This weekend we're celebrating audio books.
Sandra Leesmith is giving away five audio books to weekend commenters.
Winners choice of one audio book. Your pick from from these titles!
Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.
We Have Winners
Giveaway rules can be found here. Drop us a line to claim your giveaway at email@example.com. Please allow us the 6-8 weeks per our legal page to get your prize sent out.
** Effective 5/31/16 all winners are required to submit their address and phone number to verify their identity even if they win an e-prize. This is due to scammers attempting to claim prizes. ***
All prizes not claimed in 8 weeks go back into the prize vault. We wish we could contact all our winners individually, but we'd rather write books!
Weekend Edition Winners of Mary Connealy's No Way Up are Winnie Thomas, and Rachael Koppendrayer.
Janet Dean is your hostess Monday. She shared about chacterization in her post "Put Meat, Not Fat, on the Bones of Your Characters." Dawn Leonard is the winner of The Bounty Hunter's Redemption.
We were super excited to have Villager Meg Brummer guest host in Seekerville on Tuesday with "The Art of Drive-By Writing." Vince is the winner of a Seeker Book of Choice.
Author and professional coffee drinker, Jaime Jo Wright was our guest on Wednesday, with her post, "End of Chapter Hooks." Sandy Smith is the winner of her choice of a print or e copy of The Cowboy Bride's Collection from Barbour Publishing, featuring her novella, "The Cowgirl's Lasso!"
Thursday Erica Vetsch returned with "You've Got Style." She shared the ins and outs of an author Style Sheet. Katie Hart is the winner of His Prairie Sweetheart!
Next Week in Seekerville
|“…sit back. Relax. Kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and get your ear buds in. It’s audio book time!” ~ David Radtke|
Monday: Today we bring you a contest primer along with advice from divas, with a post called, "How to Be Successful in Romance Writing Contests: And Stop Throwing Away Money." Let's get ready for the big end of year contests (the Genesis and the Golden Heart) NOW. Lots of information. Bring your questions. The prize vault is open!
Tuesday: Come on over and join in the First Annual Strawberry Festival with Ruth Logan Herne! June is berry month in the Northeast, and what better way to celebrate that than to chat about why SMALL TOWN ROMANCE is such a hot seller in multiple genres, and nobody loves sweet Americana more than the Ruthinator. Come on over for some old-fashioned strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream and let's talk about Main Street, U.S.A. and romance!
Wednesday: Brandy Vallance returns to Seekerville with her post, "Writing Scared: The Best Way Out Is Always Through." Stop by to chat and you could win a copy of Within the Veil, her brand new release.
Thursday: Tina Radcliffe brings you "Angst, Torture, and a Very Bad Day: Conflict!" Let's share the pain. The prize vault is open.
Friday: July 1. The Best of the Archives with Tina Radcliffe, bringing you a second look at professional jealousy with her post "I AM NOT..." Comments are closed on Fridays to give us all more writing and reading time.
Summer reads from Seekerville authors!
Love Will Find a Way. Coming soon from beloved Seekerville authors, Sandra Leesmith, Myra Johnson and Cara Lynn James.
No Way Up! Releasing in July from Mary Connealy. Preorder here.
Her Unexpected Family. An August release from Ruth Logan Herne. Preorder here.
California Gold Rush Romance Collection featuring Pam Hillman. Available August 1. Preorder here.
Castles in the Clouds from Myra Johnson. Releasing August, 26. Preorder here.
It's not too late to stop by the Yankee Belle Cafe and check out the Hutzler Banana Slicer. You'll be glad you did. And if you check out the blog post and come back to Seekerville and tell me you did, I'll put your name in for a $10 Amazon gift card. While a comment in Yankee Belle Cafe is appreciated, don't have to comment unless you want to. But anyone who already commented is already entered in. I am an equal opportunity briber. Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition.
GIVEAWAY on Julie Lessman's Journal Jots blog in honor of NATIONAL KISSING DAY (June 24)!! So come on by to check it out and enter to win an ecopy of both Julie's new contemporary, Isle of Hope, or it’s brand-new prequel, A Glimmer of Hope. And if you already have IOH, Julie will substitute with book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, which releases this September, so either way, it’s win-win! Note: Check Julie's blog out next week, too, for the cover reveal of Love Everlasting!! Here's the link:Julie's Journal Jots Blog
Random News & Information
Thanks to everyone who sent links. Lots of news this weekend. Pace yourself!
Congratulations to Diva Laurie Tomlinson. In her own words: "Can't be more thrilled to announce my first book contract with Harlequin Heartwarming!" http://bit.ly/28IJUXX
The 2016 RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony will be streamed live on the Internet on Saturday, July 16, starting at 8 p.m. PST. The URL is http://www.rwa.org.
Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) will conduct its 27th annual summer coaching conference August 15–18, 2016, at the Red Lion on the River Hotel (Jantzen Beach) in Portland. For more information check them out here.
Business Musings: The Midlist Rules!(Kristine Kathryn Rusch)**
How Much Christian Content Should a Christian Fiction Book Have? (Ask BHP)**
Overcoming the Emotional Obstacles to a Writing Career (Writers in the Storm)**
7 Ways to Have a Jane Austen Summer (Gilead Publishing Blog)
And the Bride Wore Black (Romancing History)
The Legal Side of Writing for Anthologies (Writer Unboxed)**
Book Promotion: 10 Ways to Build Your Author Mailing List without Paying for Facebook Advertising (ALLi)
25 Things People Say to Writers—And How We’d Like to Reply (The Write Conversation)
Dangers for Prawny Authors (The Passive Voice)**
10 Goodies to Help the Plot-Twistiness of Your Crime Novel (The Graveyard Shift)
Why Indie Presses are Opening Bookstores (Literary Hub)
‘The Oxford Comma’s Unlikely Origin’ Video Goes Viral (GalleyCat)
Overdrive Helping Librarians Reach New Readers (DBW)
9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images (Social Media Examiner)**
Short on time? Check out these links and come back later for the rest! **
Chasing Publishing Trends (JA Konrath)****** Loving this article! Tell us what you think of a Seekerville coloring book-any and all suggestions accepted- to get your name in the draw for a $10 Starbucks gift card. Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition.*******
We expect you to have lots to talk about this Weekend Edition! Bring on the comments and have a great reading and writing weekend.
Sandra here getting ready for the RWA conference in July. I can hardly wait to fly down to San Diego and see my writing buddies? Are any of you Seeker friends going? If so, be sure and let me know as we want to have a Seeker get-together while there. I'll be attending the FHL meeting and Awards assembly so maybe I'll see you there.
Even if you aren't planning to go to RWA, you might be attending other conferences or writing events. It is always good to have some promotional tools and swag on hand. Please read this post that was published in March 2015 for some great ideas.
Remember, its Archive Friday so no comments. Read for info and then spend time on your wip.
Last weekend I signed books at the famed Tucson Festival of Books. What a great experience. This festival is dedicated to publication, marketing, display and creation of books. What is not to like about that?
|LeAnne Bristow found me in the crowd. Yay!|
Over 100,000 people attend this event. One of my friends said, “This is like a swap meet for intellectuals.” So true.
So how do you make yourself known with all of these other authors? One of my fellow authors from Desert Rose RWA recommended making really nice flyers to hand out. I have done this for over a year now and find it really helps. Actual print book sales have dropped because so many use e-books. When I meet people and they say they read e-books, I can hand them my flyer and they do take them home and order e-books and audio books. My Kindle sales always jump after these events.
|Early Sunday morning before the crowds|
I am including the proofs for the flyer so you can see how I use it. It is made with a
|Again, Sunday before the crowds|
high quality glossy paper, which makes it a bit more expensive, but people value it more and tend to not toss it right away. It includes a blurb about each one of my books. Please note that I made this flyer
before the cover of WITH THIS KISS was produced. I did know what picture the graphic artist would use, so my graphic artist at NW Print Solutions came up with a close replication so people would recognize it when they went to my Amazon page.
These flyers come in handy in all kinds of scenarios. When I meet people and they ask me “What do you write?” I can hand them a flyer and they will be able to peruse the books and go order one.
|Outside page will be folded in half|
|Inside page will be folded in half|
Notice that I have the QR on the flyer also. These are easy to obtain and young people use them a lot. It will take them right to my Amazon page and they can order on the spot with their phone. Yay!!!
There are other SWAG materials that are widely used as well.
Missy Tippins hands out bookmarks for each of her books.
Pam Hillman explains a SWAG that worked for her. “Around Christmas, I had several speaking/signing
events, and wanted something for readers to take away. I already had bookmarks with my first book (Claiming Mariah) on them and didn’t want to order more at that time. But I had several new books coming out in
2015, and wanted a way to show readers the covers, so I designed a postcard. Since I knew the bulk of these would be handed out and not mailed, I used the front and back of the postcard and was able to promote 5 books on the one card.
Since I already had a bookmark with Claiming Mariah on it, I included that with the signed books as well as a postcard.
Julie Lessman’s talented hubby makes
book plates for her to include in each of her books. These advertise the whole series.
The Seekers provide SWAG when they attend conferences. You may have seen it. Julie’s hubby designed our bookmarks. We have also provided pens and jar openers that had Seekerville printed on them.
My favorite SWAG items that I have picked up in the past are emery boards and letter openers with the author’s name on them. Of course, there are always food items, like candy, teas, energy bars, etc. But those wrappers with author names do disappear rather quickly. A bowl of candy on your table at your booth does invite prospective readers to at least drop by and look at your books.
BTW does anyone know what SWAG stands for? I asked Jeeves and many silly acronyms appeared. The closest that made sense was Something We All Get.
Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and during the hot sumers she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Two of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. Love's Promises will be available on audio in April.
You can read more posts by Sandra here.
Keep your eyes open. COMING IN JULY a new Seeker Summer Anthology. Cara and Myra have joined with me for a selection of Summer romances in LOVE WILL FIND A WAY. Myra did the cover. Isn't it fantastic!!! I love all the talent we have in this village. smile
with guest Erica Vetsch.
In the not too distant past of this year’s Speedbo, Tina and I were in the #1k1hr Facebook group writing away toward our Speedbo goals, and when I mentioned that I was working on a Style Sheet for my editor, Tina’s cute little ears perked up. A Style Sheet? Seekerville folks would love to hear more about that topic! She promptly invited me to guest post at Seekerville about the ins and outs of Style Sheets for authors, and I gladly accepted!
So, what is a Style Sheet?
A Style Sheet is a list, really. A list of people, places, and details of which you must keep track while writing a novel. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, you know there are hundreds, if not thousands of details and decisions to oversee, and it’s easy to forget or change some fact between chapter one and chapter twenty. But you can bet your readers will notice and call it to your attention. And while you can’t guarantee that a manuscript is error free, you can sure minimize those mistakes with a handy little Style Sheet. (Some houses call this document a Story Bible, but I don’t like that term, so I don’t use it, but if you come across it, it means Style Sheet.)
For some writers, their Style Sheet is simple. Character’s name, age, hair color, eye color. Bam, done.
For some writers, their Style Sheet includes back-story, timelines, setting descriptions, character photographs, story synopsis, story turning points, and more!
I suppose, much like the plotting/pantsing debate, the depth and breadth of your Style Sheet reflects your process and preferences as a writer. There’s no wrong way to do it.
For me, my Style Sheet varies based on the project I’m currently working on. The briefest Style Sheet I’ve done is two pages, a list of names and descriptions and a handful of small photographs to illustrate the main characters in the story. This was for my novella The Trail Boss’s Bride. When my editor saw it, she was super happy, and she said she might start asking all her authors to keep and turn in a Style Sheet with their stories.
The largest, most complex Style Sheet I’ve ever done stands currently at a whopping 33 pages and counting! This particular Style Sheet is for a novella collection I’m coordinating. Seven Brides for Seven Texans is a set of novellas that all take place within one calendar year, written by seven different authors, about seven brothers who must marry in 1874 or lose their inheritance. With so many authors needing to coordinate stories so tightly interwoven and overlapping, keeping track of details is a MUST, which is where a Style Sheet comes in.
For the Seven Brides collection, the Style Sheet includes:
1. The order the stories appear in the collection, along with author, title, and contact info for each author.
2. A brief overview of the collection (something like back-cover copy.)
3. A back story timeline of the Hart family leading up to the collection prologue.
4. A timeline of 1874, the setting of the story, and where each novella fits, along with dates of important events like marriages, cattle drives, community events, etc.
5. A quick-reference chart of main characters along with birth order, age, hair color, eye color, physical traits, personality traits, etc.
6. A calendar of 1874.
7. Character sketches from each of the authors (a couple paragraphs at most) of the heroes, along with photographs of hero and heroine for each novella.
8. A 1-2 page story synopsis of each novella.
9. A list of extra characters with a brief description. From the town lawyer to the undertaker to the gossipy dressmaker, these characters make appearances in most all the novellas, so they must remain consistent from one to another. (The list currently stands at 46 different characters.)
10. A list of businesses and buildings used in the story. Hotels, restaurants, mercantiles, etc.
11. Photographs of the main ranch house, and the main rooms of the house, so that descriptions can be consistent from one story to the next, as well as a floor plan of the house.
12. A map of the town.
13. A map of the ranch with each son’s portion labeled.
As you can see, a Style Sheet/Master Document is essential when writing a continuity series where characters overlap so heavily, but you don’t need to be working on something of this scope to utilize and benefit from a Style Sheet.
How do I make one?
• Use the method that works for you.
There are lots of ways to create a Style Sheet. Some authors use a spreadsheet. Columns and rows make their organized little hearts sing. Other authors use a word document, writing in paragraphs and lists. Some authors start with the Style Sheet first, and others fill it out after they write the story. You choose the method that makes the most sense to you.
• Include pertinent details
At the very least, character descriptions should be included, but you feel free to get as detailed as you need to in order to keep track of information throughout your story. Include a list of places used in the story. If your story involves a great deal of research, be sure to include your sources. You never know when your editor might query whether your heroine should be using a sewing machine in 1850 or if your hero really would own a blue pickup truck in 1917. Photographs are helpful, too!
• I recommend updating as you go rather than waiting until the end
Creating a Style Sheet is much easier if you do some of the work up front and then add as you go. When plotting a story, I start with a Style Sheet, listing my hero and heroine and the setting, as many details as I know in the beginning. As I write, sub-characters pop up all the time, a shopkeeper, a deputy, a neighbor, and it is easiest to add them to the Style Sheet at that time. Also, character quirks tend to develop as I write, and halfway through the book I discover that my hero is allergic to strawberries or my heroine is afraid of dogs. Stick those kinds of details into the Style Sheet so you can refer to them later.
What do I do with it when it’s complete?
When you’ve gotten your Style Sheet created and you’ve completed your first draft, print out a copy of the Style Sheet and have it by you as you revise. Use it to make sure that your blue-eyed hero doesn’t have brown eyes by chapter six, or that your heroine who is orphaned in chapter three doesn’t mail a letter off to her mama in Poughkeepsie by chapter ten.
Once you’ve edited, revised, and cleaned up your manuscript, ready for submission, make sure you’re Style Sheet is all spit-shined, too, as up to date as possible.
And when you turn in that beautiful novel, include a copy of your Style Sheet. This bit of story-shorthand will be invaluable to your content and copy editors! They might even fall upon your with kisses and chocolate! Your editors, who won’t be as familiar with the story as you are, can keep track of unfamiliar details and edit for consistency and continuity without having to scroll back or riffle through screeds of pages to check on a detail.
They will thank you!
So what do you think of the Style Sheet? Are you already creating something similar? Do you have any suggestions?
Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
A Home for Her Heart
After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students' lack of English, the rough surroundings and sheriff Elias Parker's doubts and distrust, Savannah's unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she's determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way.
Elias gives it a week—or less—before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty dresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn't give up. Yet the real test is to come—a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her…
Leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of His Prairie Sweetheart, her debut release with Love Inspired Historical. Winner announced in the next Weekend Edition.
Oh, and just for fun, Erica did a Seekerville Style sample sheet (as though we 13 were characters in a book). ENJOY!! It's all good fun!
with Jaime Jo Wright.
I was rebellious as a child, and I blame books. My parents set regular bed times, but once I started reading at the age of four, the stage of bad behavior had been set. It started with Dick and Jane under the covers with a flashlight. While my Dad thought it was quite sentimental that I found the old classic reader to be so captivating, my flashlight was confiscated, and I was banished to wait until morning to “see Dick run”. By the time I was in elementary school, my parents decided that if we read as a family before bedtime, my imagination would be satiated by lights out. Ahem. Cough. Moving on to my pre-teen years, my parents embraced that they were raising a monster. A book monster. A child who would sacrifice sleep in order to finish a chapter . . . and that’s where the issue was. If only my parents had figured it out.
Have you noticed that the last book that kept you up until the wee hours was the book whose chapters ended with a hook? What do I mean by a “hook”? Well, that feeling that the scene is coming to a satisfying close and you can reach for the lamp by the bed to flick it off. But, then the author has the audacity to drop that killer last line, or enticing cliffhanger paragraph, and it’s a necessary evil to turn the page and begin the following chapter. Excuses like “just the first few paragraphs to see what happens”, or “just five more minutes”, are prevalent in the reading of such books. It’s a crime, really. I blame the population’s sleep shortage on end of chapter hooks.
Take Treasure Island. This one I finished in one day, stretched out over the course of an afternoon and an all-nighter. But what can a person do when the chapter ends with a line like: “It was a smile that had in it both something of pain and weakness—a haggard, old man’s smile; but there was, besides that, a grain of derision, a shadow of treachery, in his expression as he craftily watched, and watched, and watched me at my work.” GOOD HEAVENS! Hold your breath and turn the page!
Or something less, um, treacherous. Little Women. Cliffhanger chapter endings don’t occur in romances, do they? “When Laurie said goodbye, he whispered significantly, ‘it won’t do a bit of good, Jo. My eye is on you. So mind what you do, or I’ll come and bring you home.’” (I’m still upset Jo didn’t marry Laurie, although it would have quite ruined them both).
And YA fiction? Even Ralph from the Mouse and the Motorcycle mastered the chapter end hook. With one horrific sentence taught with friction, emotion, and that necessary turn-of-the-page. “The boy could not have said anything that would hurt Ralph more”.
So are there rules, as a writer, to gripping the reader with these intoxicating chapter ends? I believe there are, and I’ll share a few I learned when I wrote my first novella, “The Cowgirl’s Lasso” and had only 20,000 words to tell a story and keep a reader intrigued.
1. Study outside your genre. This one is a no-brainer, but yet, as writers, we often read so much within our genre that we don’t always stretch beyond to learn from others. I often share on my Facebook page different books I’m reading, and more often than not, they’re not in my genre of Historical Romance. For example, a romance isn’t necessarily going to end a chapter with a man behind the heroine, knife hoisted in the air above her back, ready to plunge … okay … you get the point. (pun intended) BUT! That heart-pounding finish can be translated into the romantic genre, as evidenced by adaptation.
“She pressed her fingers to the window pane. It was too painful, it hurt too much, and nothing could possibly make matters worse. Her eyes captured the reflection in the glass, moments before she felt his breath on her shoulder. The man she knew she belonged with, but could never have. The man she never wanted to see again.” Call it the “knife plunge end” … BAM! What happens next? Does she turn? Does he kiss her neck? Do they fight? I don’t know. There is no next-page in this scenario. (muah hahahaha! *insert evil laughter here*)
2. Eliminate sentences. For fun, take a chapter you’ve written with a satisfactory ending. Delete the last two sentences and see what happens. Often, you will find your chapter hook is already written, you just didn’t know it. Example: “Her eyes captured the reflection in the glass, moments before she felt his breath on her shoulder. The man she knew she belonged with, but could never have. The man she never wanted to see again. He was handsome, achingly so, and as she turned, she wondered if there could ever be a different ending. But as she met his eyes …” blah, blah, blah. You can see the chapter is coming to end, maybe not with a solidified romance, but definitely wordy, and most certainly not heart pounding.
3. Make them suffer, question, or yearn. Jo didn’t know if her sister would live. Jim questioned who Captain Silver really was. Dick longed to run. And Ralph the Mouse? He just had it bad in all directions. A chapter needs to end with that hanging chad. In our example, who is the man behind our heroine? She loves him, but did he leave her once, a long time ago? Perhaps he’s married and she’s longing for what she cannot have? Or does she simply love him and never said so? The questions. Oy, the questions. It makes me turn the page, does it you?
4. Insert an imaginary “To Be Continued.” Look at every chapter as an episode that isn’t completed until the next episode. Did you ever watch The Flash, Once Upon a Time, or 24? These episodes end with minimal resolution. Just enough to keep the viewer from putting their head through the wall, but not enough to get them to quit watching ‘cause it feels as if the story is complete. It means that on Sunday night, I’m popping popcorn and anticipating the start of Once Upon a Time because I waited a WHOLE WEEK! The bonus of being a writer? You only extend the wait time by one page. It’s magic.
Chapter hooks are so vital to a good book’s intrigue. It keeps the page turning and turning until finally, it’s 3 AM, and your dad is standing over your bed and slipping the book from your sleepy fingers, brushing your hair back, and whispering, “you goon.” Let’s make our readers “goons” who can’t turn out the light, because those chapters just keep ending with to be continued.
What book hooked you chapter after chapter, or what is the worst possible chapter ending for you, as a reader? As a writer, have you ever cut your last paragraph by a few sentences to see what happens?
Professional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.
Web site: www.jaimejowright.com
"The Cowgirl's Lasso," The Cowboy Bride's Collection - Barbour Publishing - March 2016
"Gold Haven Heiress," California Gold Rush Romance Collection - Barbour Publishing - August 2016
The Cowboy's Bride Collection: 9 Historical Romances Form on Old West Ranches
Ride onto the open range alongside cowboys and cowgirls who embrace the adventures of living in the Old West from Kansas to New Mexico, Colorado to Texas. Whether rounding up cattle or mustangs, training horses, fending off outlaws, weathering storms, competing in rodeos, or surviving drought these cowboys work hard each day. But when hardheaded men have their weaknesses exposed by well-meaning women will they stampede away or will a lasting love develop? Find out in this exciting collection of nine historical romances
Jaime Jo is giving away one print or e copy of The Cowboy's Bride Collection to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
with guest blogger and drive-by writer, Meg Brummer.
"The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes."
- Agatha Christie
I don’t have time to write.
No, really I don’t. I stay home with two kids under three and I’m pretty sure they hold nightly meetings while my husband and I sleep to plan out just exactly how they’ll alternate naps during the day so that Mommy never gets a break. Ever.
Every night at 8:30 when they are good and asleep in their beds for at least the next few hours, I spend several minutes deciding whether I should sleep because I’m EXHAUSTED or write because I, hey, I want to! Let’s just say this blog post is brought to you by coffee. . .lots of coffee.
So, how do you write a book when your life doesn’t allow for regular chunks of uninterrupted writing time?
After wasting months (um. . . years) of writing no words at all, I stumbled on a method I like to call Drive-by Writing.
It’s pretty simple, really. I keep my computer and outline (or whatever other notes I need) in a central location that I see and pass by throughout the day – like the kitchen table or counter – and that stays out of reach of the two-year-old’s curious fingers! Throughout the day, every time I pass by or get a minute or two to walk over to the computer, I write a little bit. The first few times I tried this out, I was pleasantly surprised by my word count at the end of the day! Now, drive-by writing is my primary strategy for getting writing time when life is crazy.
So how does it work?
Aim for any words
Seriously. Any. When I have a drive-by day, my goal each time I pass my computer is five words. Just five! Sometimes that is realistically all I have time for at the moment. More often than not, five words turns into fifty or one hundred. Repeat twenty to thirty times throughout the day and you end up with a 2000 to 3000-word day! Worst case scenario: if you only get five words at each pass, you produce 100-150 words. No, that doesn’t feel like major progress, but it is progress and you can celebrate it!
I’ll be brutally honest here. I love routine. I love it so much that I flirt with the line between “functioning human being” and “frantic basket case” when I lose my sense of routine. So I resonate with the many authors I have read who advise setting aside the same time every day as official writing time and sticking to it! Let the people in your life know that it’s your writing time and it needs to be respected! Close the door, put up a sign, and unplug the phone!
Yeah. . . that conversation didn’t go over so well with my two-year-old.
|These two keep me on my toes!|
So when you find yourself in a season of life where predictable writing routines are just plain out of reach, get flexible! I wasted a couple of years producing no words while waiting for the ideal routine to be established until I realized I could write in snippets throughout my toddler-paced days. Now, that is my routine.
Write on the go
I always liked the idea of going old-school. You know, writing a novel with pen and paper – having the distinguished ink smudge on your hand that marks you as a writer. When I try that, though, I just don’t seem to be able to get a lot of words out before my hand cramps up. But when I’m drive-by writing that doesn’t matter! I can stand in line at the grocery store and write my five words. I can sit in the drive-thru teller and get ten more. Waiting room at the doctor’s office – another 30. Then after the kiddos are in bed, take thirty minutes to type them into my WIP document and hit “Save.” Progress! And depending on how my nightly dilemma between sleep and writing turns out, maybe add another paragraph – even page! – or two.
If just thinking about pen and paper still causes your hand to cramp up, utilize your smart phone. Occasionally I hear of a great new app for writers. I’ve tried a few but personally haven’t stuck with them, and usually they cost somewhere between .99 and $3. For drive-by writing, I prefer to use the basic “Notes” app that came free on my phone since I’m not dictating large chucks of text at a time or needing to sync with other programs.
Set up Writing Dates
Finally, even if drive-by writing becomes your primary way of getting words on the page, it’s still a good idea to set aside “writing dates” – larger spaces of time every once in a while that allow you to “get in the zone” and get those cathartic word sprints out. I am blessed enough to have my parents in the area, so my mom and I set up one day a week on which she gets to hang out with her grandbabies all day and I get to do whatever I want – which usually is sitting at a coffee shop and writing without a single interruption for hours, and only the occasional intentional break to get up and stretch. It might be twice a week for you or once a month, but this gives you something to look forward to while you slog through your phrase-at-a-time Drive-by days.
Could Drive-by Writing work for you? Next time you have a busy day or a crazy season of life, think about how you can fit even a few words in here and there, and go for it! You might be surprised how much more you mull over your story in between the snippets and how many words you can write when you feel like you just don’t have the time!
How about you? What strategies do you like to use to keep yourself writing when life gets crazy? I’d love to know!
Meg Brummer grew up in a world of adventure and discovery and found depth, hope, and courage in the stories of adventure, romance, and imagination of her youth and in the deeper, truer story that inspires them all. The stories of her childhood planted themselves deeply and grew into a love of storytelling and a passion for spinning her own speculative tales of beauty and wonder.
She spends her days exploring the beautiful Black Hills with her two adorable and imaginative children, living out the best romance tale she could imagine with her heroic husband, and writing down her daydreams in the naptimes, bedtimes, and cracks of a busy and beautiful life. When she has a really rare moment of free time, she indulges her sweet tooth on a morsel of chocolate and loses herself in an overly ambitious quilting project or learning some dead or obscure foreign language for fun.
Leave a comment today to get your name in the draw for a Seeker Book of Choice in honor of Meg's visit (if we can find it on Amazon, you can pick it). The winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition!
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