writing

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Let’s start at the very beginning (#MFRWAuthor)

Published March 23, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is “My contest experiences-win, lose, get signed.” The only contests I have ever entered were two by Harlequin: So You Think You Can Write.

The first one was several years ago. The theme was medical romances. I was a huge fan of House, MD, and had begun a story featuring a brilliant and prickly doctor. (How original.) As you have not seen this novel in print, you may surmise that Harlequin did not drop everything and sign me up. I did, however, get some helpful advice. Start in media res.

Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica defines that term

In medias res, (Latin: “in the midst of things”) the practice of beginning an epic or other narrative by plunging into a crucial situation that is part of a related chain of events; the situation is an extension of previous events and will be developed in later action. The narrative then goes directly forward, and exposition of earlier events is supplied by flashbacks.

I had started, as many beginning authors do, with backstory instead of at the moment when my naive but plucky heroine met said doctor. Lesson learned. I redid the opening, but have yet to complete the novel. Maybe someday.

I recently entered a similar contest that called for submission of a first chapter. Harlequin favors exotic locations and careers, so I wrote about the maestro of a fledgling opera company in Salzburg who is accused of harassing a violinist. He is immediately cleared by the company’s new PR director who must then pose as his fiancee to keep other women at bay.

I got positive comments on my pacing and characters, but Harlequin’s editor thought the subject was too touchy in today’s climate.

I’ve decided to write the story anyway, but I’ve relocated it to Florida where I live. I’d love some feedback. Is the topic too sensitive? Would you read this book? Please leave me your comments.

And if you want to find out how my fellow authors fared in contests, go here.

 

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My own personal book club (#MFRWAuthor)

Published February 9, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s blog topic is what five authors dead or alive I’d like to meet.

The first is easy. I’d love hanging out with Janet Evanovich. I have read all of her Plum novels and belly-laughed at every one. Imagine sitting down with her over a glass or three of wine and finding out if Ranger is based on a real person. She lives only a couple hours away from me, so this can easily be arranged if you’re listening, Janet.

My next choice is Eloisa James. What fun it would be to talk about how her university students react to her as both a Shakespearean scholar and a romance author. I was an adjunct professor briefly myself, and I’m sure we’d have lots of stories to share.

That brings me to number three. Shakespeare himself. Am I stretching the rules to include a playwright? If so, I don’t care. How brilliant he was to have written so much that is just as valid today as it was centuries ago. What a wit, and what a student of human nature.

Since I’m rule-bending, for number four I’d pick Stephen Sondheim. I love his music, largely because of his erudite lyrics filled with astonishing rhymes. “What makes him look reptilian is the brilliantine.” C’mon. Who wouldn’t want to have written that line?

Number five? This one is tougher. Do I go with perennial favorites Louisa May Alcott or Charlotte Bronte? The indefatigable Nora? Nah. I think I’ll go with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have probably read and enjoyed all of her books. Her football player heroes are yummy yet down to earth.

I think I’m seeing a pattern here…

Read about which authors others have chosen here.

Parachuting In (#MFRWAuthor)

Published February 2, 2018 by francesothomas

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The topic for this week’s Marketing for Romance Writers blog challenge is what book influenced my life. I thought for a long time about this one. What novel can I say influenced me? Little Women was an early favorite. I always loved Gone With the Wind. What about Jane Eyre?

Then it hit me. I enjoyed the works of fiction, but to say I was influenced the book had to be nonfiction. My choice is What Color Is Your Parachute, the perennial best-seller by Richard Bolles.

I had toiled (and I do not use this term lightly) in the insurance industry for more years than I care to count when I decided I couldn’t stand it any more. A friend of mine suffering the same sort of angst suggested I go to the counselor she was seeing.

Said counselor put me through multiple check lists and exercises including those in Parachute. I am admittedly a self-help book junkie, but I never actually write out the answers to all of those questions the authors pose. This time I did. What emerged was the decision to go to grad school and pursue a degree in educational psychology.

If you are facing a mid-life career crisis as I was, I urge you to get a copy of Parachute. Much wisdom and practical advice reside therein.

More importantly, if you are the parent of a teenager, get them a copy. Don’t make them wander in the desert of an unhappy job when they could find a better path.

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Backup Singers R Us (#MFRWAuthor)

Published January 26, 2018 by francesothomas

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This week’s topic in the Marketing for Romance Writers blog hop is what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.

I actually worked in the insurance industry for far too many years before I became a writer. I most assuredly would not do that again.

For a short time, I worked as the administrator for the local chamber of commerce. That was a little better.

Most recently, I was an adjunct professor at a community college. Pretty good fit.

But this challenge is for authors, so my answer can be fictional, right?

If I weren’t a writer, my dream job is back-up singer. I want to be one of those three women at the back of the stage, oohing and aahing in perfect harmony while performing some variation of the Temptations dance step, preferably attired in sequins.

Failing landing a gig with Michael Bolton or Barry Manilow, I would be OK with being a part of the chorus for the annual PBS Fourth of July concert.

Then I could write about it.

Take a look at what some other authors have to say on this topic:

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How It Began (#MFRWauthor Blog Hop)

Published January 5, 2018 by francesothomas

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I’m embarking on a 52 week blogging challenge put forth by Marketing for Romance Writers.

The topic for Week One is my favorite piece of writing. I have to choose my first attempt as a favorite since it led to a lifetime of putting pen to paper followed by fingers to keyboard.

The first thing I ever remember writing, well actually co-authoring, was a play when I was in the fourth grade. We had been studying about the Spanish colonization of St. Augustine. My friend Lynda and I concocted a script about siblings, a boy and a girl, who voyaged across the ocean to settle in Florida.

Knowing my proclivity for the performing arts, I am convinced in hindsight that we wrote it so we could take the leading roles. With age-appropriate disdain for boys, we convinced only the girls to participate. Since I was taller than Lynda,  I got to play the brother. I know we cast the tallest girl in class as the sea captain. Other details have fled my memory.

The production must have had at least some merit, however, as we put it on not only for the scorned boys in our own class but also for another grade. Fifth, maybe. Upper classmen.

Who would have guessed that decades later I’d be living in Florida? I set my Calusa Town Tales series on a quasi-fictional island off the coast of Southwest Florida.

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.
When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can “HOP” from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

Click here to see what other authors have to share.

Get ready for NANOWRIMO

Published October 24, 2017 by francesothomas

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If you are gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt may be just the tool you need. The book includes lots of fill-in-the blank worksheets to guide your process each and every day. In addition to paperback and e-book versions, it comes in a spiral bound version that should be perfect to write in and keep track of all the details that go into planning and plotting a book.

I particularly like her advice to celebrate your successes along the way. Making a contract with yourself is a good idea too. The book is relatively short but manages to cover a lot of territory.

My understanding is writers are allowed to do prep work on their novels before November starts. But remember, if you don’t make it to 50,000 words in 30 days the world will not come to an end.  Schmidt says you can also  use her book to complete a detailed outline or revise an existing manuscript. Grab this book and get started.

Rewrite Your Life book review

Published May 8, 2017 by francesothomas

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We’ve all heard the dictum “write what you know.” And most if not all writers use incidents from their own lives in their books. Yet how well do we know ourselves on an emotional level? I read an awful lot of “self-help” books but rarely do the suggested exercises. All that introspection is hard work and brings up too many things I don’t want to examine or re-live.


In Rewrite Your Life,
Jessica Lourey bravely exposes her own experiences and relates how she has freed herself by incorporating what she learned about herself. I am trying to deepen my own fiction writing, so I am actually working my way through her prompts.

Along the way, Lourey also gives good info on choosing a genre, concept, characters, plot, and setting.

I highly recommend this book to both authors and those who want to overcome the painful parts of their lives through journaling.