NaNoWriMo. Whoops!

theugliestsweaternspIbiza on Ice

Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.

When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…

All About the Trigger Moment: P.A. Friday on writing short stories that sizzle!

AllAboutban

Today, I’m welcoming a brand new (to me at least!) author to the blog–P.A. Friday! P.A.’s new novelette contains not one, but three short stories, all packed with sexual tension! I struggle to keep anything I write short, so I was really curious as to how P.A. manages to pack so much into such a short format. P.A. was kind enough to satisfy my curiosity with the exclusive interview you see below. Enjoy!


I ought to admit straight out that I’m basically a Jack of All Trades when it comes to writing. Articles? Check. Novels? Check. Short fiction, flash fiction, Twitter fiction, poetry? Check…

Usually, though not always, I know what length something is going to be (or at least approximately what length it’ll be!) when I start writing, however. The three stories in All About The Boy were always intended to be about 5000 words long. So how do you write something which is a specific length?

AllAboutTheBoy-f500.jpgWell, first of all, I can’t tell you how anyone else does it! My way of writing has always been a little unusual, in that I’m not reliable about the whole “start at the beginning and go on until you reach the end, and then stop” business. If I have inspiration for bits of story, I’ll write those bits. And then sometimes I’ll have to wriggle things about a bit until all the pieces fit. In Making Amends, the middle story of the three in the anthology, I actually wrote the second half of the story first, and then went back to explain how we got to that point. (I hope it doesn’t seem that way when you read the story, though!)

By far the most important thing for me, though, no matter the length of the story, is the characters. Everything I write is character-driven. There’s a tendency for some people to write off erotica as all about ‘tab A in slot B’ but for me, that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is why these particular characters have that spark – and what sort of spark it is. Why has this man reacted to this other man in that particular fashion? How does he feel about it?

When you’ve only got 5000 words in which to spread yourself, obviously you can’t get too deeply into the complications of the human psyche in the same way you can with a novel. So you have to focus on something. An event. A trigger moment. Why this particular occasion was important for your character. Once you’ve got the event, if you know your character well enough – and I try to know my viewpoint character quite well before I start – it’s easy to follow through. I already know how he’d react, and why. My job then is to show this to the reader in such a way that they care about what happens to the character.

Oh, and – because this is, after all, erotica we’re talking about – to make it hot!

So I guess that’s what I’ve tried to do with my 5000 words: offer characters which seem real, and which readers can invest in, and then let the action go from there! And boy, is there action in these particular stories…


Thanks for the fascinating insight behind the scenes of All About the Boy, P.A.! To learn more about this collection of short hot stories, read on for the blurb and an excerpt.

Blurb:

Some men like gentle loving—others like to switch up the power. In P.A. Friday’s collection of stories, explore the raunchier, edgier side of lust—a space where domination and control can be the greatest turn-on.

From Stefan finding out the hard way just how straight he isn’t, Jake who has to learn to behave or take his punishment, to Kel juggling two very different lovers at his workplace, doing what you’re told has never been sexier.

Purchase:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All About Romance Ebooks

 

Author Bio:

P.A. Friday fails dismally to write one sort of thing and, when not writing erotica and erotic romance of all sexualities, may be found writing articles on the Regency period, pagan poetry, or science fiction. She loves wine and red peppers, and loathes coffee and mushrooms.

Contact P.A. Friday

Email: penfriday@gmail.com | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Excerpt:

Usually, Jake liked to do as he was told. He obeyed Alessandro’s every whim and behaved impeccably—especially in the presence of his master’s friends.

Usually.

It was not because he feared punishment that he did so, either. Far from it. It was because he loved the look on his master’s face when Jake was obedient. That expression of pride in his boy—in Jake—and the warmth of his smile. Jake would do anything for that look.

Still, there was one of Alessandro’s friends to whom Jake couldn’t take. No matter how many times he met the man, he didn’t warm to him—had, in fact, an instinctive revulsion towards him. In his presence, the temptation to disregard his usual obedience was always strong. It wasn’t the fact that Leo had once been Alessandro’s lover—Alessandro had had, and continued to have, any number of lovers. Indeed, with Alessandro’s permission, several had played with or been pleasured by Jake. But when it came to Leo, the rules changed.

 


Check out NineStar’s events calendar for information on additional blog stops for All About the Boy and other upcoming releases!