Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hold your nose and type. How to write a novel in three days. The aaargh! draft.

Quick sales pitch:  Superbargain (but not for long!) my million copy NYT bestseller MODERN WOMEN  Only 99c! Get it while it's hot (and it is!) ;-)

I originally wrote this post about the up side of writing fast for Romance University but, as NaNoWriMo approaches, I thought it might be relevant to re-post. I'm also including a link to an inspiring post by Michael Moorcock, the prolific and highly influential English writer of fantasy and sci-fi, with nitty-gritty advice on how to write a novel in three days. I hope these two posts will help jump start your NaNoWriMo participation & get you off to a great start—and a brilliant finish.


As we head for NaNoWriMo, I’m going to talk about another (much less frequently suggested) but equally anatomically impossible act: the plusses of holding your nose & typing. But, you ask, won’t I add to the “tsunami of crap”? The answer is yes, of course, but let me remind you that writing slowly & agonizingly can also result in unspeakable crap. (Ask me how I know. ;-)) So, you choose.

By writing fast, you warm up the engine and get it running. You quash the inner scold, that mahatma of negativity that rains on your parade. By writing fast, you don’t have time to censor or second-guess yourself and you avoid  wasting time obsessing over whether your hero should be blond, brunette or a power-baldy √† la Bruce Willis. You can always figure that out later and, more often than not, as the character engages and develops, hair color (or lack of hair) will become obvious.

Writing fast increases your chances of “getting into the flow” and gaining access to your sub-conscious or what Steven King calls “the boys downstairs.” Those “boys”—or girls if you’re of the female persuasion—are the source of inspiration. They are the ones who come up with the unexpected (even to the writer!) plot twist and help you get the work done.

As the words and the pages pile up, you give yourself the gift of a sense of accomplishment. Where there was nothing, there is now something and the mere fact that there’s “something” where once there was nothing builds confidence.

Last—but hardly least—of all, writing fast is professionally crucial in these days of self-publishing because a new book helps sell the old books. Just ask Joe Konrath or Dean Wesley Smith.

Now that I’ve persuaded you (I have, haven't I?) of the plusses of writing fast, one obvious question rises:  How do you make yourself write when you’re tired, distracted, uninspired or just plain “not in the mood?”
  • My friend Rona Jaffe used to “read something good.” Which meant one of her already-published books. For Rona, reading her own work reminded her of what she did well & what she’d been successful at.
  • Other writers read something by an author whose work they admire.
  • Coffee works for some. Propulsive rock for others. Vivaldi’s The Seasons for still others.
  • An external deadline can help: a contract or even a promise to someone else—including the dog who is in need of a walk.
  • Setting a word target, a time target, a scene target adds focus in the form of an achievable goal.
  • Do you respond better to the kiss or the whip? If the first, promise yourself a Dove Bar at the end of your just-get-it-down writing session. If the whip, then no dessert for you tonight unless you get your quota filled!
Shut the door, turn off the phone, the internet, do whatever you have to do to get the job done.  Adapt Nora Roberts’ approach: you will tolerate interruption only in the case of “blood or fire.”

Just dive in and power through because once you’ve got something—almost anything—down on paper or, these days, on the screen, you have a point of departure. You can always fix it later. If you don’t have something down, there’s nothing to fix. duh.

In the Universe of Writing Fast, there are a number of possible outcomes:
  • Might be much better than you think & just needs a light edit. Yay!
  • Might be pretty good but needs a careful edit. OK, editing is just part of the job of being a writer so get on with it.
  • Might be dull, drab & needs major, butt-in-chair revision. That’s OK, too, because revision is also part of the job.
  • The aaargh! draft: So what you wrote is real crapola & needs a four-corners rewrite. Don’t let that get you down. As I always say, It ain’t the writing it’s the rewriting. Professionals know it & the aaargh! draft is the perfect case in point.
  • Even worse than the aaargh draft is draft so putrid that it threatens the integrity of the time-space continuum. We’ve all been there, done that & that’s why keyboards come with delete buttons. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean you have to publish it or even that anyone else has to see it. Just trash it & move on.
  • Saving best for last: OMG! Did I write that? It’s just about the best feeling a writer can have and, when you write fast, you outrun your insecurities & second guesses, your tendency to “fix” & diddle, you’re also raising the odds of the OMG!-Did-I-write-? moment.
When this post appeared on RomU, my blog partner, Anne R. Allen, made a highly relevant comment:

"Last month I forced myself to pound out a daily word count on a book due next week. Now that I’m revising, I’m finding it’s much easier than if I had nothing on the page. Another big plus–I simply outlined some scenes that I thought would need heavy research and now I’m finding I don’t need the scenes! Saved myself a bunch of time."

Anne is making a major point. I cannot tell you how much time I have spent (wasted) polishing/editing/researching/revising chapters that I find out later need to be cut. Seriously.

So write fast & write on and maybe even write a novel in three days!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Steve Jobs's yacht. Ian McEwan on the novella. Great movie taglines. Hurricane Sandy.

Happy to report M & I are safe, sound and dry here in NYC. We even have power so count us among the lucky. Grey, heavy clouds, windy outside. No subways/busses; bridges & tunnels closed. Almost no traffic. The city that never sleeps has taken it on the chops. Eerie days.

Here's distraction:

Some notes on the novella by Ian McEwan.

The rich are certainly different. Steve Jobs's yacht.

Dept of Nostalgia: 66 great movie taglines.

To those in the Sandy zone: Stay safe & remember that this, too, shall pass.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mutant verbs. Poundage & "my second favorite writer." 25 best blogs & 10 things never to flush down the toilet. Apocalypse shopping.

Verbification. Does it enrich our language? Or is it sending it straight to hell? Mutant verbs.

Poundage & "my second favorite writer." R.L. Stine.

25 best blogs.

10 things you should never flush down the toilet.

Here in NYC today we're waiting to see if Hurricane Sandy is going to less bad/more bad than everyone imagines. Meanwhile, the stores have been stripped as NYers indulge in Apocalypse Shopping.

Right now, I'm at Anne R. Allen's blog posting about 8 Ways to Improve Your Writing. Here's the direct link:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The island where people forget to die. A lost Elmo doll has a great vacation. How to write a novel.

Really, really old—like 100!—physically robust & with all faculties intact? The island where people forget to die.

A lost Elmo doll enjoys a great vacation—& is then returned to its very very happy owner.

How to write a novel by someone who does it very successfully. Tim Lott.

Have a good weekend! Have a good time! Live long & live well!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baby boomer humor. Martha Radditz. An ode to the em dash.

If you knew now what you're gonna know a few years from now, would you pay any attention to yourself? (Or would you still think you're fat?) Baby boomer humor.

She reports from war zones. And she's a Mom. A presidential debate & she should be nervous?  You're kidding, right? Martha Radditz.

In praise of the gorgeous, lovely & infinitely useful em dash.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cute baby animals: a lil walrus named Mitik + how to rescue a baby elephant. Irresistible.

Cute baby animals today!

A 234 pound orphaned baby walrus with expressive eyes feels the love. Mitik.

How to rescue a baby elephant who fell into a well. Persistence. And wait for the end when Mom and baby are reunited! Irresistible.

Plus the adventures of an orphaned baby rhino, her animal friends and the people—a scientist who studies animal intelligence & a spunky veterinarian—who rescue her. Zuri.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Male models, flip-flops & Phil Collins. James Patterson's 10 favorite detectives. The surprising secret to success.

Today we have the dumbass rich, the smart & successful rich and the secret to getting ahead:

The rich ARE different, Part Deux. Private jets, black gloves for touching silverware, white gloves for laying the table, male models, flip-flops & Phil Collins. Wretched excess.

He's sold 260 million books sold and had 19 consecutive No. 1 best sellers, so he should know, right? James Patterson's 10 favorite detectives.

The secret to getting ahead at the office. Brains? Hard work? Brown nosing? Not necessarily.

Looking for something good to read this weekend? How about some classy NYT bestselling romantic women's fiction?  One—or all—of the books in my Park Avenue Series might appeal.

Maybe a thriller?  Take a look at HOOKED & BRAINWASHED (right now only 99c!) Both are in the top 100 on the Political Thriller bestseller list.

Or for something different: ZURI. A story with an unusual heroine, a sad little orphaned baby rhino,  plus the people who love her but need to learn to love each other.  ZURI has all 5-star ratings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Women & their periods. Christians & vaginas. PMS & the wandering womb. Billionaires. Tampons.

Feeling bloated? Bitchy? Moody? What could the reason be? Oh! Don't tell me! I know. It's PMS.

More about women & their periods. Maxipad company replies to man's Facebook rant with awe-inspiring sarcasm.

Even more about women & their lady parts. The year of living Biblically: Christians and vaginas.

Billionaires (Wait! how did they get into a gyno-oriented post? Well, since we're PMSing, we'll take this opportunity to diss them): The rich ARE different. And not in a good way.

Since we're mostly about women & their biology today, I'll end with a joke about tampons—

Dan and Stan were sitting on a bench, wondering what to do. They only had $5 between them and they wanted to do something fun. Five dollars wasn't enough to go to the movies, get drinks at a bar, eat a nice meal or anything they liked to do.

Exasperated, Stan says "just give me the $5, I'll go in that Rite-Aid and find something. Just trust me, I'll figure something out." Dan gives him the five and waits outside.

A few minutes later, Stan emerges with a huge smile on his face. "Dan! I found the perfect thing! It's so awesome, you're never going to believe it!"

"OK...what did you get?" Stan proudly holds out a box of tampons. Dan says "What the hell did you get those for?!"

Stan says "Dude, read the side of the box. With these, we can go swimming, we can go horseback riding, we can play tennis...."

So, dear readers, do tell: Does a joke help with the bitchy mood & bloated feeling? OK. I didn't really think so. ;-)

Good news department: THE LAST ROMANTICS, Book #5 in the Park Avenue Series is now available at Nook.  TLR is set in Paris and New York in the 1920's. It's a romance between characters who will remind readers of Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. If you like well-researched historical romance, glamor, and Jazz Age celebrities, I think you will enjoy it. The other four novels in the Park Avenue Series—DECADES, HUSBANDS AND LOVERS, LOVE AND MONEY, MODERN WOMEN—are also available at Nook.

The entire Park Avenue Series is also available on Kindle. Unless, I've screwed up badly, a click on the covers to the right will take you to the Kindle pages.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Martina Navratilova. Carrie Fisher. Wally Lamb. Shrinks & the tennis stars who need them. James Bond, Daniel Craig & Javier Bardem.

Plus Tim Robbins, Suzanne Somers and more Baby Boomers with birthdays.

The psychologist who helped Andy Murray break his Grand Slam drought. Shrinks and the tennis stars who need them.

Bond. James Bond. Plus Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem & Skyfall.

And don't forget  Judy Dench is back playing M. In a bigger role according to movie gossip. How would you feel about having Judy as a boss? She'd certainly be a challenge, wouldn't she? Enough of a challenge to send you to the shrink? And how about a scene with James Bond on the couch? What would he talk about? What would the shrink say? If anything. Hmmmm....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Twitter fiction by famous writers. McCartney's "Yesterday," Creativity. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Today is all about the many (and often mysterious) ways of creativity.

From chemistry's periodic table to McCartney's "Yesterday" to a Schwarzenegger action movie: Breakthroughs that came while sleeping.

Can the older brain be even MORE creative? Creativity and aging.

From Ian Rankin and Helen Fielding to Jeffrey Archer and Jilly Cooper: Twitter fiction in less that 140 characters.

For me, the creative moment can come at any time & in any place. Sometimes it sneaks up on me when I least expect it--always a nice bonus!  Have you noticed any patterns to your own creativity? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

From 34B to 34DD. Crappy software. Wives, girlfriends & the peloton: Team Armstrong.

The stories that got me going today:

From 34B to 34DD. You won't need a state-of-the-art GPS to find these.

The real reason Silicon Valley coders write such lousy software. It's not just binary.

The advantage—or is it?—of having a literary parent.

Wives, girlfriends & the peloton. Team Armstrong.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eat chocolate & boost your IQ. James Bond's body count. Eat, pray love like a mofo. A Soviet-era memoir.

Chocolate boosts your IQ. Enough to win a Nobel Price? Could be. At least science says so.

Eat. Pray. Love like a mofo.

Neat infographic of body count: James Bond.

He grew up near the Kremlin and tells of the privilege & the fear. Memoir by the son of an oligarch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Elmore Leonard, Nora Roberts & Paul Simon. The 10 best sex guides. Why handwriting matters.

Today we have boomers. Sex guides (not that anyone reading this blog needs one!).  Pen & paper—low tech but still gets the job done:

Elmore Leonard, Nora Roberts & Paul Simon have something in common. Can you guess what it is?
PLUS Elmore Leonard talks about how he writes, how long it takes and what it takes to get him excited.

The 10 best sex guides.

Why handwriting still matters. Pen and paper. Paper and pencil.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Steve Jobs' high school girl friend. Cooties, FAQs, Bellinis. How to break through a creative block. New cars & sweaty socks.

Think different? Or same old-same old? Seems like the second to me but what do you think?

Steve Jobs' high school girl friend to publish a memoir. What next? His baby sitter? Desperate publishers.

Cooties. FAQs. Bellinis. The OED needs your help.

Now they tell me! How to break through your creative block by people who've been there, done that.

A luxury locker room that smells like a new car. Not sweaty socks. Jacksonville Jaguars.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Playboy interviews Lee Child. Everyday inspiration. Her $6 billion dollar mistake. #ModelProblems.

 Career changes, character arcs & everyday inspiration.

Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise and the head butt. Playboy interviews Lee Child.

Everyday inspirational moments that led to career switches, broken engagements, even escapes from New York. Turning points.

She took the fall for JP Morgan. Her $6 billion mistake took down the most powerful woman on Wall Street. Ina Drew.

But what about my broken nail? #ModelProblems

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fran Lebowitz on writer's block, gays & straights, the Cockettes. Elvis Presley's girl. Gay Talese.

Q: How many secretaries/assistants does it take to maintain Gay Talese's files? More than it takes to change a light bulb for sure. ;-)
Today's mix:

Writer's block, AIDS, gays & straights, the Cockettes. Q and A with Fran Lebowitz.

Hard times, rockabilly & being Elvis Presley's girl. Wanda Jackson.

Notes from the underground. Gay Talese.

Jeff Bezos. Jeffrey Katzenberg. Lloyd Blankfein. If you don't know who they are, you should. Google to the rescue. Bald is Beautiful Powerful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Manderly on Broadway. Endangered men. Paris is brewing. Tylenol for existential pain?

We're starting with a mysterious death from malaria and ending with help for existential pain—

Broadway more Gothic than Manderly? Rebecca.

Sounds like bullbleep to me but here it is. Men: an endangered species?

In Paris? Looking for a good cup of coffee?

Suffering existential pain? Science says, take two Tylenol.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Boomers with birthdays. John Lennon. Kurt Vonnegut. Great action scenes. October, 1962

Boomers, writers, editors & cultural change today:

Maya Lin, Sting, Susan Sarandon. Boomers with birthdays.

John Lennon. Arthur Conan Doyle. Kurt Vonnegut. Letters, we've got letters.

How to write a dynamite action scene. Or, what a good editor can do for you. Jodie Renner.

The month modern culture was born? October, 1962.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Glow-in-the-dark toenails & 3-eyed fish. Inspiration. Insanely overpriced products. A $5000 prize.

What it takes to write a memoir: time, distance, finding a voice. The extraordinary story behind the book that took 50 years to write. THE ATOMIC TIMES.

Great moments in inspiration.

Overpriced products. 20 most insane markups.

AndWeWereHungry, a New Literary & Arts Online Magazine, Announces Inaugural Short Story Contest. Four winning writers will share prize fund of $5,000 and publication in the inaugural Winter 2013 issue. Contest writing theme is “AndWeWereHungry.” Top prize reserved for the short story that connects the theme with nature, in honor of the short story contest's sponsor, "Ashes and Snow" artist Gregory Colbert. No entry fee, deadline November 30, 2012. The Magazine publishes original creative writing in the form of fiction (more than 1000 words), flash fiction (1000 words or less), creative nonfiction, and poetry; as well as essays, photography and visual arts.