The Sweet Somethings Series Soundtrack

Music has played an important role in my life since I was a child. Chorus, band, marching band, high school and college musicals, and an eclectic collection of albums ranging from Mozart to LInkin Park to, at one point, Live.

Like, the early 1990s Live that was more hard rock than mainstream. Throwing Copper.

I digress.

Often when we think of soundtracks, we think of movies and TV. And for me, a good soundtrack and make or break a movie.

So it should come as no surprise that my novels have soundtracks, too.

As a writer, I listen to music all the time. When I’m plotting, writing, editing, and so on. Songs can take on a variety of meanings, depending on what you’re working on. I tend to listen mostly to popular music, what you’d hear on the radio, when I’m working on a contemporary romance. When I’m playing around with a historical project, I veer more toward instrumental music, often movie scores, with a few other select items with vocal tracks thrown in.

At the beginning of March, I was fortunate enough to attend a CRW workshop with author Cecy Robson. She talked about visualization, character development, and how you can use music for inspiration and to set the tone of your writing.

I was internally clapping as she spoke and shared some of her strategies, because I have long had a “soundtrack” for my Sweet Somethings series.

Each of the four novels (remember that HE TAKES THE CAKE will be coming out in a few short months – stay tuned for more details) has very different main characters, though all share certain common themes. Self-discovery alongside the discovery of true love. So some of the songs that go with Sweet Somethings are specific to a novel, while others are more general and could go with any of them.

If you’d like to check out the full playlist that makes up my Sweet Somethings Soundtrack, you can find it here.

Inspiration for Better Than Chocolate

Inspiration for When in Rome

Inspiration for The One I’m With


Inspiration for He Takes the Cake

Better Than Chocolate, When In Rome, and The One I’m With are all available for Kindle, and He takes the Cake will be coming in June. Better Than Chocolate and When In Rome are also available in print.

How a Pantser Became a Plotter

Every now and then, you come across an article or some other resource that talks about how to begin writing a story. Some people swear by outlines or long synopses, while others believe you should just start writing and see what happens.

The first sort are known as Plotters. The second sort are known as Pantsers.

Up until about two or three years ago, when I decided that I was going to “get serious” about this writing thing, I was a bonafide Pantser. I would sit down at the computer (or in the early years, with the spiral-bound notebook and mechanical pencil) start at the beginning, and write until I reached the end. Occasionally I would jump ahead and write out a scene that came later in the narrative. (I may or may not have spent a fair amount of time doing this during my Intro to Computer Science class in college.)

This method worked well for a while. After all, when I started rewriting the “magnum opus” in 2005, I pantsed my way through about 3/4 of the manuscript, typing along in Microsoft Word. Then one day, I realized I was spending more time thinking about what was going to happen than actually writing it. So I decided it was time to try outlining the remaining major plot points.

The hour and a half I spent to make this outline was well worth the effort (and also killed some time while I waited for the hubs to pick me up from one of my teacher certification tests). Outline in hand, I completed the first draft of the “magnum opus” within a few weeks.

Shortly after this, I downloaded WriteWayPro, a writing software program that allowed me to organize my manuscripts by chapter and scene. (Happily, it sorted the “magnum opus” automatically when I imported it). I’ve since moved on to using Scrivener, which works the same way. But the moral of the story is that I learned that plotting was not the enemy and could, in fact, help me stay on track.

I still pants to a certain degree when starting a new story. Sometimes this is due to having a little Plot Bunny nibbling at my ankle. Other times it’s because I don’t know whether or not I want to pursue a story idea. But I’ve learned that by taking the time to either outline or write an extended synopsis, I save a lot of work for myself on the drafting end of things.

Every writer needs to find a method that works for them, and for many, pantsing will always be the way to go.

As for me, I know I’ve been converted. Now that I have a contract for a series, I have to plot the next three books, or I’ll never get them done. It’s all about time management at this stage in the game.

My Writing Process, Step-By-Step

If you have never seen Nathan Bradford’s explanation of the publishing process in GIF form, you should definitely check it out. Funny and accurate.  It sort of inspired today’s post, in part. Or at least in format.

A few days ago, somebody over in the Scribophile forums posed a question about what different members’ writing processes looked like. And there are a lot of ways you can approach writing. Some people are plotters, some are pantsers. I happen to be a combination of the two. But to make my process clear, let me go through it with you step by step, with handy images to illustrate each point.

~~~~~~~

Step 1 – Get struck by brilliant idea somewhere that is not conducive to writing, such as while driving the car or when taking a shower.

Writing While Driving?

Probably not the smartest way to multi-task.

Step 2 – Pants the pants off the first several scenes and/or chapters until hitting a point where I know where I want the story to end, but have no idea how to get there.

It's often 90% adrenaline, 7% caffeine, and 3% brilliant idea.

It’s often 90% adrenaline, 7% caffeine, and 3% brilliant idea.

Step 3 – Eat some chocolate, watch stupid YouTube videos, create character profiles, which includes scouring the web for photos of actors who could play the parts and/or create images on Morph Thing.

Eating chocolate

Is there something on my face?

Step 4 – Plot a general outline.

ouline

And you thought you were close to reducing your carbon footprint.

Step 5 – Work through the outline, adjusting and adding scenes as necessary.

Watson types slow, doesn't he?

It’s not a quick process.

Step 6 – Finish a draft, rejoice, eat more chocolate.

Chocolate Cake

If it’s celebratory, it has no fat or calories, right?

Step 7 – Let the draft sit for at least three weeks. Do lots of workouts to counteract the chocolate.

Chandler works out

Eh, that’s sufficient.

Step 8 – Read through from beginning to end, out loud and possibly using accents, marking places that need editing and revision.

Editing, track changes, etc.

Just make sure nobody’s home if you decide to use voices and accents.

Step 9 – Slog through edits and revisions

Writer's Block?

Trying to meld your mind with the computer’s hard drive is, unfortunately, very ineffective.

Step 10 – Post to online critique site(s) or otherwise present to critique groups/partners.

Don't criticize

Remember to be nice and accept all feedback with an open mind.

Step 11 – Revise and edit some more. Eat chocolate.

Never too much chocolate

Why are you looking at me funny?

Step 12 – Develop pitch and synopsis.

Writer Cat is frustrated

I hate writing queries and synopses.

Step 13 – Eat chocolate.

Chocolate lifeline

At this point, the chocolate is all about staying sane.

Step 14 – Repeat.

 

(Images found through Google Image Search.)

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo (vlog)

Did you survive NaNoWriMo?  Learn anything while you were at it?

Insomnia

It’s 1:06 am, Eastern standard time.  I wish I was sleeping.  But I’m not.  Probably because I slept for ten and a half hours last night.

I totally deserved it. I’ve spent the last four days preparing cookies and pies for a friend’s wedding, plus had to work two six-hour days doing professional development (looking at student test scores from last school year, analyzing gaps, getting a feel for my incoming class, and discussing the NYS Core Curriculum and upcoming student learning objectives training).

I have been making some small headway on my writing, though.  I’ve managed to do some revisions and editing on part one of the “magnum opus” and have a query letter I finally think I’m almost comfortable enough to send out.  Plus I’ve been puttering away on my chick lit novella, and have outlined a couple short story ideas.

Two weeks until school starts.  I can’t believe how fast the summer went by.