Updates from July, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Rebekah James 10:15 am on July 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Plotting and Scheming 

    This has been a long week, so long in fact that I just realized I was in danger of not posting either of my updates for ROW80. A lot of what happened was boring busy work that just seemed to pile up and needed to be done all at once, so nothing exciting to report, but combined with a summer cold, it just makes the days go slowly.

    I am still “on track” for my projects, but I am not necessarily generating a large word count – one of the things I realized was that I didn’t really know my characters, and that since I didn’t know them well, the plot I had etched out for them, wasn’t working because I suddenly found that they all were acting quite predictably  and honestly I was getting a little bored with the story. If I am bored, that is a very bad sign because it means that anyone who reads it will be bored – and worse, I caught my MC whining.

    So this week has been about character development. I have been metaphorically sitting down for a cup of coffee and talking to them (Well the coffee wasnt metaphorical for me but you know what I mean.) It has been an interesting week. I asked them about where they grew up, how they got where they are now, pulled pictures off the internet for them and even talked about favorite foods.  I’m probably scaring the neighbors since this means I have been spending a lot of time walking around talking to myself, but I now feel that I know them better and I can only think that will translate to a better story. Of course this also means that I have spent some time reworking the plot a bit too.

    Plotting always seems to be the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. I know people who are adamant that plotting is evil and that it ruins their creativity, and a first draft is all about making your mistakes. That may be true for some people, but as Terry Brooks, says in his book on writing Sometimes the Magic Works you will either solve the problems now or later because you will have to solve them eventually.  The question for me is never IF I need to plot, but rather HOW.

    Some people use index cards, others use sticky notes. I have a very large sheet of glass in my  office that I scribble all over with dry erase pens, but I am always looking for better ways to work things out. Do you do a synopsis of the story first like Margaret Weiss does for her books, or do you take a very long view and map out the major events in all 20 books in your series like Jim Butcher says he has for the Harry Dresden series?  I read an article yesterday that J.K. Rowling wrote scenes from all seven of the Harry Potter books before she  even really started on the first one, and then went back and built the plots for all of them.  Are you putting every scene on index cards and rearranging them? Do you use bullet points or maybe an excel sheet?  Do you develop your characters back stories first and let that determine your plot, or do you come up with the scenes first and then let them tell you from there?  How do YOU plot?



  • Rebekah James 8:03 am on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fantasy, , , , Romance   

    Advance Review – Riever’s Heart – Renee Wildes 

    Riever's heart - Renee WIldes

    As many of you know, I am not a huge romance reader, so it will probably surprise you that I’m going to say up front – I really liked this book. 4.5 of 5 stars liked it.  This will be available on Sept 27 from Samhain Press.  Or you can pre-order here

    Aryk is the leader of a clan facing a hard reality. The constant in fighting between the clans of Isadorijka causes endless, needless deaths, prevents his people from any real trade and ultimately keeps them living as barely more than barbarians do. To the outside world, they are nothing more than barbaric Rievers. Aryk is on a quest to unite the clans under one leader –himself – but to do that he has to not only overcome generations old traditions, but the army that a rival daq – clan chief- is building. Aryk knows that he cannot bring peace alone. In an attempt to prove to other nations that not all Isadorijkans are rievers, he forms new alliances, including the beautiful warrior Verdeen. She is conflicted – about her future, herself and most of all about the unexpected and intense attraction she feels for Aryk.

    Wildes has created a wonderful and complex world in this series, and knows her way around it well enough that even though I have read only one other book in the series, I never once felt like I needed a map to know what was going on. In fact, it stands alone quite nicely.  The story was told mostly from the point of view of Aryk, who didn’t know the back stories of any of the characters and so we are given just enough information to make this story work. Wildes did an excellent job of portraying the essence of the characters – We see a flash of the deep hatred Queen Dara has for rievers, the love that Cianan and Maleta share but since it is not relevant for Aryk to know the long back stories, we aren’t bogged down with them either. This story stands alone perfectly well. Wildes knows her characters well, and it is obvious that as each player steps on the stage, there is a fully formed personality behind it.  (and it inspires you to want to read the other books in the series, where they have more staring roles.

    The pace is fast, there is no filler here, and that includes the sex. This is a solidly built fantasy story, that could easily sit on the shelf with other fantasy series. There is of course a lot of sex because this is after all an erotic romance novel, but the sex is important to both plot and character building. The one thing I dislike that seems to be a recurring theme in many of the romance novels I have read – otherwise strong women who suddenly turn into raving sex kittens at the first sight of the Hero, and end up turning into jellyfish – is the very thing that Wildes has avoided. Verdeen, even in the midst of passion still has control of her senses and still makes smart decisions. She is conflicted, and second guesses herself, but it seems perfectly in keeping with her character. Verdeen is strong, but young even for an elf, and she notably grows throughout the book.  There is also a great deal of set up for future adventures, and at the end, I found myself already wishing for next book.

    4 out of 5 stars this time.

    • reneewildes1 7:53 pm on July 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks SO much for helping me get the word out about my new Guardians of Light book! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and hope it finds a warm place in many readers’ hearts!

  • Rebekah James 2:01 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Donna Newton, , , , , ,   

    ROW80 Update for 7-14-11 A Crash course and a close scrape 

    This one is  yet another short update. I have been very quiet on the twitter/Facebook/blog front lately because I have been really busy this week, and  with limited time available, I would rather focus on the writing.  My close friends already understand this, and well, those who are going to ‘unfollow’ because I was quite for a few days, probably were going to eventually when I wasn’t entertaining enough anyway.

    On Monday, I was in a small accident. Someone stepped in front of me in a very narrow space and I jerked the wheel to miss him and ended up hitting a very sturdy metal gate instead.  Aside from a very ugly scratch on the paint, scaring me to death and finding out that my inhaler needs to be refilled, everything is fine. Of course there has been some time devoted to taking to the insurance company and so on. (and explaining it to my husband several dozen times who swears HE wouldn’t have scraped the truck) As I told him and the insurance company –  I’m human and the sight of a living being about to be mowed over by my vehicle scared me and I veered away to prevent it. The guy I missed didn’t even realize his near miss until someone started yelling at him for stepping in front of me. I’m OK with this outcome even if I do have to get the truck repaired.  For the record, it is one really sturdy gate that I hit- didn’t even scratch the paint let alone cause damage to it.

    On the plus side, I did get a lot of things done this week while I was in my busy mode.  First and foremost, the deadline I was working on is finished and I actually did submit the work I intended to submit. Yay me right?  Now to wait for the reply.

    Part of the experience of this was that I asked Donna Newton, whom I respect tremendously, to go over the story for  me before I submitted it and she was gracious enough to do it for me.  I was thrilled that she liked it, but even more so, it was really impressive to see the master at work.  A few sentences smoothed out, a couple of little details added, and suddenly my story went from pretty good to nearly shiny.  I am very pleased with the result, and it was like getting a crash course in setting the scene and knowing which details need to be included.

    I also was asked to do a review for a book that will be released in September. That review will be posting on this site tomorrow, and I have been adding the review to my accounts everywhere else I can as well.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to be allowed to review Riever’s Heart, especially since Renee Wildes, the author, is not only a wonderful writer, but a wonderful person.

    Very proud of myself – I have managed to not only stay on track with my writing goals, but I am actually getting ahead of myself now, and have found a renewed enthusiast for my other work in progress.  The next few days will offer little in the way of writing time for me, but I am still confident I will make my daily goals.  I’m going to develop a little more backstory on my characters before going forward again.




    • Rebekah James 8:41 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      In his defense, Hubby hasn’t yelled at me, he isn’t happy about it, but he isn’t mad at me either. 🙂

    • Maria Zannini 6:58 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      The accident sounds scary. I can’t believe the guy wasn’t even aware he almost got hit.

      I’m glad at least you didn’t get hurt. You’re hubby should have congratulated you for saving that man’s life.

  • Rebekah James 12:31 pm on July 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    ROW80 – update for 7-11-11 

    Quick update about my ROW80 goals – why quick? Because I am busy with new projects and actually keeping to my goals so far and don’t want to lose momentum. This weekend I did pick up a new project which I think everyone will like. I started on a series of book reviews, and I finished – sort of – my short that is headed for submission later this week. I’m not entirely happy with the ending, and I think I dragged out a particular point too much, so this afternoon and tomorrow are going to be used for editing the story. I think I am still on schedule and averaging roughly 2k a day, which is actually above my goal of 1.5k. How is everyone else doing?

    • Sonia G Medeiros 10:57 pm on July 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Congrats! This is my first ROW80 and I’m loving it so far.

    • Sarah 6:12 pm on July 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Woot!! I love hearing about people who are doing great. It makes me feel like I really should be doing more, while also realizing that if I set my mind to it I really can just sit down and write.

      Congrats!! This short post helped boost my spirit. 😀

    • Julie Glover 5:38 pm on July 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like you’re keeping it up great! Hope the edits go smoothly. (That’s not always my favorite part.) I’m doing fine, but I may need to adjust a goal or two (one up, one down).

    • Cate Morgan 4:27 pm on July 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like you’ve been productive! Good job, and good luck the rest of the week. 🙂

    • Erin Brambilla 12:43 pm on July 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great job surpassing your goal. I’m on track which is great. Good luck this week.

  • Rebekah James 9:56 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    ROW80 – Update for 7-6-11 


    So far my first few days of ROW80 is a success. I spent a bit of time seriously considering what reasonable goals are to me, and having a talk with M about what is reasonable for our lifestyle overall. I am particularly blessed in that M is extremely supportive of my writing dreams, and he agreed on the proposed shifts in things. That done, I actually did do what I had scheduled for myself. I outlined both the plot and the MC for the short I have going this week. I did a LOT of research on what I needed to know for this as well, and actually started writing the initial scenes – about a third of the way done.  The deadline for this is July 15, so I am not on schedule for my terms.  The focus for the rest of the week will be about word count. Normally when I start writing, the first thing I do is to go back and edit what I did yesterday – checking that I am still following the same outline, or making adjustments as needed then add new.  Since I am writing a short and already have the outline, this time I intend to plow through to the goal (5k) in the next couple of days and then edit.  It feels a little like having one hand tied behind my back to try to do it this way, but I think since it is so short, it will be better overall.

    • deniz 8:22 pm on July 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Congratulations! How great that you might actually be finished the story soon. Wish I had a short story idea 🙂

    • Cinette 11:11 am on July 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I tend to backtrack endlessly in my writing, having to make it perfect before moving on, so my word count tends to lag behind. Once I read that Dean Koontz will edit page one 32 or more times before writing page 2, I didn’t feel so bad about it any more.

    • Jess 11:17 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great progress Rebekah! I’m very proud of you. I’m also concentrating less on word count and more on focusing efforts on really crafting my story carefully.

      It’s hard to NOT focus on word count when we have such prolific friends cranking out novels left and right…you and I can be the slow and sure tortoises in the back. 😉

      • Rebekah James 8:03 pm on July 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        LOL yes Jess, and that is the ultimate reason I dont like the word count contests – it forces you to compete with your friends, and then feel like you are not putting enough effort in or something.

        Sitting Bull was called Slow Turtle for the first half of his life before the incident that earned him his name – and look what he managed without writing a single word! LOL

    • Julie Glover 11:00 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It’s so nice to have support on the homefront! Sounds like you’re kicking it off well. Best wishes for ROW80!

      I need to get crackin’ on my ROW80 goals!

    • AmyBeth Inverness 10:50 am on July 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Huzzah for a good start!
      I’m also “shifting things” in order to make better progress in my writing.

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