Sunday, January 25, 2015

.Doc X

I've put off buying the new Microsoft Word for Mac because I simply couldn't afford it. As a writer, I wanted the software more than anything, but I couldn't pay for groceries, let alone a hundred dollar a year program.

I had to ask critique partners if they would convert their story files to .doc because my computer couldn't read .doc x. For some reason I couldn't download the add-on. It was embarrassing, and frustrating for everyone. But that was only a fraction of my stomach churning fear.

Would agents and editors think I wasn't serious about writing if I submitted stories on such old software? I bit my nails. Would they think I wasn't invested enough, or too outdated? I felt sick. And worse, If I didn't buy the new software, would my unpublished story files become unreadable? I couldn't sleep.

For those of you who don't know the difference, .doc x is the new file type Microsoft developed in 2007. Here are some links to better help explain the difference between the two.

So, this week, I threw caution to the wind. I upgraded my computer and purchased a one year subscription of Microsoft Word. I have new fears, like how I'm going to pay for everything once the credit card bill arrives, but I feel more confident having the new program.

But my questions remain. Were my fears irrational? Should I copy and paste my older manuscripts into the new .doc x format? Will Microsoft change the software soon? And what about the other starving writers and poor college students who can't afford the subscription? Businesses exist to make money, I understand, and yet...I wish .doc x available to all.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding Your Tribe

I am a writer.

I sometimes live in my own world, talking to people that live only in my fertile imagination. I can get lost for hours researching strange facts and obscure locations.  I love to talk about plotting, pacing and promotion. My desk is piled high with writing craft books, baby name books and colored post-it notes with snippets of ideas and word counts.

To my dismay, not everyone in my life shares my passion...which is why it is SO important to find those people who do. Finding your tribe, no matter what your passion is, can be best thing to happen to you. I know it has saved my sanity more times than I could possibly count.

This year marks my 10 year anniversary embracing the writer inside me. Having spent years as a closet writer, creating scenarios and characters in my head, writing out short stories and tossing them away before anyone could see them and judge the crazy going on in my head...I finally got up one day and embraced the "calling."

After admitting to myself I wasn't going to stop writing any time soon and that maybe, just maybe, someone else might want to actually read my thoughts, I sought out some like minded people. I landed at a Long Island Romance Writers meeting and instantly knew I had found my tribe. Well, maybe not instantly...I did hyperventilate in the library bathroom before I actually walked into the meeting!

Around the table were women of all ages, all demographic backgrounds, and on various rungs of the publishing ladder. Fear crept up my spine as I found a seat. I remember sweating even though it was October and the thought of throwing up was a constant companion through the entire meeting. But as the afternoon progressed a sense of calm finally washed over me with the knowledge that I was surrounded by people who "got me."

These ladies understood the voices in my head that I couldn't let go of. They carried pads and pens with them to jot down ideas on the go, just like me. The talked passionately about killing off characters and they weren't afraid to delve into the world of graphic sexual language!

Fear can be a powerful force. Fear has the power to control you if you let it. Ten years ago I faced my fear of walking into a meeting and knowing NO ONE and saying out loud that I wrote romance! (Yikes, that was a tough day!)

Ten years ago I found my tribe on the other side of fear...and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Make this year the year you face a fear...the year you write that story, the year you submit that story, the year you find your tribe to cheer you on or hold your hand and offer chocolate!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Letting The Muse Have Her Way

I'm a planner by nature. I color code. I admit it. I have spreadsheets out the wazoo. Calendars everywhere. You get the idea. But for the past few months, I've been letting the Muse have her way and I think it's brought a freshness and spontaneity back to my writing that's made it better.

I have very detailed plans about what books to write and when to write them. I make plans for my ongoing series and figure out who is getting their books written next. But starting in about September of 2014, all my plans went out the window. A book wanted to get written that I hadn't planned.

Luckily, I went with it. I followed the Muse and wrote the book. It was a fourth book to what I had planned as a trilogy, but it really wanted to be written and I'm glad I let it happen. After that book was done, I tried to go back to my plan. I doggedly tried to get back on track with the project I had planned, but it wasn't meant to be.

Right before Christmas, I started writing another book that was not planned. (Ack!) I'm editing it right now - a new Dragon Knights book that was never in the original plan for the series. You see, I've been slowly working my way through the princes in the royal family. Each of them will have a book by the time I'm done and I figured those would be the next logical steps in the progression toward the big battle scene that will take place with the last prince's book.

But a new set of characters just showed up and wanted their book written. Two stealthy dragons who are different from the rest and a maiden who is much more than she appears. I had to get to the end of the book to figure out why it needed to be written right now. You see, I'm leading up to that big confrontation and she is an important piece of that final puzzle. I need her! I didn't know it, but I definitely see it now.

So the muse hasn't let me down. She's made the books better and the series as a whole, more cohesive. Yay, Muse!

I'm beginning to think that our unconscious mind - the Muse, if you will - knows better sometimes what we should be doing than all our best-laid plans and spreadsheets. Following these whims over the past few months has meant a lot of shuffling of my schedule and rejiggering my spreadsheets, but the books that have come from it were written faster, with way less angst, and are cleaner (typo and continuity-wise) than anything I've written in a long time. I also think they're more interesting and flow a lot more smoothly than some of the books that I've literally forced myself to write.

I know from prior experience that when a book just flows out of me in a short period of time, it's usually a winner. When I have to force myself to write it to stick to some artificially-imposed schedule, it's much harder to accomplish.

So my advice if your Muse wants you to do something you didn't plan for is - go for it! You might be very pleased with the results! :)

Bianca D'Arc
Come over to The D'Arc Side...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells


Ooops! Didn't I just post on Jan 1, that I was going to try and be more organized? And look what happened, I realized today I had forgotten to tell one of the contributors it was her turn to post.  Too late to tell her now.  Geez  Well, you're stuck with me - again.  Hmm let's see what I can rustle up.

Okay.  I recently took out a book called Bohemians, Bootleggers,  Flappers, and Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair, edited by Graydon Carter. Nestled within this book's covers are poems, short stories, and articles by Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence, Darrow, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and many others that were published between 1910 - 1930.  Have I read the whole book? No. Will I?  Ah, no.  I find it hard to relate to some of the meandering words of a few puffed-up writers who feel their thoughts are impressive.  But that's just me.  Being a simple folk, I could be wrong here.

This book helps shed light on the eras of which they are written. Some are interesting and/or informative. I  particularly like New York Women Who Earn $50,000 a Year.  Ann O'Hagan gives the names of women who were actresses, singers, writers, dress makers, millners, and other entrepreneurs who earned $10,000 - $50,000 plus a year.  The article was in response to those who had challenged and ridiculed Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair, when he said "he knew, personally, a dozen women in New York who were earning over $50,000 a year by their own talents or industry".  The amount might not seem like such a big deal today, but in 1915 that was very good.

There is a tidbit in the first paragraph that she states: "Perhaps, some day, he (Commissioner of Internal Revenue) will let the world know to how many of the checks, sent by women in payment of their income tax, was  attached one of those specially printed little blanks, which the suffragist have circulated so widely, reading: I pay this tax under protest, in obedience to a law in the making of which I had no voice".  I happen to love this detail.  I had never heard of it and if ever I write a story set in that time period, I'm going to use it - some how.

I won't bore you with any more of what I think is interesting.  Check out the book, I'm sure you'll find something that will pique your interest.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 IS HERE

Let the festivities begin!

The ladies of the LIRW blog would like to thank all who have visited us throughout the year.
Tranquility, love, accomplishments, endurance, health, and safety are just a few of the things we hope you, and the rest of the world, experience this coming year.  May we have more respect for one another and for the earth we rely on to live.
The Ladies of the LIRW Blog
Now let's get back to the party!

Here are a few things some of our contributors would like to share.

Debora Dennis ~ "This year instead of setting goals and making resolutions that will only stress me out, I've decided to simply work on finding solutions to anything standing in my way of progress and growth. I won't resolve to anything unrealistic, I will only explore every opportunity to solve any problem that comes my way. I wish each and every one of you a year of wonderful moments that turn into great memories, good health and love."  

Donna Coe-Velleman ~ I'm with Debora because I never stick to my resolutions.  I will try and become more organized and less of a hoarder.  If I can accomplish these two objectives, I feel things will go more smoothly and I'll be able to produce more and feel less stress.  Not a bad deal in my mind. Right?  I hope obtain whatever you strive for.

Dawn Berkoski ~ Believe in happily ever afters.  If you work at it long and hard enough, they will come true.   Have a great year!             

Do you have any tidbits of wisdom you'l like to share?  

The members of LIRW have had a very productive year.  The following members have new releases:

Myra Platt
Bianca D'Arc
Candy Caine
Jeannie Moon
Patty Blount
Jennifer Gracen
Marilyn Levinson
Jolyse Barnett
Maggie Van Well
Lillian Marek
Bernadette Walsh
Arla Dahl

Congrats and good luck, ladies. 

If I've gotten any of the previous info wrong or forgotten anyone, I apologize.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

LIRW's 2014 Holiday Party 2014

We all know writing groups help authors in many ways, from support, to information, to critiques, to social media, and to publishing industry exposure.  But one of the best advantages for being in a writing group is the comradery that grows among the individuals, banding them together. Since writing is such an isolated endeavor, it's nice to find others in the same boat as you.

LIRW is no exception to that ideal.  Every year we put aside our pens and keyboards to celebrate the season and each other at Verde (formerly known as Papa Joe's).   We kick back and mingle with other members and some husbands while we enjoy a delicious meal, wine, soda and dessert. It's a nice and relaxing time. Take a look and see.  . .

Maybe you'll be there with us next year!  Hope so.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Taking Care of YOU

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays in full force, and all those treats being dangled before us like a never ending buffet, I know the last thing on our minds is getting healthy. But don't we owe it to ourselves to do just that?

Last month I joined a gym. A huge step for someone like me who has basically been the girl curled on the couch with a book her whole life. I also had a milestone birthday in 2014 and decided it might be time to start preserving what was left of the decent body I have!

So, even though I work 30 hours a week outside the house, plan on writing at least 100,000 words this coming year, have a family, a house, a social life...well, you get the idea...I committed to working out a few days a week at my local LA Fitness. (Because I'm not a big fan of paying for something I'm not using, I need to go to justify that $40 a month price tag!)

A few months back I got myself an ergonomic keyboard, so that as I write those 100,000 words this coming year I will have less stress on my fingers and wrists.

I got a new office chair, so that my back doesn't ache quite so much as my fingers are pounding the keyboard.

At the gym, I take an early Saturday morning Yoga class to add some mental clarity to my week, learning to push out the negative and make room for the positive is important!

I've been making healthier choices at the grocery store and when I'm dining out (Ok...maybe not all the time. LOL)

While I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, making my health (both mental and physical) a priority in a goal I can embrace.

And those of us choosing to be a little healthier this year are not in it alone. Hop on over to twitter and you'll find #healthywriter! Join the conversation with other likeminded writers, share your ups and your downs, be supportive and get support too.

How about you? How are you planning to take care of YOU in 2015?

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