How to Maintain Perspective

I always like to preface my post with how my blog topic ideas originated for me to decide the write an article. Many times, it by request. Today’s post, however, comes in response to a friend who probably is losing it has surrounded herself by persons who are enablers. Of course, that is my perspective of her situation. So, I’ll begin with an overview of what happened and then dive into a broad discussion of tips everyone can use to remain grounded.

I’ve known Jane (and no that’s no her real name) for over twenty years, and she used to be “normal”—or as normal as anyone can be. We met through work when I was a fledgling and had no clue about the world. She’s several years older than me, so, I did somewhat look up to her as an elder and being knowledgeable. Back then, she had never been married and had no children. However, she was dating a man (I’ll call him John) who was, in my female coworkers’ opinions, “a stud.” I was new to the area and didn’t know him; therefore, I took their word for it. At the time, she had been a studious worker, although, a little on the awkward, neurotic side—nothing too concerning—and got along with most others. Her corks and oddities were glossed over because who doesn’t have some weird aspects to his/her personality. Physically, she was petite and looked (with the exception of her face) like an average twelve-year-old—a feature that she got a kick out of but pretended to be annoyed by it.

Fast forward several months after I met her, and Jane and John became engaged. Now, I don’t know if this was out of a mutual genuine love, a con scheme, or a one-sided need to keep up with the Joneses. See, around that time, several mutual friends, colleagues, and coworkers had also gotten engaged and married. It was very clear that Jane was head-over-heels for John, and one obvious reason was because many women found him so attractive. Jane’s ego was inflated, boosted, or whatever one wants to call it because she felt she had something that other women envied, a trophy boyfriend, if you will. Anytime, she showed his picture or he came around, she would giggle and blush like a preadolescent. He didn’t have that same response for her. That wasn’t exactly a red flag because plenty of men don’t display those kinds of emotions publicly. However, this where things began to shift.

While colleagues were planning their wedding ceremonies, Jane stated that she and John had decided to have a destination elopement… kinda. I always viewed elopements as spontaneous or secret weddings. But Jane was open about the location and the date of her wedding. She even sent invitations to family and friends (although, no one attended). And she openly “planned” it for months. When I say planned, I mean made installment payment plans. See, she purchased a package wedding (no judgment), but here’s the thing. This here is the south, and even though things are modernized and brides are not as traditional, weddings still end up being big ordeals. There’s the fuss of finding the perfect wedding gown and venue and flowers, etc. And that was exactly what was occurring in our department. Every which way one turned there were copies of Brides, Bridal Guide, Town & Country Weddings, and Wedding Style. (Yes, this was era where people killed trees and glossed them up for their reading pleasure.) But Jane said John said he didn’t want to upset people by not including them in the wedding so the best way to avoid that was to go away and get married. (Okay…) It was obvious that Jane wasn’t aboard with this, but she quickly hopped on the train as more friends discussed their wedding plans. She’d make comments like “I don’t have to worry about that” or “I’m glad I don’t have that problem.” It appeared as if she was downplaying others’ wedding to compensate for not having one of her own. But this is my speculation. It was just very noticeable how this verbiage from increased as time passed.

Skip forward to her wedding that occurs approximately seven hours (drive) from where we lived. Her money has paid for a tacky arrangement of silk flowers which could have been gotten from the dollar store, grainy photos printed from a jet ink printer on standard copy paper, a ten-minute ceremony in a wedding cabin with no decorations or live music, and four days stay at cabin hotel a rung above a Holiday Inn Express and without the inclusion of a continental breakfast. Again, this isn’t meant to be shade, but the price she paid (and yes, I said she because she paid for it all and used her car for the drive) was astronomical for the product. This package robbed her bank account of six thousand dollars pre-tax. It would be a little more understandable if she’d rented an entire cabin. However, in all fairness, I think she may have said after the ceremony she and John were each given one glass of complimentary champagne. Must have been some champagne at those rates is all I can say. I mean, they could have paid twenty-five bucks to be married by the local JP and rented an entire cabin for less. And she would have had money left over to have her ill-fitting wedding dress altered.

Let me go off on quick tangent. I’m not body-shaming her by saying she looked like a twelve-year-old. She is a petite-framed woman under five feet tall, and at the time, she had no feminine curves. The wedding dress industry back then was much different than it is today. Her off-the-rack options were extremely limited, and the style of wedding dresses were lots of fabric, totally covered, ball-gowns. This woman shopped for her regular clothes in the children section in stores. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t find a dress that fit. But she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the dress because she had to have the wedding paid in-full before they could get married. The money was non-refundable. So, once she had set the date, she was obligated to make those payments. Both Jane and John worked good jobs, but John fell back on the tradition that the bride’s family paid for the wedding and the groom paid for the honeymoon. Only problem was that the “honeymoon” was included in the wedding fees. She paid for the travel gas, she paid for the hotel, and she paid for most of their meals. I know this because she showed her credit card receipts, and he never bothered denying it.

When she returned with the wonky wedding photos, she was disappointed that friends were underwhelmed. And here’s where the real fun begins. First, John quits his job because he decides he didn’t like it. He’s out of work for several months. He gets another job and says they should move to be closer to that job. They move. He finds fault in the apartment they’re living. They move again into a rental home. He quits his job. They move back to their home city. He finds another job months later. They move there. He quits for another job further away. They move to a “midpoint” between both of their jobs. He quits after a few months. They can’t move right away because they are stuck in a lease. So, she commuting forty-five minutes one-way on the interstate to work daily when previously she’d had a ten-minute drive. Her family is beginning to speak out.

Landlines were still a thing. John began controlling/screening calls from Jane’s family. He claimed it was because they were interfering in their marriage. John also had begun to let himself go. There’s nothing wrong with having love handles or a dad bod. He substituted his tight jeans and cowboy hat for sweatpants and a dude rag. When she flashed his pictures or he popped up at her worksite, her coworkers didn’t swoon, and that deflated Jane’s ego. Her trophy was no longer envied.

Then, came the alleged sickness. John claimed he was unable to work due to illness. He made appointments with specialists (this was before referrals were necessary) and ran up thousands of dollars in medical bills. Remember, he wasn’t working and was on Jane’s insurance. Jane was going into debt. Not only that, but she started to take off from work in order to “care” for him or drive him to an appointment. Supervisors weren’t too concerned because she had plenty of leave. However, they would eyeroll when they realized she wasn’t there. This continued for an extended time.

Moving forward, unemployed John decided they needed to buy a house instead of renting. Jane agreed. Now let me back up for a moment to mention an incident that occurred during a time he’d held a job. He’d gotten a job as a locksmith with a company, and Jane sometimes (although she wasn’t supposed to), went with him on calls. One day at work, she bragged about how one woman had locked herself out of her car on three occasions and one time at her house. Red flags were raised with her coworkers but we all were weary to say anything to her. Why? Because by then, she’d cut ties with her family. He’d given her an ultimatum—her family or him. So, when this house buying nonsense came up, Jane’s friends and coworkers were not all there for it. They were like “whoa, girl.”

Because she had used up so much of her leave prior, on the day the contracts for the house needed to be signed, she needed to be at work. She gave John the cashier’s check and her car (because by now he no longer had his truck because it had engine trouble from being wrecked) to go to the bank to sign the paperwork. And he did. The house was in his name. And yep, shortly after moving in, he kicked her out with the clothes on her back and moved in a “guy friend.” Jane denied that this relationship was anything other than platonic, but that’s not what the evidence suggests. Plus, the affairs he’d had with women during there marriage (including locksmith girl) had come to light. People who knew John growing up who’d now started working at the same place as Jane conversed incidence that gave support to John being bisexual. Living in such a conservative area that we were, I could understand why John may not want this information to be made public. And frankly, it’s not one’s (except his wife’s) business about his sexuality. But Jane was in complete denial that this man was nothing but a cheater. And the timing that he kicked her out couldn’t have been worse for her. It occurred a few days before she got paid. She and John had a joint-checking account, and her paycheck was electronic deposit. She couldn’t close the account alone, and there wasn’t enough time for payroll to process the paperwork to stop the transaction. Yep, he took her entire paycheck… legally. Why didn’t she go to bank first thing and withdraw the money? Because paychecks are deposited at midnight. He was smart enough to have a second account (without her name) and transferred the money seconds after it hit the account. She hadn’t thought to do that, and he beat her to the punch.

She had blown through her savings. Her family would have nothing to do with her. She’d pushed away her closest friends. Something else that had happened was that she wanted to have a baby, especially since the workplace had begun looking like a baby mill with the number of pregnant employees. Something had to be in the water. Wedding and engagement parties had been replaced by baby showers. It was a fun time. However, John informed Jane that it would be selfish for them to have children. He stated that he didn’t get along with his family, and therefore, he wouldn’t get along with any children they would have. She insisted that she (not him) be responsible for birth control. She decided on the Depo-Provera shot. In a short amount of time after, she gained more than thirty pound that to this day she has been unable to shed. This was a further blow to her ego.

She scraped together enough to rent herself an apartment, basically borrowing some money (that she had to repay) from her parents. I’m uncertain of the details (and I don’t want to know), but John walked away with everything in the divorce because Jane consented to give it all to him. I assume it partly was due to her not wanting the divorce and hoping this would put her in his good favor to change his decision. Later, she stated that she was afraid of him and the “guy friend.” (Mostly, she claimed it was the “guy friend” she was afraid of and believed he as manipulating John into believing bad things about her.) About a year after the divorce, the guy friend moved out of the house with John. John still wasn’t working and the bank foreclosed on the house.

This is the phrase where booze and prescription drugs entered the picture—or so we thought. According to a coworker who I met years later after meeting Jane and who had been one of Jane’s college professors, he indicated that Jane’s history with alcohol had begun long before this. He indicated that was how she’d met John in the first place. Back in the day, she’d always come across as very strait-laced, and this professor painted an entirely different picture. Jane was drinking daily, mourning over John. She constantly talked about him. She kept up with what he was doing with mutual friends. She was angry and bitter. When John was going through his “health problems,” he convinced Jane that she had health issues as well. She’d begun seeing several doctors. In hindsight, this may have been John’s way to increase his access to prescription medication. However, I’ve not heard anyone say that John has an alcohol or drug problem. I do know that he consumed alcohol and that he was being prescribed a lot of medication. The point is, Jane’s health declined, and she began taking off work. Whereas before supervisors didn’t care, now they did for three reasons. First, she was taking more than just a day here and there. She was taking weeks at a time. Second, she was running out of time. Her accumulated leave over the fifteen years she’d been employed had dwindled to nearly nothing. The times had changed. Lots of staff changes had occurred, and those happy-go-lucky employees had left. Many of the marriages of coworkers had also ended in divorce. There was plenty of bitterness to go around. A mean-girl club formed, and Jane, with her awkwardness and sour expression from obsessing over John, was not invited. Plus, she hadn’t been the nicest to her coworkers during her marriage.

Jane began associating with a new set of “friends.” They would stay in her apartment, eat her groceries, and drive her car without permission. They would steal her jewelry; yet, she continued to associate with them. They would even hold her hostage making her unable to come to work but allowing her to call in to say that she couldn’t come to work because she was being held hostage in order for her not to receive a work reprimand. She alleged that these “friends” claimed to have pornographic photos and videos of her that she does not remember making and were blackmailing her with their release.

Several wild stories and DUIs later, Jane lost her job. She admits her addiction to alcohol but not to drugs. She’s under the belief that if it’s given to her by a doctor then it’s okay and can’t be abused. She’s gone through rehabilitation treatment several times, but she does not attend AA. She continues to drink wine coolers because they are not “real alcohol” and having an occasional beer “won’t hurt.” She’s prescribed numerous prescription medications; although, she had to sign some kind of agreement that she will only be prescribed medication from one doctor. Apparently, if she violates this agreement she can be prosecuted. This may be a condition of her DUI case. She’s had three (that I know of), and she hasn’t served jail time for any other than being detained on the nights of two of her arrest. The third time, she was admitted to the hospital for injuries.

It’s been at least ten years since her divorce, and she’s still believes the sun and moon sets around John. In fact, he moved back in with her for a while as a “platonic” roommate that had absolutely nothing to do with him being kicked out of the place he had been staying with another “guy friend” who used John for his non-existent check. Since her divorce, she has not dated anyone else. Both of her parents have passed; so, John does not have to contend with them. They both receive disability checks; so, she doesn’t have to worry with slaving out a nine-to-five anymore. Each were able to move into disability housing and qualify for loans for persons on fixed-incomes.

So, here are the takeaways.

  1. Never define yourself by another person. There are so many problems with using someone else’s definition of what you should be. First, it assumes that they have some type of authority and know best. Jane in the story bleached her hair blonde. Why? Because John liked blondes. Jane’s natural hair color wasn’t super dark. It was more of an ash brown color, but she bleached it anyway. The bleach damaged her hair and forced her to get a hideous haircut. Second, if that person exits your life, you’re stuck not knowing who you are or how to function. Third, and most importantly, often times you don’t know how someone defines himself/herself. At the beginning of my senior year of high school, some adults (I’m not sure who) hosted a senior going-back-to school party. I know it was parents because some where present and also it was a private venue. And although the statue of limitations has long past, I wouldn’t name names if I did know because there was an open bar and two kegs that night. The class clown and one of the most popular students at my school who I’d known since kindergarten got pretty lit that night. He had buzz by the time I arrived, and I know because he knew his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. That had never happened before. Anyway, like many drunks he began confessing his secrets. He admitted that he was extremely insecure and that having others laugh at him on purpose was a cover so they wouldn’t laugh at the real him beneath. He was a middle child of large middleclass/upper class Catholic family. He felt a lot of pressure of how he was expected to behave. Oddly, no one seemed to pay much attention to how smart he was. Although, he frequently got in trouble with the teachers and had to serve detention, he was an honor student. He’s not a prominent attorney. Many of the people who emulated him said he wanted to be rebel.
  2. Know your quality and your worth. Self-actualization (or whatever you want to term it) is a lifelong process. People continue to evolve and discover new things about themselves. Sometimes, people make poor decisions or choices. They have regrets. However, this does not mean that is all they are. It does not mean they are horrible people. It does not mean that they don’t have talents or skills. Sometimes, it takes stripping away the outer to see what’s within. If you do not value who you are, no one will either. Others view you as you view yourself. If you define yourself by someone else, others will, too. If you think negatively of yourself, others will, too.
  3. Do your research. Things are not always what they seem on the surface. There are lot of sources out there and not all are good. An elder at my church said there was no excuse for not knowing about the faith because it was all at our fingertips. Then, he held up his smartphone. He was older; so, I didn’t bother to disagree with him. But when you don’t know, you’re not always aware of being led astray. There were plenty of sites that listed wrong (sometimes intentionally) information about the faith. I knew it was wrong because I learned my catechism. Others who had were wanting to know more didn’t. Researching doesn’t stop at one or two sources. With Jane, she could have gotten clues about John from his relationship with his family. She could have asked his high school friends. She should have followed up on glaring red flags. John didn’t destroy her life as Jane would like to say. Jane destroyed her own life. She saw the brick wall, and instead of pressing the brake she put her foot on the gas.
  4. If it’s too good to be true, then it’s worth taking a second, third, or fourth look as to why it is. Good things do happen. When John and Jane hooked up, John was considered a “catch,” or at the very least, a bit of candy. On the contrary, Jane was homely with no suitors. So, why did John, a man who could have any woman, go for Jane? This is no shade towards Jane, nor does it imply that she was not worthy of John’s interest. But come on. You know there’s that moment when you’re first hooking up with someone that you ask yourself why the person is interested in you. And usually, you derive at answers like you have a lot in common, share the same values, or whatever. John and Jane had nothing common (other than drinking apparently). The truth was John was on the market because no one wanted him. He grew up in a small town, and everyone knew his ways. He cruised across the county line broaden his scope of unsuspecting. But much of the bar scene caught onto his act quickly. Jane’s professor said to me that John didn’t want to get married to Jane, that even during their courtship he had other women (and men). (By the way, the professor was gay and hinted that he’d seen John on the gay scene.) According to the professor, John was afraid her family and friends would convince her to end the relationship if he didn’t marry her. It had been clear for a long time that Jane wanted to get married. And when her friends and coworkers all started getting married, it heightened her desire. Plenty of people were whispering (not quietly) that he wouldn’t marry her. Jane was making excuses as to why he hadn’t proposed, but she had shown signs of cracking. Then, he proposed in July and rushed to get married in October.
  5. Physical beauty fades. Intrinsic worth does not. Jane admitted that once she gained the weight from the birth control, John rarely touched her sexually. When his extramarital affairs came to surface, his mistresses were the complete opposite of Jane. They were tall and curvaceous with long hair dark (and he said he liked blondes) hair. They wore heels and stylish clothes and makeup. Jane wore sneakers (mostly because she couldn’t find heels in her size and they discouraged footwear at work), elastic waisted pants, and flower-printed shirts. Her style was reminiscent of Sophia on the Golden Girls. These women were also considerably younger than Jane. Jane is about twelve years older than John, and the women he dated tended to be at least five years younger than him. There is nothing wrong with having a type, but when your spouse’s appearance changes, there should be a deep love. When John’s appearance changed, Jane still loved him. However, she didn’t get that reward from friends that she was envied. She shouldn’t have cared how her friends felt. And she should have expected that neither of them would look the same forever. Aging happens.
  6. Environmental influence can change one’s vision. Being around negative energy will likely cause you to be negative. Jane was low after her split and divorce. The work environment made it worse. Prescription drugs and alcohol clouded her vision further.
  7. Negative circumstances can improve. No one is doomed to stay where the wind blows. Those down times may show cause one to re-evaluate where one wants or needs to be. It’s like the phoenix. One must rise from the ashes after disintegrating. Jane was able to get herself out of debt, repay her parents, and later purchase a home. She even had her license re-instated that had been revoked, and she hasn’t had any more DUIs. John is back in her life. That makes her happy. She’s accepted that they aren’t a couple (for now). (I should note that Jane is under the impression that John isn’t dating and is remaining as celibate as she is. He may be. I don’t know because I’m not in his business like that. But I think that is why she is accepting of their not being together. Should he announce he is dating, I believe there will likely be issues.)
  8. Being stationary, inflexible, and having a closed mind will not make negative events cease, lessen, or disappear. One need to be open, tolerant, and willing to move forward. The past is there. Having a conversation with Jane is difficult. She never once fails to bring up the past multiple times regardless of the subject. It’s always preceded by, “Yeah, it’s like the time…” We may not forget the hardships, but we must learn and move on.
  9. Difficulties, trials, and tribulations will happen. They are all a part of life. The length of time they remain in a person’s life will vary. However, there are always solutions and paths to resolve or make less burdensome these things. The resolutions may not always be clear or simple to achieve, but they do exist.
  10. Personal responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and parts in situations. To this very day, Jane will insist that she was bullied out of her job. She asserts that she was treated unfairly and that there was no basis for her being let go. When her wrongdoings are pointed out to her, she deflects by giving an example how another worker engaged in a similar behavior as if two wrongs make a right. For everything that has happened to her, there is always someone else to blame in her opinion. She is a perpetual victim.

Thank you for hanging in there with me on this post. I know it was a long one, perhaps the longest I’ve ever written without splitting it into multiple parts. However, I didn’t want to divide this into a storytime and then tips. So, let me know what you think about this in the comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Brainstorm for NaNoWriMo

Today, I’m continuing my How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo series by talking about brainstorming. What to write about? It is a real question, and a question for writers must answer before they can get down to the nitty gritty of writing. Fortunately, there is not a right or wrong answer to this question.

The place where a writer will start and process of how to begin will vary from writer to writer. An excellent starting point would be to first select a genre. By selecting a genre, this will narrow one’s focus.

Next, select a theme. Some writers will become stalled at this point, and the brainstorming will begin here. This is a particularly difficult place to be stumped; although, it should be noted that a writer may become blocked at any point in the writing process. And trust me when I say, there is not minimal amount of time a writer can be blocked at a single point. Some writers have been stuck for years. Most times, sitting around awaiting a resolution to magically pop into one’s brain doesn’t happen. It’s not impossible, but it’s just rare. And awaiting an organic solution is rather passive. Being active will likely produce a solution faster. This is not to say that a better organic solution will not occur later. That has been known to happen, too. However, if the writer has a theme in mind, then his/her task has been made even easier and narrow down the brainstorming even further.

 In previous posts, I discussed genre (specifically the romance genre) and tropes/themes at length. I’ll try not to duplicate too much here. To read my NaNoWriMo prepping post regarding genre and tropes, click on the following link.

So now, let’s move onto brainstorming. What is brainstorming? Braining storming can be defined as a problem-solving technique that a person (or group of people) list/contribute spontaneous ideas to devise a solution that increases productivity. There are many forms of brainstorming. Some people outline while others make bullet lists. Some people use a mapping or association technique. Some people time their brainstorming sessions while others may collect ideas over several days. Again, there is no right or wrong answer to brainstorming as long ideas are being formulated. Some ideas my be farfetched or nonpractical. During the brainstorming stage, none of that matters. The objective is to create as many options as possible.

Now, if everything in this post is sounding pretty basic at this point, it is because it is. Often writing is a building process. Each step is additive. One of the reasons I failed at NaNo so many times is because I never started at the basics. I thought because I had an idea in mind (or even the beginning of a story), I would be fine in achieving a goal. The problem was… well, honestly, there were a couple of problems. First, I’m a pantser which is self-explanatory when it comes to how I feel about outlining and plotting. Being a pantser works well for me but not when I only have thirty days to work with. As a pantser, I sometimes… (who am I fooling?)… many times, write myself into corners that take me a few days to work out or backtrack. Rarely, do I write a story in order from start to finish. I also tend to be wordy, which again works for me because I get all the fluff out in editing. However, when one only has thirty days, that time spent text that is going to be cut is a waste of time.

Okay, brief aside here. I know some may be asking why write something I know will get cut. Well, at the time, I don’t always know that it is material that needs to be cut. For me, it’s sometimes a think on paper moment that I need to have the story happen or shape itself. Later, I won’t need it. For example, I may spend far too much time on a character’s backstory or begin a story far sooner than it should. Heck, sometimes, I just change my mind about something that changes the entire story. This is my process. It works for me and not for everyone.

So, getting back to my point, staring with basic information a writer to address any areas that may trip him/her up in his/her journey to being successful. It also highlights which areas a writer needs to include or omit from his/her preparations. Besides, reminders never hurt. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

My biggest problem with brainstorming is the inspiration itself. I remember in grammar school, the teacher would say we should brainstorm a topic, and literally, my mind would go blank right then and there. The teacher would instruct to name the first thing that came to mind, and I’d say something like ice cream cones and the topic would be the Byzantine Empire. It would be a complete and utter disaster and the teacher would chastise me for attempting to be funny when in reality my brainstorming skills flopped. I didn’t understand why this was and disregarded brainstorming as useful. This brings me to the first point.

  1. Don’t discount brainstorming as a waste of time. Having this attitude will guarantee the task will be a failure. Many writers are eager to begin writing but then sit clueless in front of a blank computer screen or worse, write a bunch od dibble. If you’re baffled for story ideas or the direction a story should take, set aside time for a brainstorming session (or more than one if necessary) and have confidence the process will work. Write down random thoughts, ideas, and interests.
  2. Environment. Ensure that your surroundings are inducive to creativity. In short, visit places that inspire you or is known for creative energy. These may be places such as art galleries, concerts, plays/theatre productions, movies, beautiful countrysides, beaches, monuments/parks, mountains, festivals/carnivals, etc.
  3. Activities. Do things that you know cause you to be more creative. Some people get ideas while exercising or cleaning. Listening to music, eating certain foods work for others, meditation, and visualization methods that work for other people to increase their creativity. Just don’t become so involved in the activity that you forget to think.
  4. Bookstores. Walk around a bookstore in the genre you’re interested in and view subgenres. There may be topics that you’re interested in but hadn’t considered writing. Or maybe…
  5. Personal Wishlist. I’m going to use an adult word here that is likely to stir up a bit of dandruff, but don’t come at me too hard. Bear with me and hear me out. The word is fetish. Hang on. Don’t run off. It’s not what you’re probably thinking. (Or maybe it is.) According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of a fetish is an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. This sounds pretty negative, and for that reason, many people keep their fetishes a secret. But when the number of people with fetishes are added together, that number is not small. They may not share the same fetish, but they have a desire that isn’t mainstream and that isn’t being discussed. In the same light, there are books that aren’t written because the subject matter isn’t in the mainstream. Someone proclaimed that no one wants to read that type of material (whatever the subject material may be). However, there is an audience for everything. So, if you have a desire to write something, write it. In the words (kinda) of Field of Dreams, if you write it, they (readers) will come (read). Thus, write what you would like to read. Brainstorm what interests you personally.
  6. Uniqueness. Don’t worry about producing for trend unless what is on trend is truly a passion. I’ve discussed this subject in past posts as well. In short, when a writer chases a trend to make a quick sale, there are several issues. Writing for a trend can backfire. To break this down for NaNo where writers are attempting to complete a 50,000 manuscript in thirty days, if the writer is not into the story because of passion towards the story, he/she may stumble writing a unique story. In short, he/she may find himself/herself regurgitating a book already published. Take the Twilight series. There were plenty of books written about vampires before it. However, the author, Stephanie Meyer, created her own unique spin on vampires. The success of her series made the vampire trope very on trend. As a result, there is a barrage of vampire books many of which uses Meyer’s formula. Of course, publishing houses are going to pump these books out because they are in it for the money. Many of the books are quality, but some are poorly written cash-grabs. The market becomes saturated, and after a while, readers bore of it. And what new readers must remember, if first impressions mean a lot. Branding means everything. If someone says Stephen King, what is the first word that pops in mind? For me, it’s a book or movie that about to scare the crap out the reader/audience. If a new writer publishes a vampire book because it’s on trend and the then his/her next book is about a civil defense attorney fighting a corrupt nuclear plant that is polluting a town’s water system, that is going to convolute branding for that writer. Readers like to know what to expect from authors. That’s what makes a lot of readers return readers. Thus, when brainstorming, formulate ideas that will be unique to you and not what is on trend. Besides, by the time you complete the manuscript and have it polished for publishing, the trend may be at its end. Then, the writer is stuck with a book that’s not going to generate much interest.
  7. Dream Journal. This isn’t exactly a part of brainstorming, but it’s worth mentioning. Dreams are a wonderful source of writing material. The issue is that many people do not remember their dreams. One way to help remember is by keeping a dream journal beside you bed to immediately write down any dream before it fades. These dreams may be a jumping off point for brainstorming.
  8. Questions. Ask yourself questions. What is it that you want your story to say? What point of view do you want your story told? Do you want it to be dramatic or humorous? Where (location) do you want your story to take place? What is the time period? Who are the characters? What is the main plot? What is the subplot? What events happen in the story? Think of all the questions you will need to answer in order to be able to write your story, and answer each of them thoroughly.
  9. Internet. Aw, I’ve come to that unspeakable demon seed that I cannot exclude. The internet can be helpful to developing ideas for a story. It is perhaps the grandest of all brainstorming techniques/tools. However, it can send you into a spiral of unproductivity. I need a Pinterest intervention group. And let’s not even talk TikTok. But if you’re someone who has much self-control, there are many websites that list story ideas. Read through them and see if any spark interest.
  10. Research. As a pantser, this is an area that will grab me in a chokehold death-grip in a heartbeat. I may come up with what I consider a brilliant topic and begin writing a story. Then, I realize I don’t know a certain element that I need to know in order to make the story authentic. For example, when I wrote a medical romance about an ENT, I realize there were some aspects of procedure that I did not know. I thought I did because I’d seen many movies with ENTs. The one day, I watched a broadcast about one of my favorite movies whose main character was a first responder. Many of the scenes revolved around his job and coworkers. And do you know this broadcast had the audacity to point out factual flaws in the script? I say that sarcastically because this broadcast was spot-on correct. I hit up several ENTs and questioned the procedures in the movie and quickly realized that I couldn’t go on what I’d been watching. The reason I bring this up in the brainstorming prepping phase for writing is that putting off research can slow the writing process. If I need my ENT to talk about a medical condition, I need to know about the medical condition. I write sports romance. Occasionally, rules change, and those changes may be important to a story. Now again, because I’m a pantser, it doesn’t bother me to stop writing to conduct research. However, having only thirty days to complete a story throws a monkey wrench into the mix. There have been times when it has taken me several days to find the proper answer to a question. Finding some answers is like searching for a needle in a haystack. And when the answer is finally discovered, you may need to brainstorm the answer further.
  11. Garbage. No brainstorming session is garbage even if it may seem that way on the surface. Do not throw away any brainstorming ideas. Sometimes, a writer will have a good idea that does not click with him/her at the time he/she has the idea. However, later it may come together. I once found that I had two story ideas but get kept getting blocked in writing either one. I later realized that my two main characters belonged in the same story as adversaries. I didn’t have two stories after all.
  12. Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse. I’ve mentioned this previously in this post, but it’s worth mentioning it again. At the brainstorming stage, do not evaluate or critique the validity or substance of ideas. It’s too soon in the process for that. You’ll have plenty of time later. The purpose of brainstorming is to create ideas, not to eliminate them.
  13. Grouping. Once a writer compiles a list of ideas, he/she should group them together or combine like ideas or concepts. Many ideas may overlap. This may be a good thing because the it may reveal what interests the writer most. It also reduces the number of ideas, making it easier for the writer to focus.
  14. Word Association. Write down a series of topics/subject and list words that you associate with them. The more associations once can make, the stronger the concept becomes.

And those are my tips on brainstorming and what I’m using to prepare for NaNo. I’m sure there are plenty more out there. Did you find any of these helpful? What strategies do you use? I’d love to here your opinions and suggestions in the comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Be Your Best Self

A few weeks ago, the sad news of Chadwick Boseman losing his battle with colon cancer shocked the world and served as a huge reminder that to many that we never know what another person is privately suffering and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. We must share with others how we feel about them while we can. It’s so easy to put off or take for granted what we should do and appreciate today.

Prior to his death, I didn’t know much about Chadwick Boseman’s private life. I was inspired when I heard his story, and honestly, it made me want to do better. As ill as he was, he never quit striving or working. He didn’t ask for sympathy or sorrow. He didn’t make excuses to not give his fullest effort. He didn’t even speak out when people harshly criticized his appearance while he secretly fought cancer. Yet, I find myself discouraged sometimes by the little things—things so trivial they shouldn’t hit my radar. And as usual, I went to friends and writing companions to ask them if they felt the same. Not surprisingly, the answer was yes. So, I decided to write today’s blog on How to Be Our Best Self. Let’s go.

  1. Take care of yourself physically. Do not skip annual physical exams and medical checkups from your doctors. Get screened as recommended by medical professional.
  2. Take daily medication daily. Yeah, I know that sounds like a “duh,” but then there’s people like… well, me who when feeling okay may skip that iron supplement or blood pressure pill. It’s only one day, right? Then, one day turn tow two, three, twelve, twenty.
  3. Take mental breaks when necessary even if discouraged by others. A mental break may be a moment of meditation, vegging on a couch, or a month-long vacation in the Alps. This will very from person to person. The important thing is to clear the mind of stressful thoughts that provoke anxiety or negative energy towards self or others. Destressing is vital.
  4. Make lifestyle changes for real. Don’t just say it. Do it. If you want to lose weight, you can. Go to the gym. Pass on desserts. You have the inner strength to accomplish it. If traveling to France is what’s your heart’s desire, save the money. Have a garage sale. Collect aluminum cans. Pass on dining out. The little things will accumulate over time. Whatever you want can be obtained in time if you start small and persist.
  5. Don’t be discouraged. Not all dreams come true. I know I just wrote anything is possible with effort and here I am writing the contrary. However, sometimes life happens that alter the path in a different direction. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, Alternatives are better than the original. Be open to changes in that regard and re-evaluate if the original goal is what is truly desired. An associate constantly expressed how much she wanted to live on the beach. She would surf Zillow for beach home and watch the real estate programs on Home & Garden network. Then, a hurricane destroyed the coastal area she was dreaming to relocate. This gave her pause to reconsider. Suddenly, coastal living wasn’t as appealing to her.
  6. Recognize and rid life of toxic people. I had a former supervisor who praised me highly—at least, to my face. I have no idea what he said behind my back, but I couldn’t imagine it would be that much different. However, I could be wrong on that, but that really isn’t important to my point here. This supervisor who was married at the time became intimately involved with another supervisor who happened to be his supervisor. This was against company policy. Instead of firing him, he was given another position (a promotion) so that his lover would not be his supervisor. Flip forward some years later, I had an opportunity for advancement, and he was one of the people who could make the recommendation for me to advance. His word would have held a lot of power. But do I believe he fought for me? No. He’s a yes man who is only out for himself and what’s between his legs. (Yes, I said what I said.) At first, I was upset by what I truly think was his response. But then, I thought about it. He doesn’t owe me anything. Just because I was a good employee for him does not mean he is obligated by any means to sing my praises or give me a recommendation for doing my job. He’s entitled to his opinion if he thought someone else was more worthy of the promotion. And it’s irrelevant that he clawed his way to where he is by sleeping with the higher ups. Honestly, he’s no different than a lot of people in the world. Why should I have been hurt or even disappointed by his lack of support? I needed to re-evaluate the situation, and the conclusion I formed shocked me a little. While he owes me nothing, I owe him nothing. I don’t have to sing his praises, either. I don’t have to go above and beyond the basic minimum of job requirements and invest extra energy when I could spend that time and energy investing in myself. If it’s quid pro quo, I can give the same return as invested in me. He’s a toxic person to me whose actions cannot not be changed. Instead of reflecting on what happened, I can move forward in my career in a path that does not include him in any way. I’m the master of my future, not him. I began progressing in other ways.
  7. Learn more. I’m one of those people who don’t like being in the box but sometimes find myself there. In a former position, the supervisor would talk about using “tools in a toolbox.” This was a bunch of fancy talk bunk that sounded good but belong in a septic tank. Here’s why. Each time staff would attempt to use a tool, administration would say that tool couldn’t be used. That proverbial toolbox as perpetually empty. The administrates wanted the formulary protocol implemented despite repeated failures to work. In short, they were going to force a square peg into a round hole and bitch when they weren’t successful. Oh, they may call the circle an oval and the square a rectangle, but the results weren’t changing. And for them, it was too beneath them to ask staff. And for some time, I was brainwashed to believe that their formula was the only formula. Hence, I was stuck in that box. Then, I had a job change, and low and behold, those people had a completely different way of viewing situations. They encouraged creativity, and as a result were more successful. And it makes sense. Think of those most successful people in the world. It’s the people who created something, whether it be art, technology, medical breakthroughs, scientific theory formulations, etc. It’s the people who dared venture outside of the box.
  8. Lose inhibitions. The world is changing. More is being accepted on the daily. Speak your mind. Live your truth. Venture out of your shell. Not everyone will be accepting, and there may be some short-term losses or negativity. However, in the long-haul you will be your free authentic self not bound by chains of self-suppression. I remember taking the leap to write. It was scary. It was putting a part of myself out there for the world to critique and criticize. But that’s all part of it. Not person can be pleased. But isn’t please just one person enough? Isn’t putting a smile on one person’s face or helping one person get through the day worth a thousand criticisms. Last story of this post

Years ago, there was a man who had a horrible upbringing. Both of his parents had been married multiple times, and while he had eighteen half siblings and/or stepsiblings, he had no full-siblings. As a youth, he bounded around between his parents’ households and wasn’t very accepted. He grew to be a rather bitter person. However, he had a friend who accepted him unconditionally, and he latched onto this friend hard—so hard, that he become possessive. He did not want this person to have other friendships and interfered when he did. The only small exception was his friend had a close relationship with his family. The friend’s biological mother was deceased but had children from a previous marriage. The father had remarried but no children with his second wife. This blended family worked and was functional. Anytime the person would behave in a manner that would cause discord with his friend’s family, they checked him at the door. It was clear that the family wasn’t bulging and he would never come in between them. For that reason, he was semi-cordial to his friend’s family.

It’s fair to say this man had only one friend and no one really liked him. But something happened to change him. No one knows quite what, but he seemed to try to make an effort with people. Maybe it was because his one friend had become involved in a serious romantic relationship and had become a father. Problem was, no one bought into his change. He’d schemed so much in the past, people assumed it was another one of his trick or ploys. They treated him with the same distain, suspiciousness, and aloofness. Then the news came one day, he’d attempted suicide.

Most say suicide is a cry for help, and on some levels I agree. But what he did was beyond a cry. I will not get into specifics other than to say it’s only by the grace of God he continues to walk this earth. He did not tell anyone (not even his one friend) of his plans before carrying them out. He paid off bill he owed and prepaid for his funeral. He had written out such detailed instructions that had he been successful no one would have needed to do anything other than lock his front door. It was obvious he’d considered this for months.

After a recovering from his injuries, he began psychotherapy and was prescribed medication for depression. His one friend was afraid he would make another attempt and called upon his friends to befriend him. However, the man was very withdrawn and reluctant to accept help from people who reached out to him. It became apparent that he was emotionally fragile and afraid of people. Yet, there a woman who, in the past, he’d expressed an interest. When she reached out to him, he began to open a little. Eventually, they entered into a relationship. During their courtship, they resided in two separate towns. One weekend he traveling to visit her. He stopped in a different town to get some gas. As he was filling his tank, he saw a friend of his best friend. He waited for her to look in his direction and gave her a sly wave. In the past, he’d not treated her so nicely; therefore, she was one of the persons who had been skeptical about his change. She waved back but not enthusiastically. When she’d filled her tank, she began to leave but said she had a weird feeling. Instead of leaving, she approached him and made the general small talk for one or two minutes. She turned to leave, but the weird feeling remained with her and turned back to face him.

She asked him how he was feeling, and he replied with a generic “I’m fine.” But she felt that he wasn’t. So, she said to him that if he needed to talk, she would listen. It was a sunny day, and he was wearing dark sunglasses that she couldn’t see his eyes. However, when she said he could talk to her, a tear rolled from the side of his glasses down his cheek. She later discovered that he’d ran out of his medication and that his prescribing doctor was out-of-town. The nurse he’d spoke to had told him he’d have to call back the next week. As a result, this man had been without his depressive medication for five days. He’d gone to an afterhours clinic, but they refused to refill his prescription and basically accused him of drug seeking. She threw her arms around him and pulled him in for a hug. At that point, he broke down into sobs. He was barely holding on mentally.

She called his girlfriend and informed her of the situation, and then called her husband to tell him what was going on as well. This woman and her husband drove the man to the emergency room in the town that his girlfriend lived. He was able to get some help.

Today, he’s married to the woman he was dating then and has three children. His relationship with his parents and siblings has not improved. In fact, they are less involved in his life (which as toxic as they are isn’t a bad thing). He’s still friends with his best friend, and he’s formed many new and healthy friendships. He’s worked through many trust issues, and he’s let down his guard to allow persons to see the real him. During this 2020 quarantine, he started a TikTok page where he embarrasses himself (and his family) doing dance challenges. He’s really an awful dancer, but his ability isn’t what’s important. He’s having fun, and it’s fun to watch him having fun. Where he used to bring misery to people, he now invokes smiles and laughter. He’s shed his inhibitions to show who he is and try new things.

For years, he’d been to afraid to share his real personality and feeling to the world. But he’s truly a beautiful person inside and out.

Are you being your best self? What tips would you give others as to how to live his/her best life? I look forward to hearing your comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Buy your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or http://www.books2read.com/icegladiators

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Prep for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for extra short) which occurs each November. It is an annual online challenge to write a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days. Anyone can participate, and thousands do. This girl, however, does not. Why? I just may be the antithesis of NaNoWriMo. It appears to have the opposite effect on me. Instead of writing more, I find myself storyblocked and writing less. I literally will sit down to write and stare at a blank screen for hours with no ideas. If I currently have a story I’ve working on, I’m clueless of how to move the scene. About the only thing I can do productively is edit and even that is limited. Spell check and searching for omitted words fine. However, how to improve a scene or restructuring sentences to make them more dynamic is like attempting to catch smoke. It just doesn’t happen for me during NaNo. Call it a psychological block. I don’t know.

There’s a second reason I don’t participate. Professional writers will tell anyone willing to listen that writing as a profession isn’t only about a daily word quota. Writing 5,000 words in a day means nothing if 4,999 of them can’t be used. It’s not the quantity of words but the quality that matters. I forget who, but it is an author who is a best seller on just about every type of best seller list there is, said writing is her nine to five job. If she intends to support herself writing, she must ensure she is producing content. She can’t afford to have days where she is throwing away hours’ worth of writing. She compared it to a salesperson who works on commission. How many days can that person go without making a sale before their lifestyle is affected if that is the person’s sole source of income? She further explains when she throws away a day’s worth of writing, she’s throwing away a day’s pay. Looking at it from that point of view, it makes a lot of sense.

Another thing a professional writer will admit is writing is a business. That means there is a business side to it beyond writing words. This business side may include maintaining an author’s website, responding to readers’ emails, constructing marketing plans, editing, professional workshops and conferences, forming a beta team of readers, etc. Well-established writers may have staff or teams to handle many of these aspects. However, for new or midrange writers, they are responsible for handling these duties. Thus, there may be days that a write does not have time to work on writing a manuscript.

If a writer is working daily, by the time NaNo rolls around, that writer may be juggling several projects. The author I mentioned earlier stated that she generally has three manuscripts that she is working on at all times. These manuscripts each are in different stages. One is in outline form, where she is mapping out what she wants to do and writing short details and descriptions about characters. The second is a draft. If could be a first draft or fifth draft. It’s incomplete and unedited. The third is in the editing stage, and the final is complete and with the publisher/editor. Each day, she must set aside a time to address each of these manuscripts. Hence, she would be unable to devote an entire day to writing for one manuscript. While under these circumstances it still would be possible to write a 50,000-word novel, it increases the difficulty level.

Now, this in no way slams or shades NaNo, nor is it to imply persons who participate are not professional writers. This post is not saying that at all. On the contrary, NaNo can be and is for many an excellent motivational tool both for new and established writers. It is one way for writers to hold themselves as well as others accountable. Furthermore, it is a project event that brings the writing community together. NaNo groups encourage, advise, and support each other. Sometimes, it is this support and advice that is needed to help a writer complete a manuscript.

Since I’ve failed at NaNo each year I’ve tried and this is 2020—a year that has sucked beyond imagination and has caused me not to achieve so many other goals already—I decided to give the NaNo challenge another go but on my terms. In other words, I’m not going to follow the rules. Some would call that cheating and to that I say “SO? What’cha gonna do ’bout it? Nothing.” Seriously, NaNo is flexible, and I’m going to use that flexibility to my advantage. Here’s my plan, and maybe others would like to join me on my voyage. The worst that could happen is that we all sink like the Titanic. Although, you know, there is a conspiracy theory floating out there that the Titanic didn’t really sink and that it was swapped with a liner named Olympic as part of an insurance scam. I’m not saying anyone should buy this theory. I’m just putting it out there because it makes my bending the rules insignificant. (Actually, they were that anyway except in my mind.)

  1. I’m starting early. Well, not really but kinda sorta. See, I’m a pantser. Everyone knows this. NaNo requires at least some small amount of organization, which I have none. Zero. Nada. Therefore, I’m using the months of September and October to prepare for November. (Boy, my anxiety level just flew through the roof writing that.) This is going to require me to make lists, investigate what writing entails, and existential self-exploration.
  2. I’m not going to write a 50,000-word novel. Nope. Not happening. I refuse to pressure myself that way. And I bet people are asking well what’s the point? Hmm. I may, however, begin a new writing project, but I won’t have a target word count or completion date.
  3. I will not count any of my prep work as counting towards meeting NaNo goals.
  4. I will not have a daily word quota. Okay, not true. I must have at least one sentence of a minimum of five words. Otherwise, I could skip days and have the same results as every other NaNo. This sentence must be original content related to fiction (or a non-fiction) project. It cannot be a grocery list. However, it may include a brainstorming list as long as it is in sentence form.
  5. I will not have a daily writing time quota. Some people have designated times when they write, and I can see how this would be helpful. Many have a set amount of time they need to write. One famous writer states when she sits down to write, she writes in four-hour blocks as if she was clocking in to a nine-to-five job. While this makes sense to me, this isn’t feasible. If I wish to be successful at NaNo this year, I have to position myself in a way that is not doomed for failure. I already know there will be days I will be unable to dedicate four hours to writing, let alone, four-hour chunks. Also, it may stifle my writing to be this specific. (Pantser.) What happens if I were to set my writing time for the morning and sit there uninspired but develop a great idea that afternoon but am tied up doing other things which I could have done that morning had I not been sitting stumped at a computer?
  6. I will write something daily, but it does not have to be a manuscript. The writing can be anything creative or advancing my craft or career. Therefore, this could be writing blog posts which I do weekly anyway (Wednesdays at 10:00 CST and sometimes bonus posts on Mondays). During NaNo, I’m upping the ante to improve my blog posts in some way. It has to be an improvement or it does not count. This daily writing may also include writing blurbs for completed books or updating website pages with new content. I don’t normally do microfiction, but who knows? Some just might show up in the bayou.
  7. I suppose I should add a part B to that last one. Writing on social media will not count towards my NaNo writing unless it is to post a work of fiction of at least 50 words. I have to add this, because I do spend a great deal of time on Twitter.
  8. I will have an official place where I document my daily progress to ensure that I’m not cheating in my cheating.
  9. I will make a conscious effort to have handy at all times a place to jot down my brainstorming or story ideas. Usually, I have my phone with me and email myself or use the note section. However, sometimes, if I’m talking on the phone or doing something else, I don’t want to interrupt to try to get my email or notes. I have a small writing bag that I keep colored pens, a clipboard, notebook, and highlighters. The notebook is a place not only where I write I ideas but research notes, checklists, formatting instructions, and helpful writing information. I use it for as quick reference. I don’t’ have just one notebook because pages often get ripped out or smudged (because something leaked on them) in transfer. I use a backpack, and it’s a mess. So, I suppose that should be another rule.
  10. Prepare and organized a good writing bag with all writing materials needed in any writing situation. Included in this should be tissue, headache medication, bottled water, a small towel (to wipe seats or tables), and most importantly, a backup pair of headphone or earbuds. I’ve told this story previously, so I will give a brief summary as to not rehash why I think headphones are a necessary writing tool. I was in a public setting, and although there was plenty of places to sit and I had pulled a table to a corner and spread my belongings across the top, a many felt compelled to sit next to me. I couldn’t ask him to move. He had serious postnasal drip happening that was completely distracting. There were children making racket, and random people approached and felt they wanted to have a conversation with me despite my head being down and all up into my laptop. Headphone or earbuds can signal for people to keep a distance—although, this doesn’t always work. Listening to music not only blocks out my surroundings, but it boosts me in a frame of mind of writing. My earbuds are constantly breaking and/or malfunctioning. I have a pair of wireless ones that are good, but I can’t recharge them while they are in my ears.
  11. I will begin my brainstorming and to-list now. Some NaNo participants wait until November to do this, but others do this ahead of time, too. So, this isn’t a unique cheat. The brainstorming ahead of time will give me something to work with. The to-do list will keep me on task. For example, if I know I need to write a blurb but haven’t, I can add that on my to-do list. Because the point of NaNo is to complete a story. If I want to publish a story, it is not complete without the blurb. Therefore, to me, blurbs are technical parts of stories. Also, may need to edit a story. Usually, my edits require me deleting text, but sometimes, it requires me to add text (and then delete some). Again, if the aim is to have a complete story, a story isn’t complete without editing. Yes, I know the primary focus of NaNo is to create a completed draft, but I need editing to count. Oh, I detest some forms of editing, and I have files that sit there never seeing the light of day because they are unedited. Having a draft is good. However, drafts don’t become stories without editing.
  12. I refuse to allow myself to become discouraged if I have a bad writing date and do not make progress for that day. I will continue on the next day as if nothing happened. Years ago, I heard a dietitian speaking about reasons diets fail. She claimed that the number one reason people abandon their diets is that they fall off the wagon one day and think they have undermined all progress, and that undermining can’t be undone. That is why so many diets now stress that “slip” factor or allows for “cheating days.” I won’t include “cheat days” because that is an easy bad habit to slip into. However, I will forgive myself and continue if I do roll from the cart.
  13. I will measure my success of NaNo is if at the end of thirty days, I have produced significantly more writing or have more writing-related tasks completed than I have all other months in the year. For me, this will be a huge challenge, but I’m up for it.
  14. The rest I’m just going to fumble through as I go along. Look, don’t come for me. I already disclaimed that I’m a pantser and having a plan is more than enough.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have a prep plan? Have you participated in previous years? If so, what was the outcome? What other rules should I add to my list? I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Leave them in the box below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Buy your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or http://www.books2read.com/icegladiators

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

Practical Tips for Writers

And here is why writers should develop their own process and take advice with a block of salt.

On my current Work In Progress (WIP), I’ve been struggling with story block. Well, some time ago, I learned that there was a distinction between writer’s block and story block, and I determined that what I was experiencing was most definitely story block. Story block, you wonder? For those unfamiliar with the term, basically, writer’s block is an inability to develop ideas for a project. Story block is having a story idea but lacking the ability to produce content for a particular story.

Anyway, writing on my WIP has been a struggle for months. Mainly, I would write a paragraph, scene, or chapter, and then, I’d get stuck. Where does the story go from here? How do I advance forward? Am I hitting arc beats as I should? Now, the last isn’t a question I normally ask myself, and I didn’t start asking that until I notice I was receiving a consistent suggestion in reader feedback. Quick aside…Bear with me. It plays a part in the points I’ll later make.

I became a writer to entertain others. I’m constantly striving to improve and advance my craft. I 100% listen to reader feedback. So, when readers inform me they want something specific, I’m going to try my best to give it to them. This may not be without challenges or hurdles. Thus, the fact that I was adding something to my non-routine routine was throwing me. See, I’m not a plotter. (Oh, don’t start with me, plotters.) For me, intentionally adding specific elements require a certain degree of planning. Well, my avid (and vocal) plotter peers attempted to convince me that my panstering ways were the culprit of my story block dilemma. (Uh-huh!) And they almost had me convinced until I analyzed my situation further. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post.

So, it’s Wednesday, and I wake up early to a good start. Of course, Wednesday is when I post on my blog, and it tends to be my busiest day of the week. Posting rarely goes smoothly (always a tech glitch), and I end up getting the post uploaded close to the wire. Today, I had seven minutes to spare, which I think is a record for me. Even when I call myself doing it early, it always comes down to having to do something on Wednesday morning. And as is par for the course, things start to get stupid busy. I’m suddenly sleepy even though I’ve had a restful night, and I’m making all sorts of mistakes—I mean mistakes I generally don’t make. I tell myself I need to take a few minutes to break, wake up, and regain my focus. I take the break, but it doesn’t help much. However, I’m able to get the post uploaded. My intention is to return to working on my WIP, but I can’t. Story block is in full swing. Each word I try to write is a mumbo jumbo to my eyes. I can’t make sense of the text I’ve written. The story isn’t making sense. I’m not liking the scenes. So, I stop and decided to do the unspeakable. Edit. Yes, I’m going to start editing what I have before it’s close to being finished.

Editing as I go is nothing new to me, but it seems to be taboo—just ask my critique partners who nearly stoked out when I informed them what I was doing. Every time I have mentioned it to a writer friend, I’m dragged through the gutter for it. It’s a carnal sin to edit as one writes. Who knew? Fortunately, I don’t listen well. However, before I begin editing, I decide to give outlining one last-ditch go. Dumb, dumb, dumb! The small functioning part of my brain convulsed and died on the spot. I was in worse shape after having attempted outlining that when I was staying in my panstering lane. So, this is where it gets interesting.

I printed a hardcopy. Normally, I don’t print hard copies until I’m double-digit drafts in and close to sending it to my publisher who will ship it off to editing. On the title page, I attempt to map out the arcs for the two main characters. OMG! I was so lost. I went to YouTube and watched fourteen billion videos. None helped. I couldn’t see how my characters plugged into the model. They probably did (do), but my brain doesn’t function that way. Desperate, I began writing the things that I did know about my characters to see if I could make any of that fit into some type of outline. Nope. The only thing I was doing was wasting more time and creating more chaos. I needed to do something productive. Therefore, I began editing.

On the first page, I didn’t find many corrections. Granted this is a draft, so missing something at this point isn’t a big deal. I’ll go over it plenty more times. But on the second page, there was a sentence that popped out. I asked, “Should this character know this?” I highlighted it and moved on. A few pages over, there was a paragraph, and I asked “Should this be the behavior of the assigned character?” Next, I saw mention of a minor character that I completely forgot about but makes total sense he would be there. And slowly, it began to make sense as to why I was struggling. I have small gaps in the flow. (Stop it, plotters. I know what you’re thinking. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d had an outline. Oh yes it would have because I wouldn’t have realized the problem in outline form, either.) The overall story works, but these small gaps are what’s making it difficult to go from A to B. My writing needs to stop, and I need a full edit of what I have so far. The elements that were requested in feedback that I’ve been trying to work in, can plug in the gaps.

The takeaway is each writer needs to develop their writing process from scratch and not be convinced there is only one correct way. Do not allow others to convince you that your process is wrong if it has been working for you. The snarky remark that I received from one writer that being a panster wasn’t working for me couldn’t have been the farthest off base. It wasn’t working because I had altered it into a form that no longer worked. I changed my panstering which is natural (to me) to intentionally (i.e., plotting which deviates so far from my norm) to include certain requested elements. It was the attempting to force add (i.e., plotting) that was tripping me up. By editing, the elements will organically fit into what I’ve created instead of me attempting to create the situation for these things to occur—chicken or egg. I can’t explain my process to others well. I only know when it works and when it doesn’t work. I know editing as I go is something that works well for me. When I get stuck, I edit. It clears out the garbage and gives me a cleaner slate. I look at it like cooking.

When I’m cooking, I have all the bowls, utensils, and ingredients spread across the counter. As I use and dirty them, I set them aside. If I run out of counter space, I wash them at that time. I don’t wait until I’ve completed the entire meal before I do the dishes. I clean up as I go along. By the time I’m finished cooking, there’s little cleanup left. I like it when I finish my first draft that it is pretty good shape. In editing, it allows a different part of my brain to work. I’m not creating something. I’m improving what already exists. It allows me to refocus and sense a new perspective. I know to stick to my guns. Why I wasn’t doing that early on, I have no idea.

So what is the takeaway?

  1. I took a moment to write about this experience because I felt it may help another writer struggling with self-doubt. However, in reality, this could apply to any given situation. You must understand your self-value and capability. Do all those clichés. Listen to that small voice inside of your head. Follow your heart. Go with your gut instinct. Believe in yourself.
  2. Another reason I wrote this is because I’ve been requested to get back to doing more writing-related posts. At the beginning of 2020, I announced that I likely would stray from doing a writing-related post on the first Wednesday of every month, as I was beginning to experience scheduling conflicts. But that was back in January, and since then, we’ve all seen how 2020 has been working out. After I meet some obligations, I will re-evaluate it this needs to continue to be the situation or if it is feasible for me to go back to the old way. Let me know what writing topics you’ll like to me cover.
  3. There are very few writing rules. However, there are plenty of guidelines. Guidelines may be helpful, but they do not have to be utilized. That being said, many guidelines are useful and should be followed.
  4. You’ll never get ahead if you’re chasing the pack. In a race, if you’re chasing the leader when you cross the finish line, you’re not in the first place. You didn’t win. You did well, but you may have done better. It is the same with writing. If a writer spends his/her time merely trying to copy an established writer, the writer copying will never produce anything original. The most popular writers are popular because they found a style unique to them to tell their stories. When readers reach for stories written by them, there is a certain level of expectation.
  5. Use everything as a learning experience. There are no bad lessons. Even if something works out negatively, there’s a value in it. You learn what to avoid and how to avoid it the next time.
  6. Forms and styles change. You will never advance your craft if you don’t push yourself to try more.
  7. It’s all about trial and error. Very rarely will a writer get it right the first time.
  8. They are words on a screen or piece of paper. They can be changed and corrected. There’s no need to become frustrated because anything can be fixed. Becoming frustrated will slow and worsen the process.
  9. Story block and writer’s block happens to everyone from time to time. Many times, it can be overcome by eliminating the stress that frees the mind to be creative. Finding ways to relax will help with writing.
  10. There are lots of videos on YouTube about popular author’s writing processes. If you don’t have a writing process that you’re happy with or that is working for you, gain some ideas of what works for others by viewing these types of videos.

**Yes, I know this article states Wednesday but it’s posted on a Monday. That is because it was uploaded for last Wednesday but I decided at last minute not to upload due to having a bonus post.**

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

How to Write Sports Romance – Part II

In February, I wrote a blog post titled: Sports Romance Writing Tips: How to Write Sports Romance (https://bit.ly/2U4nmav). In that post, I created a list of generalized tips that I have found useful in writing my sports romances and thought may be helpful to any writer who wishes to explore this subgenre. What I failed to realize is just how sparse the information on this topic is. Now, if you’re asking how could that be since I already wrote one post about this topic and should have discovered it then, I at that time did discover that it wasn’t a widely covered topic. However, after the first post, I began to think that perhaps I had not having conducted enough research. First, I went old school to several brick and mortar libraries (yes, they still do exist) in the area. I believe I visited six all total. I found a lot about sports and a lot about romance. I even found a good deal of sports romance novels. What I did not find was the process of writing a sports romance. Mostly, the how-to discussed how-to-write romance—which is important. However, there are some considerations that are unique to sports romance that isn’t included in general romance.

Therefore, I expanded my internet search to include more media outlets. I still did locate much. And when I searched for specific questions about sports romance novels, I came up with even less. So, I’m back with some additional information. Strap in and away we go.

  1. Explore sports. Many sports romances are about characters who play football, baseball, basketball, or hockey. Occasionally, one may find a story about tennis, soccer, rugby, swimming, or gymnastics stars. These are sports that have huge fanbases and are widely popular. However, there are so many other sports (e.g., lacrosse, bowling, archery, fishing, skiing, wrestling, skating, etc.) that are very underrepresented in sports romance novels. Don’t be afraid to change pace, switch it up, and bring readers something new. It may not be that readers are uninterested, but rather, writers know little about these sports. Many readers who enjoy this genre are sports lovers in real life, and they would not mind seeing other sports. For example, I’m not a huge basketball fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m not down for a good basketball romance. Why? Because there’s something about athletes and the way they approach issues pertaining to their profession. Ever been to a sports bar and notice that most of the patrons don’t care what team or sport is on the screen? Take, for example, Buffalo Wild Wings. When patrons come in, many will ask to sit in an area that their favorite team is playing or ask the screen to be switched to a game. However, if they are told that their team isn’t being shown for whatever reason, most enjoy whatever game(s) is (are) showing. In fact, many times, they enjoy watching several games while they eat. There are plenty of restaurants (many cheaper) that patrons can purchase wings. However, BWW is a popular hangout because people want to watch sports on big screens with other sports fans. They are there for the experience. Books offer experiences. Give the reader a good sports to cheer, whoop, and holler for, and they are happy. In the past, I’ve found myself engrossed reading (and watching) novels about sports I thought I had no interest in (e.g., roller derby, monster truck, and darts).
  2. Sports romance is still romance. As mentioned in my previous post, sports romances follow the same guidelines as all other stories in the romance genre. The romance comes first. If the romantic relationship between the lead characters can be omitted without altering the plot, then it is not a romance and falls into some other genre. The romance must be the focal point and not an afterthought. And a huge point of contention that it must have a happy ending. Yes, I said it. If it does not have a HEA or HFN, it’s something other than a romance. Now, does HEA and HFN mean everything is smooth and easy peasy for the main characters? Nope. They may have suffered a lot along the way and lost much on their journey. It doesn’t even mean these characters won’t have future problems. However, it does means that the two love interests are together as a couple. But what about Romeo and Juliet? What about it? It was a tragedy. Not a romance. Often, it’s listed as a romantic tragedy. I think it’s fair to say that stories such as these now are more commonly referred to as dramas. Now, I know many of my fellow romance writers will disagree with me on this point, and that’s okay. That’s why I previously stated that it was a point of contention, and I’m not here to debate the issue. At the end of the day, a story belongs to the writer. Writers are free to label and market their story however they like. It’s not my place to say otherwise. However, do not be surprised that when a novel labeled as “romance” does not have a HEA or an HFN ending, that a large portion of the readers may be unhappy. NOTE: there is one huge exception to this rule. If the writer is writing a series that the romance is spread across several books, the HEA or HFA may not occur until the final book in the series.
  3. Percentage of sports incorporated. The amount if sports included in a sports romance novel is determined by the author. This is an area that I personally find the most trying at times. There’s no secret formula that dictates a percentage or how many scenes must be related to sports. However, as with the romantic relationship, the sports element must be included and related in some way to the plot. As the romance can’t be viewed by the reader as an afterthought, the sports elements included can’t, either. Just because the main character is an athlete does not by default categorize that book as being a sports romance. Let’s take this real old school for a moment and think about the 1950s sitcom, I Love Lucy which aired from 1951 to 1957 on CBS. In the sitcom, breadwinner Ricky Ricardo was a musician who performed in a nightclub while Lucy was a housewife. Ricky’s profession was important because many of the episodes centered around Lucy wanting to be famous, perform in the nightclub, or meet a famous person performing in the nightclub. Now, think to Leave It to Beaver which aired from 1957 to 1963. Again, a happily married couple where the husband (Ward) is the breadwinner and the wife, June, remained at home. But what did Ward do? He worked, but what was his profession? Was it ever important to the storyline? All viewers ever saw was that wherever he worked, he wore a suit and carried a briefcase. He could have been an architect, stockbroker, real estate mogul, or anything. Where he worked never mattered to any of the plots. In a sports romance, the element of sports needs to be the Ricky Ricardo kind in that it must affect the story and shouldn’t be easily interchangeable with another profession. Sure, Ricky could have been an actor or dancer, and the character still would have worked because these professions remained in the entertainment field. However, what if Ricky was a politician, an accountant, or a mechanic? Many of the episodes wouldn’t have worked. Likewise, changing the main character from a football player to a baseball player may not significantly alter a sports romance (although it might due to football being a contact sport and baseball not). However, if a football player character can be switched to an accountant and the story still works, then likely there is a problem.
  4. Percentage of sports incorporated part II Continuing down this same path, it sometimes is difficult for a writer to know how many sports scenes are enough. If as a writer you’re struggling with knowing the writer balance of sports to include in your sports romance, understand that this is a common problem with sports romance writers. Do not allow this to frustrate or discourage. Write the story anyway and save those questions until you’re ready to begin the self-editing process. Often after a draft is completed, a writer is able to determine what is needed. Additionally, this is an area that beta readers can guide the writer in what direction he/she needs to head.
  5. Move forward. Each sports scene should move the plot and the romance forward. Having a great sports scene solely for the purpose of meeting a sports scene “quota/ requirement” will come across as fluff and disinterest readers who are invested in the story. This leads directly to the next point.
  6. Don’t underestimate the audience. Too much exposition on explaining the sport may be boring or put off some readers. Remember, much of the audience who read sports romance are sports fans. They won’t need the rules of the game explained to them. However, this does not give writers free-range to be overly technical. Just because a person is a fan of a sport does not mean that person knows or understands everything about the sport. There also may be readers who are completely unfamiliar with the sport. A good rule of thumb is to use as much technical jargon needed to keep the text sounding authentic and enough exposition to avoid or eliminated confusion.
  7. Sports romances can be either plot-driven or character-driven. This decision is up to the writer. Plot-driven stories are ones that external conflict happening to the characters. Often in this type of story, character development is secondary to the plot. This is not to say that character development does not occur in plot-drive stories. However, it is not the major focus. Character-driven stories focus on the internal conflict happening within the character. These types of stories tend to deeply explore the emotions and thought processes of the characters.
  8. Keep the audience in mind when writing. In previous posts, I’ve discussed the topic of writing to market. Now, for some writers, this is what they enjoy doing, and they do it well. It is not something without risk. I won’t go into those risks because that is not the topic of this blog. But when a writer writes to market, that writer is specifically making a conscious choice to write for a specific audience. When one writes in a subgenre, it very important to understand that mainly the writer is targeting a specific audience. For example, if an author writes a contemporary romance, it may draw the interest of readers who enjoy paranormal romance, suspense romance, romcom, chic-lit, etc. It’s a broad category that will interest many readers. When an author writes a sports romance, it’s probably a good bet the reader enjoys sports. That reader pool is smaller. Therefore, it essential that the readers wants and needs are satisfied. Now, that may sound like a “well, duh!” In all fairness, it probably is. However, many times, this is an area that gets slammed in beta reading because the writer did not carefully select the beta readers. I once got a really harsh criticism of a manuscript. I was truly bothered by it until I realize the person giving the criticism was unfamiliar with the topic. Things that she said were incorrect were actually things that I had verified with experts in the field. It wasn’t that her critique was incorrect, it was incorrect for me. The problem was that we lived in two different areas, and the procedures followed here were different. Think about it. Persons living along coastal lines react differently to the word hurricane than persons living in the Midwest. Likewise, blizzards are interpreted differently in the Southern US than in the Northern US. Following the advice of persons who are not interested in or familiar with sports romance may lead you astray. In short, be selective in critique partners, beta readers, and some editors.

Let me know if you found these tips helpful and if you would like more posts on this topic.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

The Secret Life of Blogging

In this season of “The Rona,” I’ve been reading over past blogs, trying to stay positive, and provide quality content. In this review, I’ve noticed that some of my previous posts should be updated or that some aspects of the previous topics/subjects were not addressed. That is the case with blogging or being a blogger, and what better time to rectify that than now.

These days, especially having been quarantined for so long, many people looked for ways to occupy their time in isolation. For some, not being able to go places or socialize was no huge adjustment. For others, it felt as if the world had ended. And that is not to make light of the situation. Many people lost their jobs and healthcare and have many grave concerns ahead about how they are to recover. All any of us can do is take one step at a time. As with everything else, some people will have an easier transition than others. So, what does that have to do with blogging? Well, nothing and a lot. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but bear with me.

I started Creole Bayou blog in late 2017. I was just getting my feet wet and made so many mistakes, not to mention all of the technical issues I had. It wasn’t until early 2018 that I started to get it together. However, I believe this was a little late to the party. The blogging space is saturated. (So is everything else, honesty.) YouTube and podcasts were taking off. People seemed to prefer streaming and listening to audiobooks. Who has time for blogs? And why would anyone want to blog with the other media outlets available? What is the purpose?

Let’s start with purpose. I’ll start with a specific example and move to a more general one. My blogging goals were to bring quality information that may be difficult to find one location to assists that persons searching for this information will not be forced to bounce all across the web for hours. Specifically, I wanted to have a forum for Creole culture. At the time, gathering information on this topic was difficult for several reasons. First, it was often lumped as being synonymous with Cajun, which it is not. Information was often segmented or departmentalized. For example, one site may provide information only about Creole food while another site may provide information solely about Creole music or dress. Often times, the information that was written was little more than a few paragraphs or generic information. Some sites simply regurgitated the same information as others. Thus, a person seeking to learn more would be reading the same information repeatedly. I found that to be frustrating. Anyone who has ever watched Shark Tank (and I have to refer to that because I wasn’t a business or marketing major and do not want to speak out of place) have heard The Sharks define a good product as one that identifies and solves a real problem that others would like to have solved. Well, for me, I felt not having a concise place for information about Creole culture was a problem, and I heard many others express an interest in the topic.

Anyone thinking of beginning a blog should begin at a similar point. The person should consider why he/she wants to begin a blog and what he/she expects to achieve from it. If the person is wanting to blog for any purpose other than personal journaling, then he/she needs to consider what appeal the blog will have to others. Is there interest by others about the blog subject? What problem(s) about this topic will the blog address? Is there much information already about this topic on the internet? If yes, what will you add to make yours different? Is there enough information about this topic to write consistently about it? Are you as a blogger informed enough about the topic write about it? For example, I am crap at micro-fiction. I’m not by nature a sci-fi writer. I would be very irresponsible to write a post on how to write a sci-fi micro-fiction piece—at least, not without a lot of research and a great deal of help from someone who is very knowledgeable in that area. Now, I’m not saying a blogger cannot tackle a topic that he or she is not an expert. Some very effective blogs have been learn-with-me blogs where the blogger invites readers to follow their process of learning about something. In this instance, it’s a joint venture. So, if I were crazy enough to write a blog about how to write a sci-fi micro-fiction, I would present myself as a novice and share with readers the mistakes and positives that I discovered in attempting to write this type of work.

Second, understand that blogging takes time and effort. Unless already has a large social media following, be prepared to be swamped among the thousands of other blogs already out there. Readership may be small or nonexistent. Most of the blogs with thousands of followers are either famous persons or persons who have worked for years establishing a following. Instant fame is rare. However, sometimes, for whatever the reason (right place, right time) a novice will have a blog skyrocket. Some knew bloggers pay for advertisements or have connections with other bloggers that spread the word or allow them to piggyback. However, for the majority of bloggers, they should expect that their blog may not grow as fast as they would like. This does not mean, however, that it will not grow. The one thing that is known about a blog is that the longer it exists and the blogger posts consistently (I’ll come back to this later.), the more likely it is that the readership of the blog will increase.

Not only will it take time to develop an audience, but it also takes time to create content. This sometimes (most times) requires investigating or research. As mentioned earlier, a blogger should be informed and knowledgeable about the content that he/she writes. Readers expect reliable and accurate information from the blogger. The exception to this would be if the blog posts fiction excerpts, topics for debate where support for a point-of-view is solely subjective, or a blogger who is posting about his/her personal experience. Otherwise, blogging may require interviewing another person or visiting an area. It also requires (I hate to use the P-word but I must) planning. What are you going to post? When will you post it? How often will you post? How long do you want your posts to be? Do you want to include graphics/photos? Where will you get these graphics/photos? How long will it take to write the blog? When will you have time to write the blog? When will you create the graphics? What program will you use to create the graphics? How will you let other people know about your blog? And those are just a few questions to begin.

Sure, content can be anything, but it should be of good quality. It can be difficult work, and it may require some “do-overs” to get it right. Again, this may take some research. However, what many bloggers find the most difficult about content is developing content ideas. What to write about can be a major issue. If the blog is a personal journal, then coming up with a topic may not be as difficult. However, if your blog has a narrow forum, one may struggle to find topics or a fresh way to discuss topics. For example, if a person is blogging about cheesecake, there may only be so many ways of how to make and types of cheesecake. This especially may be a factor if you are a daily blogger.

Content may change over time. That is the case with Creole Bayou. The blog has grown over to cover more topics. This has occurred for many reasons. For one, the author has multiple interests. Two Creole culture is a culture. It’s not exclusive in persons of that culture only experience things exclusively in that culture. For example, mental health affects everyone. I’m a writer, so if I create a writing-related blog, it is not only meant for writers who are Creole. It is intended for all writers. Furthermore, I listened to the readers. When they send me questions or suggest a topic I cover, I do my best to oblige if I’m able and knowledgeable on the subject. Change is nor a bad thing or something to be feared. Thus, bloggers should always strive to grow. Additionally, sometimes, as a blogger, you may want to take a break from your typical content. However, be careful here that you do not alienate your audience. Remember, they come for a specific type of content. For example, if a blog is about beauty and suddenly the blogger starts posting only automotive posts, chances are, some viewers are going to tune out. That happened with me and one of my favorite YouTubers. She decided she wanted to take her channel in a new direction, which was her right and nothing wrong about it. However, her new content just was not for me. It was not something that I could relate to.

Sometimes, content must change. If a niche is too small or narrow, it may never grow. A fellow writer told me he had to change his content because his blog was stagnant. The readers he had did not engage, and his numbers remained the same. He said it was disheartening to invest so much effort with no payoff. (When he said payoff, he wasn’t speaking of monetary payments.) So, he altered his content, and he gained more interest. This wasn’t selling out. He remained true to his core. However, he added more content.

Consistency is a must. One of the best ways to build a following is to have a schedule of when you post. There are so many benefits to regular posting. Blogging is excellent for building a brand. Branding happens when a person’s name becomes associated with a specific image, event, activity, or subject, he/she wants others to associate him with. The quickest way to have people make the association between the author and what the author wants others to link him/her to is the number of times the person is paired with that brand object. In a way, branding is sought after stereotyping. For example, in the 1980s films, “nerds” were portrayed as persons with slick/oily hair, high-water pants hitched above the waist, thick-framed glasses (often secured in the middle with masking tape), and clunky shoes. They were written to be either to have genius-level or flea level intelligence. Because Hollywood had been consistent with giving the audience the physical look, once a character like that appeared on screen, audiences often begun making assumptions about the character’s personality and traits. Bloggers who are consistent in posting typically have larger followers because their audience knows what to expect from them and when to expect it.

I don’t know if it is appropriate to say that the internet is infinite, but it definitely is large. There’s enough room for anyone who wants to blog to blog. If you want to begin a blog, do it. There will be plenty of people who may attempt to discourage you. Don’t listen. They will argue that no one reads blogs anymore. Just because they don’t, does not mean that it is true for everyone. Anything that you want to do (that’s legal and nonviolent) is worth trying. Some will argue that it’s impossible to get noticed/famous from blogging. Two things here. First, it’s difficult but not impossible. Second, that only matters if that is something important to you. Some people do not want to be massively famous. They do it for fun or for a service. I know several people who garden. They post their garden photos to social media frequently because they want to share what they’ve accomplished. It’s not a priority for them if they get one view or a million views (although a million probably would make them happy).

These are some things that just skims the beginning of blogging. Each point could be broken down further. If blogging is something that you’re interested in and you would like to read more of this type of post, let me know in the comment section.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

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Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

The Secret Life of Beauty

I don’t write many beauty posts because I’m not a beauty guru or MUA, but I felt compelled to write this as I dare to re-enter some form of normalcy post The Rona—who really has done the most these last two months. I’m not making light of the situation, but like so many others, trying to maintain sanity. Sometimes, things get so bleak the only prevention from a complete meltdown is to make light and laugh at whatever one can. It is searching for a sliver of silver lining and weaving that one strand into a duvet. However, I must confess that I have been blessed and fortunate not to have been struck with the hardships I have been hearing and seeing in the media.

I’ve heard so many people say they are done with or are over 2020. People have lost their jobs, homes, and livelihoods. Economies and communities are in turmoil. People’s mental health and spirits have been crushed and broken. For many, the future is more uncertain now than ever. The worst part about it is that no one seems to have any viable answers. There is no safe haven from this “new reality” we’re living. I don’t know any people who have said they are enjoying this period in time—although, I’m sure there are some who are. I believe this because I know where I work there are some people who are absolutely miserable unless they are creating drama of some sort. I have one coworker who goes as far as looking into trashcans to complain about what has been discarded. And no, I’m not talking about employees who toss out items that shouldn’t be or being wasteful. I’m speaking of being as petty as tracking female coworkers’ menstrual cycles based on feminine hygiene products being disposed of in restroom trash bins. (These bins are deep but have no lids. One must peer inside to see what has been thrown away. Now, tell me, how sick is that? But yes, that is the level of petty some of my coworkers will stoop.)

It is crushing for me to hear these stories of people suffering and basically helpless to do anything about it. It almost seems dismissive or belittling to say that we’re all in this together when everyone’s experience varies so drastically. Some people are satisfied in being bound in hate and intolerance while others are attempting to grow in love and education. The past cannot be unchanged, and the future is what anyone makes of it. Creating a future may be messy, and it may not work out as planned. All one can do is try.

I seek to reclaim the remainder of the year to be positive and filled with good energy. So, what does any of this have to do with beauty? Let me explain. But before I do, know that this is not in any way intended to be a political post. How one feels about policies or decisions made by government officials is not the topic of concern. I’m not to defend or dispute any agenda or point of view.

I work an “essential” job that required masks to be worn due to employee’s potential exposure. Let me explain. Persons who receive services are all considered vulnerable and/or high risk. There was an outbreak and multiple cases were verified (even deaths). Both staff and persons served were identified as having the virus. To help lower transmission, employees were mandated to wear masks at all times and socially distance themselves while in their assigned areas. It also restricted areas that staff could go. Before entering, it was mandated to have temperature taken (BTW not by a nurse or anyone in the profession and who cleaned the thermometer using the same small alcohol towelette square).

The numbers were kept quiet for the most part, and discussion about it among staff was discouraged. However, some information was released to the media. I won’t dive into all of that but know there was at least one confirmed death. So, employees willing wore masks–not so much for our protection but to protect others, specifically to reduce the risk of spreading it to the vulnerable persons we serve.

There were guidelines to not only wearing but caring for the mask. The masks were required to be washed daily. The inside removable “filter” (which also required daily washing) looked like a recycled shoulder pad from the 80s, no lie. Breathing wearing those things was dang near impossible. This is also not to mention how ugly they were. But that is, what was provided. (Most staff eventually procured other masks from outside sources at their own expense.)

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Now, this regulation translated to having to wash the mask and “filter” daily by hand. Because come on, who is going to run an entire washing machine cycle for one mask? And who wants to wear a damp mask, because they were not always dry by morning. Therefore, employees tried their best to keep their masks as clean as possible. One way to do this was to eliminate/limit wearing makeup and skincare products as these things can soil and/or weaken the fabric of the mask. As I explained to others who were opposed to wearing masks, for me it was no different than when my dental hygienist or dentist wear masks to perform my dental care. I’ve never taken offense to healthcare providers wearing masks. I work in a division of healthcare. My complaint was the quality of the mask provided. I promptly asked if employees were limited to wearing solely the masks provided. When the response was no, I took that as an opportunity to purchase masks that suited my personality and were a bit more fashionable (as far as masks go). But I digress.

Playing with makeup is one thing that makes me happy. It allows me to be creative and relaxes me. It a small thing, and it seems petty to say that my days were a little sadder because that was an activity that I had to give up. And in the large scheme of things, I suppose it is. I apologize for my pettiness. However, with everything that has been happening in the world, I needed a diversion. I needed to find a way to occupy my sheltered-in downtime and to uplift my work environment. Without getting into the convoluted and messy web of the situation, I had a strange position than many where I was required to physically be present but for much of the day was isolated while I waited to be called to do something—sort of like a stakeout where the main part of the job is waiting for something to happen that calls you into action.

During this period, I spent time reviewing previous blogs for what needed to be updated, revised, or expanded. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know that I also (like so many others so don’t come for me) drown part of my social distancing sorrows and woes in online shopping. I didn’t buy a lot, but I did shop makeup—items on my wish list. This is what brings me to this post. So many items were sold out, and I began to notice some patterns. These patterns caused me to re-think some of my purchasing habits.

Everything on sale always sold out. This reminded me of Black Friday sales at a particular electronic store. Without fail, the store would advertise whatever the hottest computer or electronic product that season would be on sale for an outrageous discount. Laptops that would be normally priced at $5,000.00 or $6,000.00 dollars would be marked down to $300.00 or some insanity. Hundreds of people would start forming a line outside of the store at 3:00 AM for a 6:00 AM opening. What the store neglected to reveal in the sale advertisements was that there was only one item marked for that price. Eventually, they hit some legal issues about this, and they started to list “limited supply” in small print on all of their ads. I don’t know if “mandated” is the correct word, but the store also was made to have more than one of the sale items. After problems continued, a local new station began reporting the lines at stores and advising people that if they wanted high demand sale items to remain at home if they were not in line as these items would like already be sold out. This reporting really curved some stores from engaging in this practice, as people at home took the reporters’ advice, and shoppers standing in line who heard the numbers left before opening.

Fast forward to pandemic online shopping. I would receive an email advising of a sale, and the minute I go to sight, the item is sold out. Not just one sale item but nearly every sale item with a link to be notified when the item returned to stock. However, once the item restocked, it would be sold at regular price. Now, it is possible that because so many people were at home and shopping online that products were selling out quickly. However, I had questions. It would be more understandable to me if the items on sale were new releases, but most were not. These were items that had been available for many years. It even would have been more understandable if the items were being discontinued, which would suggest limited inventory. Second, why were no regular priced items sold out?

Now, I’m no dummy and I understand the point of a sale is to entice shoppers to the place of business with the hopes that shoppers will make purchases in addition to sales items. However, I’m the type of shopper that will make a business go broke. If I’m unable to purchase the sale item that I specially came for, I refuse to look around and leave without making any purchases. I will only shop continue shopping once I have the sale item. Also, I’m the type of shopper who will purchase a higher-priced item at another store chain if I feel I’ve been deceived. For example, if sale item A is sold out in store XYZ but the store has item B for $5.00, I’ll go to store ZYX to purchase item B even if it’s being sold at a higher price or purchase item C from ZYX.

It’s not always the store. Sometimes, it is the brand that is the issue. I have seen this many times. One brand is notorious for releasing a product and not restocking for months. After watching a YouTube review of a specific beauty product, I decided to purchase it. I first went to Ulta, and it was sold out. I hit up local drugstores and Walmarts in three cities (because I’m mobile) to no avail. I would even ask the workers what days did they receive new stock so I could check back. The product wasn’t selling out as soon as it arrived. It wasn’t being sent. Literally, I checked over twenty stores regularly for over a year. I began asking myself, why was that the only product not being restocked. Why were so many other products by this brand consistently available?

I had to wait almost eighteen months before I was able to purchase this product. And honestly, it probably wasn’t worth the wait. Recently, this same brand is at it again with another product not being available. It’s been nearly six months, and it’s nowhere to be found. Even in the height of the pandemic where some items (e.g., hand sanitizer and toilet paper) were in high demand, they were being shipped and sold soon upon arrival. There also was an issue with hoarders. But who’s hoarding makeup? Surely, someone at the company is doing the numbers. If product A is selling but product B isn’t, why wouldn’t you make more of product A and less of product B? They may have a really good explanation for it. I’m not an economic or business major. Furthermore, it is not my place to tell a business how to run their business. However, as a customer, I do have a right to take my business else place, which is what I’ve done. I purchased a similar product at a higher price point. And while I would have liked to have had a discounted price, the brand that I purchased is consistent about keeping the product in stock and is of good quality. I’m all about brand loyalty.

Expensive does not equal quality. Anyone who knows me knows I love a bargain. I also appreciate recycling and being environmentally conscious. Thus, I do not like waste. I stopped purchasing cosmetics from drugstores because I could not sample the product and found myself wasting time, money, and product. However, just because something has an expensive price does not mean it is a better-quality product. It is the ingredients/material of the product that is important. Often, a person is paying for the name or brand of a product. When purchasing, it is important to consider not only the ingredients but how they are being used and to what percentage. Sometimes, a small portion of an expensive ingredient is added just to say it has been added in ordered to increase the price. There are affordable options that are just as good or better than their high-end counterpart.

It’s not wrong to pamper self. It may seem selfish or as I stated earlier, petty, but mental health is important. Sometimes, a person must take the time to selfishly do something for himself/herself. Makeup may not be pampering for everyone. However, for some people, it is very rewarding. I may make one feel pretty or express a part of one’s personality that is generally hidden. The thing about getting dolled up in makeup is that for the most part, it is not done for someone else. It is done by the individual for oneself. And speaking of…

Makeup is self-expression. Make should not be applied to alter one’s appearance solely to please another person. Each person possesses natural beauty. Makeup should enhance the parts of beauty that the applier wants to enhance. Some people are comfortable with no enhancements—and that’s because enhancement is never needed. No one should ever feel pressured to wear makeup to feel beautiful. The true secret of beauty is no secret at all. It was stated so long ago. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. With that, have a beautiful day. Love yourself and be good to each other. Stay safe and sane. Escape when you need it. Keep both your mind and heart open.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How to Self-Edit

Self-editing is a task that I absolutely have a love-hate relationship. I love knowing that at the end of the process, I will have a much better story. And of course, my main aim is to produce quality work. I despise it because it is tedious and, at times, seeming impossible. It can be a daunting job to tackle. In fact, some writers get so entangled in editing that it is the sole reason for them never completing their novel.

I need to stop here and point out that there are different types of edits and different styles of editing. There is no right or wrong other than omitting it completely. That’s a no-no. Some writers choose to edit as they go. Some choose to edit at the end. Some do a hybrid. What I’m writing about today is the process of self-editing. Self-editing should not be the only editing that a writer does. I realize that hiring an editor is expensive, but think of it along the line of having your car serviced. There’s nothing that says a person cannot change his/her own car oil. Having a professional do it is simpler in many ways. For shorter works, only doing self-edits may be feasible or even wise. However, professional editing versus self-editing is a controversial discussion for another day.

I’ve previously written posts about editing. Those have been some time in the past. I’m sure that much of the information may be repeated, but I’m sure that new stuff is included here. Also, a refresher never hurts.

Briefly, let’s discuss the type of book editing. (NOTE: The types of editing are listed in alphabetical order and not necessarily in the order that most writers do them. It also should be noted that some will argue that there is no order for these edits to be conducted or that all of them are necessary. However, it makes practical sense that some types of edits occur before other types of edits. Otherwise, the writer will waste time doing double work. For example, what is the point of doing line edits when the entire section of work needs to be deleted/omitted?) Furthermore, the following list of types of edits are not exhaustive. However, these are some of the most common ones.

  1. Copy Editing/Text Editing: This type of edits focuses on ensuring clarity and consistency by looking at issues such as capitalization errors, filler words, grammar, dangling participles, dialogue tags, industry-standard writing style (APA, CMoS, MLA, etc.), pacing, passive voice punctuation, sentence structure/parallelism, spelling, story inconsistencies, typos, verb tense, and word usage. This list is not exhaustive.
  2. Developmental Editing. This also is commonly referred to as structure editing. Developmental editing usually occurs at the onset of a writing project. This heavily focuses on plot and direction an idea to help shape it into an organized story.
  3. Fact-Checking: This is exactly what it sounds like. This type of editing may be covered in other types of edits, but sometimes, it is good to do this as a separate edit. When a writer focuses on one aspect, he/she is likely to find more errors or items that need to be corrected. Quick aside: I once was working on two manuscripts at the same time. In the process, I accidentally mixed up a character’s age. It seemed to be a small thing, only the error caused another aspect of the story to be factually inaccurate. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have caught this error, but I’m sure readers would have. It was a significant goof on my part. Luckily, my fact-checker caught this.
  4. Formatting: Again, this is self-explanatory. A formatting edit focuses on the manuscript looking the way it should. This edit is especially important when a manuscript has been edited by multiple people. It is easy for a tab to be hit or button click that causes a formation error. A tip I use to assist with formatting issues since I write in MS Word is that I turn on formatting symbols. At first, I found this feature to be annoying. But as I advanced in my writing, I’ve come to appreciate that it helps me quickly see extra spaces, inadvertent page breaks, and other formatting problems. For example, if I’m having difficulty with a section, I may put it in red or bold. When I get ready to turn it off, I may not select everything. Then, when it prints or I add something, it’s the wrong color or font.
  5. Line Editing: This is very detailed work that examines a story’s content and flow in-depth the content. This carefully scrutinizes characterization, pacing, and the point of view from which the story is told. A line edit is an equivalent to a microcopy edit. If this edit is done properly, it can elevate a story from good to great.
  6. Proofreading: Proofreading is the last edit that is performed typically. This occurs when the manuscript has been finished and is about to be submitted for publication. The purpose of a proofread is to identify any typos, inconsistencies, and/or formatting issues before the novel is printed. Consider this the last call of writing that ensures that every possible mistake is found and corrected.

Now, that the type of edits has been identified, it’s time to look at how to go about self-editing. The best way I know how to do this is to discuss my self-editing process. Editing is one of those things that is very personalized. Each writer will need to determine what works best for him/her.

Keep in mind that I’m a panster. That makes a difference in the order and how I edit. For me, a developmental edit isn’t something that I do initially. I write the first draft. Most times, I write scenes as they come to me which means the first draft usually isn’t in the order it needs to be. So, it’s only until I have the complete first rough, rough draft to I attempt a structure edit.

I do light copy edits as I write. For example, if I complete a chapter, I may read through it and correct typos, grammatical errors, or note errors in pacing or plot. I also write notes about what needs to be added or deleted or something to keep in mind. Something I recently started to do is to write down the characters’ names. I have this habit of changing a character name, and when I get to the end, I may have multiple names for the same character. I also do this for location. By having this list, in the end, I can do a search and replace. It makes life easier.

By this stage, I do another structure edit. This time I’m looking for pacing and if I created new plot holes after shifting around the text. I look at flow and chapter transitions. I check to ensure that I’ve included all key elements that I want to be included and be sure that I have all the necessary story beats. I don’t have to have any of this perfected at this point. I only need it to be workable. At this point, I’m still working in sections, and I’m noting any problem areas that I don’t have an immediate solution. By the end of this, I should have a true first draft.

Here is where I differ from many writers. Now, would be the time for my first read through. If the structure is good, I do a very heavy-handed copy edit. I refer to this as a line-by-line edit. Basically, I look at everything. I clean up as much as I find, whether it be grammatical mistakes, formatting issues, plot holes, character development, or whatever. This is the version that I will use as the foundation. I won’t make major changes to the structure or the characters. If I were a plotter, this would be my outline. All essential elements will be in this draft. I critique every sentence. This perhaps is the most brutal of all of my edits. But I don’t do just one line-by-line read through. I make several passes, evaluating if the changes that I made work. My line-by-lines tend to be in some people’s opinions as “obsessive.” I usually make more than a dozen passes, each pass focusing specifically on a certain aspect. For example, one pass I may be looking closely at the dialogue. Another pass I may be focused on location descriptions. Here is when I stop counting my draft numbers.

After the line-by-line, I do another overall structure edit. This is to ensure that I didn’t accidentally shift or delete something crucial to the overall plot while being nitty-gritty with everything else. I check for inconsistencies and most of all fluff and flow. If I’ve done everything as I should, this is the easiest of my editing, and I am able to quickly move on.

The next step for me is fact-checking and polishing. I refer to my notes and reach out to critique partners to ask questions. For example, I wrote a story that the protagonist was a firefighter. I contacted someone I knew who worked at the fire department to double-check if what I had written sounded authentic. Polishing, as I like to call it, is when I go in with my personal touches. This is when I make the writing sound like me. It’s getting deep into character and breathing life into the words on paper. This is the most fun of the edits.

After the polishing, I do several more line by line. For these, I use a check sheet. There are some errors that I make no matter what I do. I specifically check for those mistakes as well looking to pick up any others. (Search and replace is my friend!)

Finally, I tackle formatting, but I need to be honest. I’m probably very loose on this. I mean, I do clean it up as best as I can, but generally, by this time, I’m sick of looking at my manuscript. I can’t see any errors because my mind is allowing me to see what I want to see whether it is there or not. In short, I’m incapable of seeing my mistakes. I’m more relaxed on this edit, only because I know it will be heading to a professional editor at the publisher.

I’m traditionally published, and my manuscript will go through several professional edits by different editors. Typically, it will have a structure edit, two copies (at minimal), one fact (usually mixed in with the structure), one formatting, and two proofs (one from the editor and the final from me.)

Hopefully, reading my editing process will help other writers discover a writing process that works best for them. Again, editing is very personalized. So many writer friends have told me that my way of editing would never work for them. A plotter friend told me that if I outlined, I wouldn’t need to do so many passes. WHATEVER! I say to him, “Mind your business.”

Let me know in the comment section about your editing process. Was this post helpful?

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How to Develop a Writing Plan

It’s been a while since I did a writing post, and I figure I’m a bit overdue. Actually, I’m probably overdue on a lot of things, and I’ll be doing a bit of catch up here, soon. However, today what I would like to focus on is how to develop a writing plan.

A writing plan is simply an outline or statement about what a writer hopes and expects to accomplish. Consider it a detailed syllabus of what is to happen with one’s writing. It’s probably best to write this down somewhere (electronically, pen and paper, audio, or a combination) just to serve as a reference and a reminder. How long or detailed a writing plan depends on the writer. However, the more detailed the better. The important thing to remember about a writing plan is it is a guideline and not an absolute. It can be altered whenever necessary. It also does not have to always be followed in order or on a specified timeline. There is much flexibility in a writing plan. However, caution should be given that if one strays often and consistently, then the writing plan likely is not going to be very helpful. If one finds himself/herself regularly drifting from the writing plan developed, chances are the plan needs to be revised or restructured to better fit the writer’s needs.

  1. The first step in developing a writing plan is defining what the writer hopes the writer should make a list of all the things one hopes to accomplish and the writer’s definition of success. Will one define success by sales, accomplishment, readership, completion of a manuscript, etc.
  2. The second step is brainstorming. This means making a list of what must be accomplished in order to achieve step number one. Things listed here could be daily writing goals, procuring writing materials (e.g., computer, flash drives, dictionaries, writing guides, etc.). It may also include identifying locations to write or times that one can write. It could include compiling a list of writing competitions or professional writing organizations to join.
  3. Third, set realistic goals. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what is realistic and what isn’t. Therefore, it is best to start small and work from there. A beginning writer may not have hours each day to write. Therefore, he/she may need to settle for writing an hour a day.
  4. Once the first three things are done, the writer should create a way to hold himself/herself accountable for adhering to the writing plan. In the past, I used to publicly post my quarterly writing goals on my blog. To avoid embarrassing myself, I did strive to meet those goals. The reason I stopped writing those posts was that my goal timeline conflicted with my posting timeline. Therefore, my goal updates were always going up late and looking confused. However, it did work well for a while. Currently, I use my critique group to hold me accountable. I tell them what I’m working on and what I expect to accomplish. When I’m slacking, I get phone calls, emails, and texts lighting a fire under my feet to get moving. A friend writes a contract to herself, and in that contract, she makes restrictions on herself for not meeting goals. She also rewards herself for meeting goals.
  5. Next, set a schedule of when you’re going to work on your writing goals. Not having a solid plan is the best way not to fulfill goals. It’s too easy to push things to the side and not work on them without some type of schedule. The schedule does not have to be rigid, but it does have to exist.
  6. In addition to a schedule, one needs to make a note on that schedule of deadlines. Using a calendar is extremely helpful in making a visual of when events need to occur and to avoid being sidetracked by other projects. It is easiest to note deadlines first and then prioritize what needs to happen around those deadlines.
  7. Write down ideas. Many times, a good idea will come at an inopportune time. By the time you’re able to begin writing, the idea or motivation is lost. Having a place to quickly jot down ideas allows one to have something to reference at the time that is more convenient for writing. I use a notebook to write in when I can’t use my laptop or phone. If I’m driving, I use the recording app on my phone. There’s no rule that dictates one can’t utilize multiple ways of tracking ideas and thoughts.
  8. Some writers are able to multitask. However, for many, it is beneficial to focus on one project at a time. Many full-time writers split their day into areas. For example, the first three hours may be spent editing a manuscript that has been completed. Then the next three hours may be dedicated to writing new material. The next three hours may focus on marketing. And the remainder of the writing day may be spent on all the other things associated with writing such as responding to readers, updating social media, cover art, itemizing for taxes, ordering writing supplies, researching, etc.
  9. Do the research. Be sure to include research in the writing plan. Many good stories fall short of being great stories due to a lack of research. Think about books or movies when you come to a section and are thrown by something in the text that isn’t plausible or is known to be incorrect. Details can yank a reader straight from the story. This is not to say that writers do not have artistic freedom or creative license. However, it has to make sense of the story.
  10. Look at what other writers use as their writing plan and modify it to meet your own needs and requirements. There are many videos on YouTube of writers imitating the writing plans of popular/famous writers. For instance, there are videos that use J.K. Rowling’s method of writing. The problem is that this works for J.K. Rowling. It may not work as well for other writers, especially writers whose primary source of income does not come from their writing. But again, writing plans are intended to be flexible and should always be personalized. Therefore, it is possible for a writer to use another writer’s writing plan as a guideline to create one that is personalized.
  11. Update frequently. A writer should be sure to keep writing plans updated. The world is constantly changing. Writers need to adapt. Equally important is writers grow. Their growth may warrant a new writing plan. For example, one of my favorite subgenres to write is sports romance. I have written several around hockey. Over the years, the rules of hockey have been changed by the sports commission to make the game safer for players. Stories that I wrote ten years ago could not be published in today’s market unless they were published as retro stories. There is nothing wrong with writing period pieces as long as they are identified as such. Consider the comic, Superman. In the 1950s, Clark Kent dashing into a phonebooth to don his superhero ensemble is not as plausible in 2020 as most places no longer have public phones due to the invention and commonplace of cellphones. Additionally, the public phones that do remain, many are freestanding and not in a booth.
  12. Writers should research all the elements that need to be included in a writing plan. Writing as a hobby and writing professionally is different. Likewise, writing short stories is not the same as writing novels. The industry standards and guidelines often are different for the various genres and types of writing. Thus, when developing a writing plan, these guidelines should be considered so that all elements are included.
  13. Writing plans do not have to be perfect. Spending too much time on developing a writing plan may be counterproductive. The purpose of a writing plan is to act as a guideline to assist writers in writing. However, if all a writer’s time is devoted to perfecting a writing plan, that writer is not spending time writing.

So, those are my tips for developing a writing plan. I hope they are helpful? Tell me what tips you have in writing your plans? Are there things I missed? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.