Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's in a name?

I've been pondering names for the last few days, trying to figure out what to call my new characters.  At some point, I should probably break down and buy a baby name book, but for now, I'm enjoying the name generator feature on Scrivener. I've also been reading EVERYTHING around me, looking for potential inspiration--street signs, package labels, news articles--you name it, I've been soaking it in.

I generally like to go with names that are more traditional rather than trendy. I think a traditional-sounding name fits well with the type of stories I write, and my characters seem to respond to them, which is always a good thing.

I also consider how the name 'sounds' to the reader.  I don't want my readers to have any trouble pronouncing my character's names.  I know it always throws me out of the story if I have to stop and sound the name out in my head every time I read it.  I think character names should help the story flow, rather than act as a distraction.

And then there are the names that I can't bring myself to use--those of my family and close friends.  It always rattles me a bit when I encounter a book that uses the name of my brother or my dad for the hero, and I have a hard time enjoying the story because I always picture my family instead of the character.  Just one of my strange quirks, I suppose. :)

What about you?  If you're a writer, how do you name your characters?  As a reader, are there certain names you enjoy and those you hate?  How do character names affect your enjoyment of a book?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Motivation - Start the week with a smile

We ordered a pizza the other night, and just for fun, my Gentleman Friend asked them to draw a kitten on the box.

They actually did.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things - Now what? edition

I'm pleased to report that I turned in Book 3 (tentatively titled DEADLY DECEPTIONS) to my editor this week!  I had a blast writing this story, and I think it's my best one yet.  I can't wait until December when you guys get to read it! :)

Now that I've finished this book, I'm trying to get caught up in all the areas of my life that were put on hold while I was writing.  First on my agenda is creating the final schedule for the Texas Two-Step conference, coming up next month (eek!).

It's gonna take more than just one...
It feels a little strange to not have a project going.  I have several ideas floating around, and my goal for the next couple of weeks is to figure out which story I want to write next, and to start writing up the proposal and outline.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue to edit the 'short' story I completed in January, in the hopes of polishing it into something fit for public consumption.  Oh, and I need to move as well, which will probably take up a significant chunk of time.

What's going on with you this week?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things - Book signing edition and Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm excited to share that on Saturday, I'll be part of the Adventures In Fiction signing in Dallas!  If you're in the area, stop by and say hi to me and dozens of other authors, like Shayla Black, Rachel Caine, Linda Lael Miller, Jill Shalvis, Sharon Sala, and more!  It should be a great time, and I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm also celebrating the fact that I'm almost over this head cold.  I started feeling bad last Saturday, but after several days of congestion, sore throat, and headache, I think I've turned the corner and am now on the mend. You never realize how nice it is to breathe through your nose until it's all plugged up!

Finally, Happy Valentine's Day!  Here's a sweet treat for you to enjoy. Are you doing anything special to celebrate the day? Want to find out how romance writers spend this romantic holiday?  Check out my post on Get Lost In A Story!

What are you celebrating this week?

If you've been reading my blog, you know that Fridays are reserved for a post where I celebrate the little things that have happened during the week.  This is a blog hop hosted by VikLit, and it's one of my favorite blogging things to do.  I encourage you to check out her blog and the full list of participants, because who doesn't love reading about good things?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Photo Friday - Furry cuteness edition

One of my students has a sugar glider as a pet, and he brought her to school today to make new friends.  She's pretty adorable...

She has a little pouch she rides around in, hammock-style.

Who can resist almond butter?
Do you have any pets?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Twitter Chat!

Image credit
Want to talk to some of the fabulous authors who write for the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line? Interested in finding out what books are coming out this year?  Join us on Twitter for a chat!  Here are the details:

HRS Twitter Party
Thursday, February 13th  (TOMORROW!)
1:30-2:30 EST

Hope to 'see' you guys there! :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things and Photo Friday - Snow Day!

Normally, winter in Texas isn't much to write home about.  And I like it that way.  I grew up here, and am a Texas girl through and through.  This white stuff makes me uneasy.

You may recall we had a big ice storm here about a month or so ago (I know my Northern readers are laughing at me and my classification of 'big' ice storm, but when you live in a place that doesn't regularly get winter weather, a few inches of ice is a Big Deal).  I thought we were done with frozen stuff, but I guess not.  Today, we got snow:

My driveway, before I had to
head in to work.

It wasn't a ton of snow--just enough to cover everything in a soft blanket of white.  It's really pretty to see the contrast with some of our red-leafed plants:
My evening classes have been canceled, and I don't have classes on Friday, so I'm going to stay home, drink hot tea, and write!

How was your week?

If you've been reading my blog, you know that Fridays are reserved for a post where I celebrate the little things that have happened during the week.  This is a blog hop hosted by VikLit, and it's one of my favorite blogging things to do.  I encourage you to check out her blog and the full list of participants, because who doesn't love reading about good things?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG - February edition: It's the little things...

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for IWSG! This hop is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, and it's a great way for writers to encourage and support each other--check out the website or Alex's blog for more info!

This month I want to talk about motivation and reward.  I'm on a deadline for book 3, which has provided plenty of motivation, believe me.  But as I worked, I needed to find a way to measure my progress so I would know if I was on track, ahead of schedule (yeah, right!) or falling behind.

Basically, I took the number of words I had left to write, divided them by the number of days until my deadline, and voila!  I had my daily word count.  Simple, right?  I know, I know--you're shaking your head right now, thinking when is she going to get to something good?

I took it one step further.  I made a spreadsheet that calculated the number of words I had to write based on my current day's progress.  If I had an awesome day, word-wise, my minimum number of words for the next day decreased.  If I didn't get far, the number went up.  That was quite helpful when it came to planning my writing and figuring out how I was going to fit things in with the day job.  Before, I was doing this by the seat of my pants--I knew if I had a busy day coming up, I'd have to write more on other days to make up for a loss in productivity.  But having the actual numbers in front of me made it easier to see exactly how my project was coming along in the face of a looming deadline.

Finally, I wrote down my goals.  Every day, I wrote down the targeted word count, followed by my actual word count.  If I hit or exceeded my goal, I got a sticker for that day (thus rewarding my inner 5 year old. Because who doesn't love stickers?!).  Here's a picture of what my January looked like:

Yay for stickers!
There are a few things I hope you notice about this picture.  The first is that I have a lot of stickers.  That's because I used them as motivation.  On days when I was tired, when I couldn't think of the words, when I wanted to do anything but sit in front of the computer--those are the days I motivated myself by looking at the calendar and thinking "I got a sticker yesterday--I want to keep that streak going!"  It's a small thing, but having that tangible reminder was powerful for me.  So I forced myself to write, and you know what?  The words came.  And they weren't all crap.  Yes, there will be edits, but at least now I have something to edit!

The other thing I hope you notice is that there are days when I don't have a sticker.  But look closely: I still have a word count for those days (with one exception--we all have bad days!). Even though I didn't make my goal, I put words down on the page, and it got me a little closer to the end. Every little bit helps.

So, fellow writers, I encourage you to find your own motivation, and to reward yourself when you meet your goals, even if it is just a sticker on a page (I would have used chocolate, but I want to live long enough to write more stories!).  I've told you what works for me, but now I want to hear from you.  If you have a tried and true strategy, please share it in the comments!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Are you ready for April?

I know it's only February, but April will be here sooner than you think.  I just signed up for the A to Z Challenge.  This will be my second year to participate, and I'm looking forward to it!  It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well.

I'm still working on my theme for this year, but I have a few ideas I'm considering.  What about you?  Are you going to participate in the challenge?  If so, what's your theme?