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Archive for the 'Writing Life' Category

Tools for Writers: One Stop For Writers

I discovered One Stop for Writers after following the Writers Helping Writers blog and subsequently buying a copy of the Emotions Thesaurus. Both are fantastic resources for writers at all experience levels, but when One Stop for Writers went live, I signed up for the free trial and have continued using the site ever since.

This site has everything!

One Stop For Writers

There are loads of thesauruses to inspire the writer when they’re stuck. They range from emotions to setting and characters. There is also help to plot and outline, build worlds rich in detail, and to offer inspiration when a writer hits a wall.

My favorite part of the site is the many thesauruses, which I use most days. I’ve also used some templates, the idea generator, and the character builder.

If you’re a writer, I think you’ll find this site invaluable. Check out the helpful resources and sign up for the FREE fourteen-day trial. I highly recommend One Stop for Writers.

Tools For Writers: 4TheWords

At the start of 2020, I was having trouble getting back into a writing routine after the holidays. Going for days without writing or any procrastination was not on the cards because I had deadlines stacked for the entire year.

One of the Facebook groups I belong to had a “Win for the Week” post each week. One author posted her weekly word count had soared, which she attributed to 4TheWords.

Intrigued, I checked it out and signed up for the 30-day trial.

4TheWords Writing Toolbox

4TheWords is an online writing game. Every day you select monsters worth various word counts and battle by writing words. Once you beat a monster, you earn rewards and collect items to get farther into the game.

According to the website, the writing game includes:

Monsters to battle
You can upgrade your hero
Embark on quests
Explore the world
Join in special events
A sense of community

Once I started, my writing totals for the day went up, and since I was battling monsters every day, my word count grew at a steady rate. 4TheWords worked incredibly well when we went into lockdown for COVID 19 here in New Zealand. It helped me to stay on track and keep working, despite the upheaval around me.

After my one-month trial ended, it was a straightforward decision to continue. Turning the writing process into a game works for me and my writing style. I enjoy the challenge, and apart from when I was on holiday, I’ve written every day. My current streak is 181 days of writing, which makes me proud. Having to write every day to stay alive in the game compels me to continue, even when I don’t want to work. My word counts are higher, and the process seems easier, despite the challenges of 2020, thanks to using 4TheWords.

If you’d like to try 4TheWords, you can use this referral code PKCQA42934 (It’s my affiliate code, and I’ll receive a few crystals to extend my subscription so that I can fight even more monsters.)

I highly recommend this writing game since it does what it promises—it helps to maintain a writing habit.
4TheWords is a valuable part of my writing toolbox.

The Lure of Small-Town Romances

Small Town Romance

Romances set in small towns are popular amongst romance readers. They’re a comfort read with a sense of warmth and community.

The things I love about small-town reads:

1. The slower pace of life.

2. The gossip factor can be quite high since everyone knows everyone’s business, which makes for interesting dynamics.

3. The shared history amongst the characters.

4. The eccentric characters
.
5. The pets that are full of attitude.

6. They lend themselves to romance series.

7. The town is a character too. Sometimes, the towns have a theme or are known for a famous person or icon. E.g. a Scottish themed village or a paranormal one.

8. Along with the town, there is the surrounding nature and countryside, which is often part of the setting too.

9. Any genre slots into the small-town trope. The books can be paranormal, contemporary, mystery, or suspense.

10. They’re interesting since a writer can do almost anything with tropes or issues.

11. There’s a sense of familiarity—at least there is for me since I lived in small communities while growing up.

What do you enjoy most or dislike about small-town romances?

The Emotion Thesaurus – An Updated Issue on the Way!

Getting emotion into a romance is one of the hardest jobs of a writer. Stringing words together to make a story seem real and rounded, one that draws the reader into the world the writer has created is plain hard. A few years ago Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi wrote a book called the Emotion Thesaurus. I, along with many other writers, embraced this book, making it part of my craft library. Since then Angela and Becca have written several other guides just for writers on topics such as positive traits, emotional wounds in characters, and settings.

This year, they announced they’d done an updated version of the original Emotion Thesaurus, adding new entries and giving us new emotions to help with our book writing.

The Emotion Thesaurus, the updated version, is due out on 19 Feb 2019.

The Emotion Thesaurus

You can pre-order your copy at online retailers.

Writing Update for February: What Is Coming Next?

Writing Update

2019. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know I started with a holiday, but writing was never far from my mind.

This is what I’ve been working on and these projects will be available for readers very soon.

So just how did the Mitchell family from my Middlemarch Shifters series get to Dunedin?

My Scottish Lass is a prequel to the series and answers this question. In this novella, you’ll meet Rory and Ainslie, ancestors to the present-day Mitchell family. This prequel will only be available for those who subscribe to my newsletter. If you’re already signed up to receive my newsletter, watch this space. Currently, I’m waiting for the cover.

Stranded with Ella, book 4 in my Military Men series:

I’ve just delivered this manuscript to my editor. It features Dillon Williams, brother of the heroine from book 1 in the series. We meet Ella Liddington-Walsh who is the opposite of pragmatic Dillon, yet they fit.

Currently working on:

Last week, I started working on Black Moon Dragon, which is book 3 in my Dragon Investigators series. The hero for this one is Manu Taniwha who we met in Blood Moon Dragon, book 2. The heroine is Jessalyn Brown who is part human and part dragon, although this comes as a huge surprise to her.

A freebie:

If you’re a contemporary romance fan, check out Secret Lovers. This is the first book in the Love and Friendship series and it is set in Auckland, New Zealand. Right now, you can get this book at your favorite retailer for free.

A Writing Companion and Assistant

Writing is a solitary occupation—at least the first part of the book writing process is done alone. I do most of my writing sitting in my La-Z-Boy chair or if I want a change of scenery, I head out to a café.

When I write at home, I have an assistant. Here she is…meet Bella.

Assistant Bella

Bella’s job—as she sees it:

1. To make sure I don’t suffer from bottom spread. She nags me with loud barks when it’s time for me to do some exercise.

2. To take regular meal breaks. Again, her barking gets my attention, but she also comes to me chair and makes sure I haven’t missed the message that it’s food time.

3. To collect the mail. She likes to know that we can afford to pay for her food during the coming month and likes checks almost as much as I do.

4. To discourage door-to-door salesmen. No one should distract her partner when she’s in writing mode.

5. To suggest plotting breaks. She signals this by appearing with a tennis ball or her favorite toy.

6. To dispense cuddles when the writing isn’t going well. She edges her way onto my chair, nudging the laptop out of the way.

We have a pretty good partnership, Bella and I, and her excellent understanding of what makes a happy author brings fun to my writing process.

Do you have someone who helps you during the writing process or keeps you company when you’re reading?

Children and Pets in Romances

The ideal romance features a sexy hero and an intrepid heroine. They meet. They fall in love, and they live happily ever after. But life is messy, and these days romance writers take a leaf from reality. They include some of the things we find in our own lives. There are divorces, remarriages, blended families. There are single parents with children, with pets.

Along with the man-woman thing, couples have to juggle children and pets and the courtship phase before they decide they can take their romance further.

Bella

Some readers don’t like their romances polluted with children or pets. Some readers have enough children and pets at home and don’t want to read about them too. For some people, kids are the ultimate contraception!

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of including children or pets in your romance:

1. Kids and pets need looking after all the time, which means romantic adventures require planning in order to guarantee privacy.

2. Kids can’t be trusted not to blurt out things they shouldn’t.

3. Kids and pets can make characters shine and show their softer emotional sides.

4. Kids and pets provide fodder for cute meets and sometimes matchmaking opportunities.

5. Kids are determined, and if they don’t like you, they will let you know. Their dislike gets in the way of romance.

6. Think of the worst time for a kid to interrupt, and they’ll probably time the interruption to the second.

7. Dogs have sharp teeth, and have no problem with using them.

8. Pets are easier to foist off on friends and neighbors.

9. Kids require babysitting if you’re going to move the romantic action somewhere other than home.

10. Romantic scenes usually have to take place in the bedroom. None of this trying out every room in the house, and forget the kinky stuff!

My personal thoughts on kids, pets and romance? I love reading about pets in romances, but for children it depends on the author execution. Sometimes children work and enrich a romance and other times, they feel as if they’re in the way.

What do you think? Do you like romances featuring kids and pets? Dislike them?

Scrivener: A Writer’s Friend

Scrivener

For years, I’ve been hearing good things about Scrivener, the software for writers. And, for the same length of time, I’ve resisted even considering taking advantage of the trial period of the software because I’m not a plotter. I felt that Scrivener would make my brain hurt in the same way that all the other plotting books and methods and writing software programs do.

Then, one day earlier in the year, a newsletter I subscribe to announced they were offering Scrivener at a special rate for members. It was such a great deal I decided to download the program.

From my reading and the titbits I’d picked up over the years, I knew Scrivener came with a steep learning curve. It wasn’t the right software to write a deadline book. With that in mind, I ordered a copy of Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez. The perfect decision.

I stumbled my way through starting my first book, using Gwen’s book as a bible. Everyone was right. I didn’t find the program easy to master, and I still haven’t worked everything out. I’m learning new things all the time and read as many online posts with tips and tricks as I can fit into my busy days.

Where I thought my brain would freeze, it hasn’t. I used to write in Word from the start of my book until I finished. Now, I think more in scenes, and this is forcing me to analyze my scenes in greater detail. A good thing, I think.

So, pros and cons.

Pros:

1. Everything is in one place. The writing, the setting, the character sketches. I don’t have to stop because I can’t remember a character trait or name. Now it’s all there and easily assessable. If I have a senior moment, the info is one click away.

2. I like the tools that come with Scrivener. I can set a manuscript target, a daily writing target and see my progress. There is a dictionary and a thesaurus. There is also a character name generator. Very handy!

3. As I’ve mentioned already, I now write in scenes rather than chapters and this forces me to analyze my scenes more than I ever have before. It’s easy to shift scenes around or write out of order if I get stuck.

4. Once I’ve finished writing and polishing, I can compile my scenes in a format ready to publish as an ebook. Scrivener has a variety of templates and outputs, which I haven’t experimented with yet, but I can see that they might be useful.

5. Backups are quick and easy, and the auto backup setting—brilliant.

Cons:

1. The steep learning curve. There is no doubt that this is very true. Some people will find Scrivener frustrating and give up on it because it isn’t an intuitive program to learn.

Conclusion:

I’m so glad I purchased this program, despite my misgivings. I’m a huge fan now, and the more I use the program and learn about it, the more I like Scrivener. Scrivener is available for both Mac and Windows users.

If you’re a writer, not necessarily a fiction writer, but any type of writer, I’d recommend giving Scrivener a try. They have a free trial for their program, so definitely experiment. You have nothing to lose.

Ancient Libraries: Library of Celsus

As a booklover, I adore libraries, and I spend many happy hours working and researching in my local library.

Libraries have been around since ancient times, and today I thought I’d highlight the Library of Celsus at Ephesus in Turkey. This is one of the best preserved ancient libraries, and it was built to commemorate Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.

Over the centuries the library was damaged by earthquakes and locals plundered the materials to build their homes and other buildings. While some of the facade has been rebuilt, the Library is still very impressive. The first glimpse a visitor receives is down a long avenue.

Ephesus, Turkey 

This is the avenue leading down to the Library of Celsus. This is a very popular tourist attraction and it’s very busy with people year around.

Library of Celsus

Library of Celsus

Close up views of the Library of Celsus. (Click on photos to see a larger view) The facade is decorated with reliefs – the same fashions in use in Rome at the time. The building was both a library and a mausoleum for Celsus who is buried in a stone sarcophagus below the library.

A bit different from my local library but definitely fascinating.

Time for a Break

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The last six weeks have been full of family stuff, which has taken up much of my time, and today, hubby and I are going on holiday for a much needed break.

While I’m away I have several releases. The first two books in my Alien Encounter series – Janaya and Hinekiri  will become available. Last Wish, a paranormal story about a genie will also go live. All three stories are rereleases with new covers.

Oh, and a reminder – Captured & Seduced, the first book in my House of the Cat series is still free, so grab your copy from your favorite online retailer.

Have a wonderful month.

Happy reading,

Shelley