Spring into writing

I hope those of you living in NJ or on the East Coast are enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Hopefully it’s here to stay since my daffodils have blossomed.

I spent the majority of last month working on my third novel, The One That Got Away, as part of NJ Romance Writer’s JeRoWriMo (Jersey Romance Writer’s Month). Our goal was to write 30,000 words during the month of February. I’m happy to say that I wrote just over that and now have a good start to my story.

This week, I’m blogging on the Violet Femmes site on character names and titles. Hope you can stop by http://thevioletfemmes.wordpress.com and check out my post.

Enjoy the warm weather!

Maria

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Goal-setting for a New Year

Yeah, winter has finally arrived in New Jersey. After a Christmas and New Year where we could wear fall jackets, it’s finally time to break out the hats, scarves, and gloves.

Along with the cold weather and threat of snow, January brings the start of a new year. And with that, a lot of people set out a plan, or resolutions, for the year. Some keep them, many do not. I’ve been guilty of abandoning my resolutions before February, but nowadays don’t resolve to do something impossible. For instance, there’s NO way I’m giving up chocolate for any length of time.

Last year I set out some writing goals and I’m happy to say that I accomplished all of them, and several more that I hadn’t even planned on. Well, I did only make a dent in my reading backlog. Unfortunately, I acquired more books than I read, so I’m literally buried in books-both paper and e-versions. But, that’s not a complaint. I love being surrounded by books and would rather have too many to read than not enough.

So as we start the new year, here are some of my writing goals for 2012:

  • Finish editing my second manuscript
  • Fix plot issues with my first manuscript and/or start outlining/writing my third manuscript
  • Sign with an agent
  • Continue to maintain this blog along with regular blog posts with The Violet Femmes
  • Continue to network with other writers
  • Read authors I haven’t read before
  • Continue to strengthen my craft through networking with other writers, classes, books

How about you? What are your writing goals for 2012? Have any tips to share to help me achieve mine?

Thanksgiving Writing Thanks

Well, the cranberry-orange bread is baked for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a fresh batch of brownies.

My son has been asking for brownies because I made them last weekend for his sister’s school (PTO fundraiser) and he can’t eat box mixes because of his food allergies. I’ve tried several recipes but they always have a tendency to come out under-cooked. So, after consulting mom (as in MY mom), I altered a few steps in my process, and they came out pretty good. Of course, this was after trying a new recipe and a specialty pan that I’d bought from my son’s school fundraiser that resulted in a horrible brownie disaster last night. Regardless, all is well tonight, and my son is the happiest kid on the planet (no exaggeration).

As I write this post, I realize that baking is a little like writing. You start with a list of ingredients and instructions. If you’re lucky, the directions are detailed and tell you if there is a specific order to assembling the ingredients. Growing up Italian, I didn’t get detailed recipes. I got a list of ingredients. Maybe-if I was lucky-something that told me what temperature to cook it on or for how long. When I first moved into my own apartment I had wanted to make pasta sauce (gravy as we call it). I practically laughed when my mom just gave me random ingredients. Somehow I figured it out, and over the years have learned how to improvise a recipe. But I’ll never forget my early struggle to figure out the right combination of ingredients. Who knew that I shouldn’t add salt when making chocolate chip cookies, but I needed to add it when making homemade bread? Some lessons are learned the hard way.

With writing, the individual components of the craft are like ingredients: point of view, dialogue, show vs tell, voice, hook, exposition, etc. These ingredients, and many more, make up our story. As writers, we’re not told when to show vs tell, or when to write a scene in the heroine or hero’s POV. But we know it’s needed. WE need to figure out the combination of ingredients that will either make our story a three-tier cake or a gooey mess of under-cooked brownies. Sometimes our mixture of ingredients works, and other times it doesn’t. We must continuously adjust our “recipe” until we find the magic.

I’ll spend Thanksgiving Day with my family. It’s a bit quieter than in year’s past, but we’ll have lots of food and fun. I’m grateful for my family and that we’re all well and reasonably healthy.

I wish you and your family a healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Springing Ahead…with writing

Spring is one of my favorite times of year. Flowers and trees start to bloom, the grass starts to become green. You can witness new life almost everywhere you look. The one downside is losing that ever so precious hour of sleep. But in the end, we get more daylight in the evening, which makes it great when I drive home from my day job.

I, for one, am glad we’re into March. February was a blur while I actually took 3 online workshops, several of them overlapping. Lesson to self to not do that again!

In preparation for the RWA National Conference this year, I’m participating in a 50k challenge. I essentially have until June 25th to write attempt to write 50,000 words. Yikes! But, the good news is that I was almost 37,000 words into my second manuscript when I started and I’m over 52k now. If I’m able to accomplish my goal, I’ll be pretty close to finishing the book by that time. BUT, realistically, I have some editing to do on A Chance for Love, so that will start getting priority soon.

Enjoy the longer days and warmer weather!

Maria

Making Time

Like many writers, it’s often a challenge to find time to write while juggling a full-time job and a family. But somehow I manage even when it means I drag myself out of bed at 5:00 am to steal an hour or so of writing before my day begins. To help me feel like I’m accomplishing something, and being the data-geek that I am, I’ve started a log to record how much time and words I’m actually completing. So far from the time I started my log earlier this month, I’ve written 9,294 words in just over 20 hours. That’s roughly 465 words per hour, which I think is pretty good considering some nights I can only write 150 words and other nights (like last night) where I wrote a whooping 1,381 words.

So, no matter how insignificant the number of words, they all add up. So keep on writing…

Happy New Year!

Since it’s only the 5th day of the new year, it’s not too late to welcome in 2011 or to set some writing goals I hope to achieve this year. So here goes:

  1. Continue to search for agent representation for A Chance for Love.
  2. Submit A Chance for Love in other writing contests.
  3. Complete writing 2nd book.
  4. Update blog on a regular basis (which I hope to be somewhere between weekly and monthly).
  5. Attend classes that will help improve my craft and learn more about getting published.
  6. Read the backlog of books sitting on my bookshelf (13 for pleasure + 3 about writing) and on my Nook (8 at current count). That’s in addition to the books I’ll download or buy that my favorite authors are writing. I know, this technically isn’t a writing goal but it’s definitely something I will work on this year. It’s a good thing I LOVE to read!

Until my next post…happy writing and reading!

Maria

Welcome to my blog and 2010 in review

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I created this to share my writing journey with others. The year 2010 has been an amazing one for me as a writer. I’ve accomplished all the goals I’d set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Submit to a contest – submitted to the “Put Your Heart in a Book” & RWA “Golden Heart” Contests.
  2. Begin attending New Jersey RWA local chapter meetings.
  3. Query agents.

Some other accomplishments I managed this year are:

  • Really finished editing my first novel
  • Pitched to 2 agents at the NJ Romance Writers conference
  • Became RWA PRO eligible
  • Started novel #2
  • Created my blog (and with only 2 days in the year left!)

As 2010 comes to an end I’m grateful for all that I’ve accomplished and hope that 2011 is as and maybe even more prosperous!

May you all have a Happy New Year!

Maria