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First and Last Lines

  Posted by Jemi , 26 January 2015 · 15 views

A year or so ago, I read some advice on writing out the first and last line of every chapter in a list (if this was on your blog, please give yourself a shout out in the comments for me!).

I don't remember all the reasons, but as I'm reading through my NaNo novel, I'm keeping track of these lines in a file within my Scrivener folder and I'm finding some interesting things.
  • only a few of my first lines really stink
  • some of them are even pretty good
  • my last lines are often very short - 1-3 words
  • my characters are pretty sarcastic
  • putting the 1st and last lines together gives a great summary of the chapter's emotion
  • reading the list through gives a great sense of the story - and of the pace (which I always need help with). Much more helpful for editing than I expected
Doing this has helped me see I've grown as a writer too. I'm coming into scenes later and exiting earlier - trusting in the reader more. (Thanks to my fabulous CPs once again!!!)

Have you ever tried this? Any great first or last lines to share?


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Keep Calm & Scrivener On!

  Posted by Jemi , 12 January 2015 · 29 views

So, I'm reading through my NaNo draft and finding lots to like...and more than a few things that just don't work. Pretty normal for a 1st draft, I'd say.

I've now realized I've got to switch the order of 2 of the Major Events. This will entail millions (or so it seems) of ripple effect changes throughout the entire story. More or less a complete rewrite while keeping the essence of the story.

Slightly terrifying! Exciting too.

If you've used Scrivener, you know that you can make notes on each file (scenes for me) and notes for the entire document. I use that one to keep track of the Big Idea Changes I need to make -- things like making one character more evasive, make the other crankier, keep the sexual tension up, add description etc.

I also keep a couple of folders that aren't part of the ms. Inside my Outlines folder, I have my rather pathetic attempts to plot. One is a (far too brief) synopsis, another has a chart outlining proposed chapters, another has a bullet list for main ideas of each chapter, and so on. Because I might actually be the world's worst plotter, there are far too many files and I'm about to add at least one more with my newest ideas for rearranging the plot lines. Hoping to find a method that really works for me soon,

Another folder is my To Do Folder with Things to Add, Big Ideas, & Fix This!

Depending on my mood and need, I can keep one of these files open alongside my current chapter. Or I can keep my current chapter in one window and the new version in the other. GREAT way to use the good bits and eliminate the garbage.

Then, I can easily slip the scenes around the MS with a few drags of the mouse. For me, it makes the rewriting process a lot less daunting and the mountain I've got to climb doesn't seem as steep.

Are you a Scrivener fan? Any tips to share? How do you feel about those major rewrites? Any magic wands to turn me into a Plotter Extraordinaire?

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Happy Giveaway!

  Posted by Jemi , 01 January 2015 · 54 views

And Happy New Year too!

I hope 2015 is YOUR year and you find all kinds of wonderful moments to treasure.

To celebrate a fresh start for 2015, over at From the Write Angle we're celebrating with a huge Giveaway. Check out this list!

R.C. Lewis - Signed STITCHING SNOW
MarcyKate Connolly - Signed MONSTROUS (On release date)
Mindy McGinnis - Signed NOT A DROP TO DRINK & IN A HANDFUL OF DUST
Sophie Perinot - Signed SISTER QUEENS & DAY OF FIRE
S.L. Duncan - Signed THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM
Cat Woods - Signed TALES FROM THE BULLY BOX and WHISPERING MINDS
Jemi Fraser - Kindle editions of SUBMISSION & SURRENDER by Cali McKay and EGGNOG & CANDY CANES by Jean Oram
Matt SinclairWINTER'S REGRET anthology from Elephant's Bookshelf Press
R.S. Mellette - Signed BILLY BOBBLE MAKES A MAGIC WAND
J. Lea Lopez - Signed SORRY'S NOT ENOUGH
Riley RedgateEXTRACTION by Stephanie Diaz

As you can see, many of my talented buddies are already published (or have debuts coming out soon) and the books range from MG to YA to historical fiction to romance. So many great books!

Hurry over and enter - what better way to start the new year than with free books! Good luck!!

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I Wish

  Posted by Jemi , 22 December 2014 · 36 views

'Tis the season for wishes! The next few weeks look to be filled with family, love,, and barely controlled chaos (so, pretty much normal for around here :)), and I'm not sure how much I'll be around the bloggy-verse. In case I don't catch up with you, I thought I'd send you my wishes now!

I wish you...

  • a warm and happy home filled with love
  • a friendly face to greet you every day
  • time to relax and enjoy and just 'be'
  • the opportunity to stretch your wings
  • a joyous holiday season
  • that special something you've been secretly craving
  • a healthy, happy, fun, and fulfilling 2015

What's one of your wishes? What's that special something for you?


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Wrapping it Up

  Posted by Jemi , 08 December 2014 · 38 views

I'm finishing up my NaNo draft - 64k and counting. I've left myself tons of notes along the way about things to add, things to polish, and things to change.

The last few chapters are waiting for me and I have to plow my way through. While I have an idea what's going to happen (the main characters will live and get their HEA), it's the getting there that's tough. 

Endings aren't easy for me. Tying all those plot lines together isn't my strength - probably because I don't plot in advance. One of my MCs is currently in major trouble and the other is oblivious, but closing in.

The next few scenes need to be full of action and emotion. I think I'm good with the emotional part of it all, but the action sequences are more difficult. By focusing on the emotion of the characters going through the actions, my writing is getting stronger, but it's not there yet. I'll probably end up rewriting these chapters a dozen times. *sigh*

How about you, are you good at wrapping it all up at the end of your stories, or is it a challenge for you, too?


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Note to Self

  Posted by Jemi , 24 November 2014 · 62 views

It's a bit early, but I've managed to squeak across that 50k NaNoWriMo finish line! The draft's not done yet, probably still another 20k to go. Hoping to have most of that wrapped up before the chaos of Christmas prep begins so I can let it simmer a bit over the holidays.

When I'm drafting, I don't fine tune as I go. Instead I leave myself notes on how to fix things later.

  • this is all telling
  • cliche alert!
  • this stinks, but the core of the scene is good
  • this isn't the right word
  • do a find search for probably & maybe
  • check to see how many days have passed
  • what colour is his hair??
  • add in some scene setting
  • does the doctor have a last name?
  • good place to add description
  • blech - fix this

Do you leave yourself notes as you go? Or do you have to stop and fix it at the time?

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First Draft Frenzy

  Posted by Jemi , 10 November 2014 · 77 views

Thanks so much for all of your kind words in my last post. Dealing with grief is tough, but we're coping. Mostly :)

I'm having a blast with my new NaNo draft. As of October 31st, I didn't have a clue who my characters were or what their story was, but it's flowing!

Writing first drafts is my absolute favourite part of the writing journey. And, as an added bonus, I'm getting better at them. Usually I have a bit more of a foundation to start with. I don't outline, but I generally have a solid idea of who my characters are, what drives them, what's holding them back, and how they need to grow.

I also usually know (in the loosest sense of the word) my ending. Definitely a bonus (for me) of writing romance is I know the end goal before I write a single word. I want my characters to grow enough to be able to trust another person with their heart.

Sounds simple, which is where the internal and external conflicts come into play - and where the fun is to be had!

So, I'm having a fabulous time watching both of my characters work hard to hide their pasts and shield their hearts, knowing it's not going to do them a bit of good in the long run!

What's your favourite thing about the writing stage you're at right now? Are you a first draft fan too? If you're doing NaNo too, I'm jemifraser over there if you want to buddy up!

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Climbing out of the Quagmire

  Posted by Jemi , 31 October 2014 · 45 views

The last few months have been really rough here. A close family member lost her fierce battle with cancer and we're all reeling with the emotions (obviously). My go-to response to fear and sadness and tragedy is cooking/baking and I've stocked up everyone's freezers & fridges with enough soup, lasagnas, meatballs, chili, muffins, and cookies to last them through the next few weeks.

My creativity has been pretty much shot since we heard the news back in January, but I want to give myself a boost, so I've signed my foolish self up for NaNo again. I really don't need another first draft kicking around - I have 3 stories ready for those final revising rounds as well as 3 more first drafts with lots of potential and lots of needs. But, my heart is sore and weary and I'm hoping this might help me rebound.

As usual, I have no plan, no plot, no outline. Heck, I don't even have character names yet. But I think this one will involve some hi-jinks in the snow. Or not. I guess I'll find out soon! One thing I do know is there will be a HEA (happy every after) because that's exactly what I need right now.

So, if you're on the NaNo trail, join me (I'm jemifraser over there) and let's pound out some words together!

And if you're so inclined, pop on over to From the Write Angle, where we're talking NaNo as well.

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Robin Gianna & Keeping the Muse Alive

  Posted by Jemi , 27 October 2014 · 59 views

Please welcome Robin Gianna to the blog today!
***

When Life gets Rough, how can you Keep the Muse Alive?

First, thank you, Jemi, for having me here today!  I’m going to share a bit about my recent life
challenges, in the hope some of you may find what I’ve learned in the process helpful to your own writing life.

Everyone handles life’s challenges differently.  I know people who find solace in their writing.  When life is otherwise full of problems, they retreat into their imaginary world of story to replenish and heal.

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself to be the opposite of that, which has proven to be a not-good thing!  About five years ago, before I was published, my parents had one health crisis after another before my father passed away.  I was responsible for taking care of everything—getting them in and out of the hospital and rehab, doing their grocery shopping, and you-name-it.  It was challenging,  especially since I had all three of my children still at home then.  My writing was the first thing I threw aside, because it seemed the most expendable.  And what that really shows, I now realize, is that my own needs and wants are always the first to go, which isn’t the best way to keep myself healthy and able to care for everyone.

This year, my mother’s health has dramatically declined, and again, it’s been up to me to manage all that entails - doctors, hospitals, caregivers, bills, hospice.  I have only one child home now, but even college kids need  help moving into new apartments, and obviously being with them is something I love to do.  I feel guilt when I don’t spend time with my dying mother, and guilt when I don’t spend enough time with my children or my husband.  And now that I’m a published author, I feel guilt that I’m falling short there, too.

Believe me, there’s more guilt than you can imagine that my current manuscript is quite late!

I’ve been beating myself up about all of this, because I think that’s what women do.  We try to be everything to everyone, and eventually it takes its toll.  So I’ve finally learned a few things about handling crises while still somehow keeping our muse alive:

1.   Ask for support and accountability from writer friends.  Agree on some kind of daily word count you will be accountable for.  Even if it’s something very small, it will keep you in the story, give you a positive feeling that you’re still making progress on your wip, and you’ll have the emotional support of your friend/s as well.

2.   Find a place in your wip where you can use some of the emotions you’re feeling.  If you’re going through a divorce, think about how that pain can apply to a character’s past or present.  If you’re losing or have lost a loved one, is there a character who has had to deal with that in their past?  Mine those emotions.  You may find it enriches your manuscript at the same time it’s an outlet for the feelings you may otherwise be keeping bottled up.

3.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  I have a tendency to say to myself, “But Author X writes 5,000 words a day!  Why can’t I do better, get more done, since I’m so behind?”  The answer is, because I’m not Author X.  There are some days I can crank out that kind of word-count.  But on a consistent basis, I just can’t.  And that’s okay.  I have to find what works for me, especially when I have so many other demands on my time.  But do sit down and write, even if it’s only for half an hour.  You’ll be happier knowing you haven’t thrown your writing completely aside, which never feels good.

4.  Ask for help.  I don’t know about you, but I think that, when times get tough, we tend to put our heads down, grit our teeth, and GO, taking everything upon our own shoulders.  A couple months ago, I felt like I was drowning in all I had to do while feeling emotionally drained as well.  Something happened that showed my husband how really on the edge I was, and he said in surprise, “Are you feeling stressed?”  At first I stared in disbelief, then felt angry.  How could he not know I was beyond stressed?  Then I realized it was my fault.  It was because I was doing that head-down and go thing, not sharing how I was feeling, and not asking for help.  That was eye-opening to me, and I began to open up more and ask for help from him and from my kids. 

5.  If you’re published, be honest with your agent and/or editor.  While I was trying to convince myself I really could finish the book in time, I was reluctant to be honest with my agent and editor about what was going on with me.  When I finally did, it was a tremendous relief.  Both were sweet, understanding and helpful.  Knowing they were supporting me instead of frowning, and learning it wasn’t a problem for me to have a little more time, went such a long way to my feeling better.  Consequently, I was able to relax enough to get the juices flowing and make my muse smile again.

6.  Be kind to yourself.  Give yourself credit for doing the best you can, even if it feels like you’re falling short.  Take that long walk, or hot bath, or get that haircut you’ve been needing but felt you didn’t have time for.  Know that others understand.  And if that book takes longer to write than you wanted it to?  The sun will still come up in the morning, and soon, the days will look brighter.  They will.


After completing a degree in journalism, working in the advertising industry, then becoming a stay-at-home mom, Robin Gianna had what she likes to call her ‘awakening’. While on vacation, lying in the sun with a beach read, she realized she wanted to write the romance novels she'd loved since her teens.

Robin loves pushing her characters toward their own happily-ever-afters! When she's not writing, Robin's life is filled with a happily messy kitchen, a needy garden, a wonderful husband, three great kids, a drooling bulldog and one grouchy Siamese cat.

Robin Gianna on the web:
Website             Facebook         Twitter

FLIRTING WITH DR. OFF-LIMITS
Flirting with the forbidden… 

For intern Dr. Katy Pappas, seeing delectable surgeon Alec Armstrong again is sweet torture! He might have rejected her after their sinfully delicious kiss years before, but he still sets her pulse racing!
Alec is captivated by gorgeous, grown-up Katy. But as his best friend's sister, a colleague and his student, Katy is definitely off-limits! He's made the mistake of mixing business with pleasure before, and he won't risk Katy's career. Yet can he resist the oh-so-wrong when it feels oh-so-right…?


Read ReaderReviews
Read an Excerpt

Buy Links:

Amazon         Amazon Aus               Amazon UK

Mills & Boon UK         Mills & Boon Aust

Harlequin US                 B&N

Enter this Goodreads Giveaway to win signed copies!

Enter this to win!



***
Wow. Timely post for me. We lost someone very special in our lives just last week and the stress for the last several months has been beyond believable (still is). You've expressed it so well here. I also tend to do that head-down thing. Time to lift up my chin! Thanks!!

How about you, any of Robin's pointers helping you out as well!


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Amy Ruttan & Signing with an Agent

  Posted by Jemi , 20 October 2014 · 70 views

(If you're looking for a post about the fabulous Lenny Lee, scroll down to the one below this one (or click here) ... after you've visited with Amy that is!!)

Please welcome Amy Ruttan to the blog today!

***

Why an agent was right for me.

First off I want to thank  Jemi Fraser for having me here today!

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been getting lately is why I decided to sign with an agent.
Before Harlequin, I published via eBook publishers. There was no need for an agent and then when I sold to Harlequin, I did that on my own without an agent.

In May 2014 I decided to pursue an agent. One I admired and had been following for some time. He knows Harlequin, he’s professional and I admire several of the authors he represents.

So again, why did I query him? I don’t technically need an agent for Harlequin. I had signed two contracts with Harlequin without an agent, but when I made the decision in May to query my agent it’s because I wanted my career path to go further.

I love Harlequin and I love writing for Medicals, but I have a specific career path in my head that I want to take. I still plan on writing for Medicals as long as they’ll have me, but I wanted more and the path I wanted to take …well I wanted an agent to help me down that path.

Signing with my agent was not a spur of the moment thing. I researched for a long time to see who might be the right fit. I say right fit because honestly you don’t know until you talk to them over the phone or meet them face-to-face.

I queried him and he requested partials from me, which he read and then we talked on the phone. He wanted to make sure that this is what I wanted from my writing career and he wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We were!

Publishing is a constantly moving and changing beast. I wanted someone to advocate for me, someone to help navigate me on the right path for my career and the brand I’ve been building for myself and I wanted an agent who loved my work.

I think an agent who believes in your work and really gets your voice will advocate the best for you.

And that’s basically why I signed with my agent. It really depends on you. Think about why you want to sign with an agent, because an agent can’t guarantee you sales, but they do open doors to some house who only take agented submissions.

Make sure you don’t sign with just any agent. Make sure you and your potential agent work well together and that the agent is reputable meaning that they’re a part of the AAR’s or follow their code of ethics (they don’t charge you for reading fees).

And an agent who is right for author A may not be right for author B. Make the decision and do the research yourself. Don’t let anyone else decide for you.


It all depends on the choices you want to make in your writing career, because each writer has a different road to walk. Not all paths are the same.


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Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Amy fled the big city to settle down with the country boy of her dreams. When she's not furiously typing away at her computer, she's a mom to three children.
Life got in the way, and after the birth of her second child, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a romance author.

Find her here:
Website       Twitter        Facebook

DARE SHE DATE AGAIN?
To love again…? 

Single mom and paramedic Samantha Doxtator has been living with a broken heart after losing her husband years ago. Now she's finally back on track and following her dream to become an air ambulance pilot…after training one last student—George Atavik!

Since nearly losing his life in a plane crash, George will not waste the second chance he's been given, and he won't deny the sparks flying between him and his new mentor. Does Samantha dare risk her own carefully guarded heart for another opportunity at happiness?

Read an Excerpt

Buy Links

Mills & Boon UK      Harlequin US     Dare She Date Again?http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=wwwnasdeanblo-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00JZFL5QOon Amazon Kindle      Mills & Boon Aust
Enter this Goodreads Giveaway to win signed copies!
 Enter this to win!
 Thanks so much, Amy! I love how you really researched and planned out your writing path. A great example for the rest of us! 
How about you, are you good at planning out your path?


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