Monday, February 29, 2016

"You Can Do This" #amwriting #indie @LivaQuinn #writing journey

When I was deciding to do this 30 day challenge I was struck by Sarah's words just above the "commit" button, "You Can Do This!"

My exact words when my critique partner and I made the decision to self-publish in 2011. But as a writer /mentor /friend said to me two years later, "You pretty much put it up and walked away." She laughed with me as I acknowledged that she was absolutely right. But it wasn't a lost cause.

Since I created my first website with iWeb back in 2007 with the mantra "Believe" I've never stopped believing I could find some measure of success writing. One of my favorite quotes by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

This is no small thing to keep reminding yourself in the midst of writers block, family pressures, and repelling all the negatives back then for NOT self-publishing. No, I didn't do it right, but I learned a lot about rites of passage, about believing in myself, my strengths (which were greater than I thought), my weaknesses, and my abilities.

So in 2014, when I decided to restart my career, I set a goal of having four books ready by July for the Romance Novel Convention, my overall goal seven books in the contemporary and paranormal romance genres. My mantra for the months leading up to this seemingly impossible task was "I can do this". I whispered it to myself when I doubted it and when I didn't. In the end, I revamped my website, ran my business during the heaviest part of the season, revised, wrote, and published four books by July and was only one book short of my goal by the end of the year.

After that, things changed again. My day jobs became more demanding and stretched from January through August which meant my writing slowed, still, even though they were later coming out, I was able to publish four more books in 2015.  Then my heavy writing months came around again and I took a trip to Scotland. Then my husband broke his arm and I fell behind again. And once again, I've fallen back on that phrase that keeps me going no matter what, no matter how much writing space I have - I. Can. Do. This.

They were important words to remember over the holidays when I was trying to get all my books up on the various platforms and (forgive me, Mr. Goethe) I almost gave up.

That's the thing. The mark of a really big challenge is the feeling that there's no way we'll be able to accomplish it. And the reward is always knowing we did.
One of my favorite worn and patched posters says it best:

This is day #3 of the 30 day blogging challenge. I'm not even going to tell myself I can't complete it. I'll just try to keep writing and plan as many titles for my posts as I can each day along with one pertinent blog. I hope you'll come back.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Character driven #romance from life #MFRWauthor @liviaquinn

I remember sitting at the Salt Lake airport watching a young mother and her child interact while secretly took note of their dialog. What can I say? I've not had the pleasure of having children and when I get around them, I'm fascinated by how they think. I guess I thought they would be babified or something. I'm always shocked by little ones who express such forthright opinions about their surroundings. Did I do that? I seriously doubt it.

When I am building my story - because I'm a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants, literally, from start to finish - the characters come to me and take the lead. It's like I'm a biographer to them. Naturally with this organic style of writing, characters from my own life always show up and inform the story, so to speak.

One such character is Freddie, the unhandy-handyman who was an inevitable addition to Storm Lake. He appears in all the Storm Lake books and is crafted from Mr. Quinn who is unfortunately challenged in that department. There's so much fodder there, but don't tell him. He probably wouldn't recognize himself in the character who falls down chimneys, builds crooked shelves, and inevitably breaks something in the process of repairing it.

As Ridge Romano says in Merry Christmas, Baby "If it can be done backward, inside-out, upside-down Freddie's a natural."

Years ago, Mr. Quinn and I attempted to build a dog house. It just kept getting bigger and bigger until it was too big to even move it from the spot on which it was built. It was more like a guest house, ;)

The DH's ex has also stormed onto the pages in the Destiny books and Hard Days Knight. If you've read those books I'd be curious if you could recognize her. Let me know if you do!

Does life imitate art or vice-versa? What do you think?

See the Storm Lake pages on my website to find out more about my books or to sign up for my newsletter and be entered to win prizes.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Save time. Put your toolbar to work for you. #IARTG @liviaquinn #IRINK #writerstip

Take a look at the two toolbars above. That long slender line of abbreviations above is my Safari bookmark toolbar. Notice how many bookmarks that one has in comparison to the second? 

No matter what you go online for - bill paying, doing your job, checking out your kids' soccer schedule, looking for recipes - making your toolbar work for you is one of those things that will have you smiling every time you use it, if you follow this simple procedure. 

With slight adjustments, this will work for any browser or operating system, and making the effort once (it's easy peasy) will save you SO much time and effort.

The first time you go to a site you visit often, do this:
Click in the address bar so the little icon is displayed to the left of the actual URL as shown below.

  Left click the icon and drag the url down to the toolbar and release it. In Safari it will look like the screenshot below. Then you simply type in your short abbreviation for it. I chose "30d". 
(In Firefox you'll right click on the new bookmark and go to properties to rename. In Chrome you'll right click and choose edit but still easy.)

    Renamed "30d'

If you can't remember what the abbreviation stands for the first time, just hover over it and you'll see the full link. As you can see on the left, I've created a short link for most of my books on Amazon. I use simple easy to remember abbreviations, HDK Hard Days Knight, HFK Her First Knight, SC Storm Crazy, etc. This one trick has saved me soooo much time. When I'm creating blogs or filling in the link to my books all I have to do is right-click the bookmark and either copy it or click edit and copy the link, and then paste it into my form or blog. Before I'd have to leave the page, either go to the Amazon site or open a Spreadsheet with my links on it. This takes all of three seconds, literally.

The same is true of this image. A simple MC bookmark for my MailChimp newsletter address gives me quick access to that URL to add quickly to an email, blog or form.

This is a handy trick for writers but imagine if you had your child's school site, his soccer schedule, your facebook page, Amazon and Walmart all bookmarked, along with your other ten most wanted links and they are all right there in view. You don't have to go to Bookmarks, then scroll through all the bookmarks until you find it.
How might you put this technique to use? If you need to fill forms and return to internet sites on a regular basis, I hope you'll give this a try. And let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

He's a #dragon who loves rock music @LiviaQuinn #Paranormal Eve of Chaos

It's Paranormal Love Wednesday. Check out this excerpt and then look for others here at the Paranormal Love Wednesdays blogspot. 

Available: Itunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, ARe

Excerpt: He called her Victoria.

A fatal flame had scorched the offending abuser down to his one remaining foot. Montana and the woman were safe. Scorch marks marred the floor where the being had stood. Death from above! “Did I do that?” she wondered out loud and looked down her snout at the still oozing tendrils of foggy gray. A deep rumbling, like a hundred Vikings in the great hall enjoying a good joke, came from the direction of the ceiling. She followed the scorch mark up the wall to a view of stars against a black sky. The most beautiful creature she’d ever seen towered over her… and the house, with Luna and Cache as his artistic backdrop. He leaned against what was left of the roof, dragon smugness—a special kind of arrogance singular to dragons—adorning his features. Well, he had a reason to be smug. He’d taken out half the roof and the variant in one fiery exhale, without harming her or the woman on the floor.
“Oooh, you’re good,” she acknowledged, giving him a slight bow. She couldn’t find it in her heart to complain about the remaining butt ugly appendage. His scales were so black he looked like a dragon shaped black hole with his wings, snout and lips edged in brilliant red, the moonlight outlining him like the reflector tape on her ambulance. 
“Lass, you dinnae ken the half o’ it. Tell me. What made ye think ye could take on that hackit faerie by yerself in yer lovely wee fog drakon form?”
At least he had a sense of humor. Hackit meant really ugly. Montana thought about what he’d said. Fog. Hmm. “So that’s why I couldn’t produce the fire...” she said, more to herself. He took her measure intently, his eyes traveling over her lithe ten-foot dragon form. When it reverted to her Valkyrie sized naked warrior body, she thought he smiled. She stood perfectly still, innately comfortable in her nakedness. A small stream of fire sizzled from his nostrils and the irises swirled in his glowing red-rimmed eyes. 
His head disappeared from view and Montana felt a pang of disappointment, but he returned with two tiny scraps of fabric. Well, they looked tiny in his massive jaws. He opened his mouth just enough to allow the material to float down to her and she recognized her lingerie. You never knew where they were going to end up when you shifted. His eyes drifted down lazily that horny forehead wrinkled as he said, “I know your secret, Victoria.” Who would have thought a forty-foot dragon with a head the size of a house could wink, and raise a non-existent brow? “Better cover yourself, Lass. The coppers have arrived.”

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Monday, February 22, 2016

#Writing while bathing, exercising...driving via @LiviaQuinn

The writing process is such a fluid thing in my world. It has to be. I remember when I began writing, the summer of Katrina. I was laid off in the Spring and for the first time in my life found myself with six months of unemployment and time to write. It took a couple months to get over the feelings of rejection and unjust treatment, then I was struck by the freedom of the next few months decided to see if I could bring the stories that had been spinning in my head to life

So, I purchased six composition notebooks, pulled up my lounge chair, got some smooth writing pens and my Storm Lake series was born. Three months later the world turned upside down. Luckily, we were far enough out of the path  of Katrina that we didn't suffer any damage from the storm but statewide, businesses sagged and unemployment soared, not to mention people pouring out of the damaged areas into northern parishes. I had to go to work.

I found a job in DC working for the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance program on a Friday and left the next day, arriving at my aunt's house so I could go to work in Virginia on Monday. I still can't believe how fast it all happened, or how fast I was back in those eighty hour weeks. The writing was nearly forgotten until my time in DC and Atlanta ended six months later. Once again, I found myself on the bayou, lounging and writing. It became apparent that if I was going to get serious about this new endeavor I needed to educate myself about the writing craft.

I joined the RWA around the time I started delivering the mail and as I drove around my route, I listened to workshops from the CDs I purchased. (The RWA has since clamped down on this which I think is a shame since it enabled newbie writers in rural areas where there were no chapters to learn from other authors and experts in our field.)

So while I was driving the route, the characters began to visit. Driving is a very creative activity for me, but since I was working, using both feet and both hands, I learned to record my ideas into my tiny recorder to be transcribed on my days off.

During my days as a sales person earlier in my career I purchased an Autodesk. The thing is indestructible and I've used it for thirty years. But it's really come in handy for my writing. When I'm on long trips or commuting to work I plop my legal pad on it and channel the characters. They love it when I'm driving-- or bathing. So I take advantage of it. Sometimes it's all over the page because naturally, driving has to take priority ;)
Last December I made a commitment to my health. I'd kept telling myself when I make enough I'm going to get a treaddesk but the Surf Desk I purchased in December essentially turned my treadmill into one. The first time I got on it and secured my laptop, I walked twice as far as ever before. Then the treadmill crapped out, but within three days I was back to it. 

Now, that my little seasonal restaurant is about to open, the process has to change again if I'm going to get Take these Broken Wings, Destiny 5 written. It will be a combination of treadmill, morning soaks, and drive time. This should add up to about an hour and a half to write forward on the manuscript. It also means I have to handwrite in multiple notebooks, depending on where I am. So over the weekend, I read in 31,000 words with Mac OS dictation.

As I said, fluid. A writer must adapt to what's happening in her life, unless she's lucky enough to have income in the household that supports a full time writing career. I'm thrilled that I'm writing every day, and though the first half of the year doesn't usually translate into multiple books, at least it's progress.