#ROW80 check-ins, spirituality, sunday summary

Sunday Summary

I’ll keep this one brief. Not much happened this week, just a whole lot of editing.  I finally finished a manuscript critique for someone and sent my comments, so the next few weeks I can dig into my next writing goals: Revising my novella Spellfire’s Kiss and writing a couple more novelette-length fairy-tale retellings.

I’ve been trying to reconnect spiritually, and I had a great full moon ritual this week. And I finally started my Book of Shadows. Here’s a peek:

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Long evening strolls on which I’ve made a few discoveries—a pine branch the perfect size for a wand, and a pristine bird’s feather—have helped fuel my creativity and helped me connect to the divine.

And lastly, this week’s ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals: Edited White Wolf, Red Cloak and sent to critique partners. Edited Spirits of Embers and sent to beta reader. Line edits on The Faerie Key. That one needs to go to the proofreader, but I think I need one more read-through first.

(Oh, and my author website now features a Coming Soon page, where you can learn about upcoming releases and get sneak peeks of covers.)

Reading goals: Read Heinlein’s Rules: Five Simple Business Rules for Writing by Dean Wesley Smith, which I found helpful. I’m currently reading Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne, which started a little slow, but has picked up and has a really fascinating world. (Basically, humans are hunting vampires instead of the other way around.)

Life goals: Some exercise—long walks, playing Frisbee, and partner yoga one evening. No work on painting the house. I had time Saturday, but painting the kitchen is going to be such a chore that I just…didn’t. Sigh.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you reconnect? What are some ways you maintain your creativity outside of your writing practice?

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mash-ups, spirituality, sunday summary, yoga

The Intersection of Yoga and Writing–and this Week’s Mash-Up

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Earlier this year, I rediscovered my yoga practice. For those of you who don’t do yoga, it’s more than a form of exercise; it’s a spiritual practice meant to bring mind, body, and soul into balance.

For most of my life, I’ve celebrated and revered the life of the mind. From the mind all great inventions and creations spring: Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Einstein’s theory of relativity. Gradually, I allowed my spiritual practice to fall away, too consumed with what I was doing. I saw my body merely as a tool, not as something to be honored in its own right.

By forcing us to become aware of our bodies–every muscle, every movement, every breath–yoga reconnects our busy minds, our stressed bodies, our neglected souls. Its art is in its simplicity: The focus on breathing in and out, the holding and releases of poses. Even wiggling the fingers, flexing the toes, following the breath from nose to belly, draws the awareness. We release the worries of our day. The books to be written, tasks to be completed fall away. And in that space, mind, body, and heart become one. By the end of the practice, we stop chiding ourselves for our failings. We accept ourselves as we are. True, that feeling rarely lasts, but it becomes easier to cultivate with each breath, each posture, each intention.

At the beginning of every practice, my instructor asks us to set an intention. In November, our focus has been gratitude. What are we grateful for? In that space, there’s no room to overthink. I’m grateful for my body, my life, my job, my art, the simple blessing of attending yoga class each week and the kind souls who join me there. We can also dedicate our practice to something, if we choose. The options are endless. These are not goals, but intentions–simpler, deeper, powerful.

Such a practice can also be helpful for us, as artists, as writers. Too many blog posts and articles tell us to set goals. We create Excel spreadsheets and track our word counts. Ours is a very goal-driven society, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes, it’s not the quantity of words written. It’s the intent with which we write.

During our yoga class, the sun’s last rays filter in through the high windows. Candles flicker from all corners of the room. Wooden floorboards creak gently beneath our feet as we stretch and move between poses. Quiet music plays in the background. There’s no competition; we’re too focused on our own breath, each person reaching as far into the pose as she can. Like writers before the blank page, it’s just us. No one is watching.

If you were to set an intention each day as you sat before the blank page, what would it be? An intention isn’t a goal, a number, something measured, easily achieved or clearly delivered. It comes from a deeper place.

The next time you sit down to write, how would you answer this question: Why are you writing today? What is your intention?

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness:

Mila Ballentine interviews enchantress of tales Tonya Kappes in this inspiring interview.
Michelle Davidson talks faerie-tale inspiration in this guest blog post at Nicole Zoltack’s blog.
Wisdom and Whimsy: Join the bloggers over at the Fantasy Collective for a celebration of author Anne McCaffrey’s work.
Lisa Lin offers tips to keep the procrastination faeries at bay.
In the midst of NaNo, memoirist Wade Rouse offers authors 10 ways to stay true to themselves in publishing.
Graphic designer, photographer, author. Melinda VanLone does it all, and Diane Capri caught up with her to chat about her upcoming release.

mash-ups, romance, sunday summary, writing updates

Growing as a Writer and a Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Sometimes, when it comes to art, getting stuck is exactly what the doctor ordered. I’ve had some issues with writer’s block this year. It’s not that I can’t write. On the contrary, I can sit in front of a blank page and write. Like most writers, I have no shortage of stories or words to tell them. But I realized that, while I can continue my current process, my current process isn’t working. It won’t get me where I want to go.

Every writers has some aspect of writing that doesn’t come easily. For me, it’s structure. I know how to write a scene, how to write chapter caps that leave readers itching to turn the page. No, right now, my biggest issue is with the flow of events. How do I get my characters from one place to another in a way that feels natural? How do I raise the stakes without writing my characters into a corner? If Character A does this in chapter X, what will happen in chapter Y? I suspect it’s not an uncommon problem, especially among pantsers.

photo from stock.xchng

I’ve realized I need a different approach. Past outlines I’ve written haven’t worked for me. The story comes out flat or the plot gets stuck. Sometimes, the characters don’t want to go into the kitchen; they don’t give a damn that the outline says it’s time to make tea and eat a scone. So how does a pantser like me–who often starts a story with an image, a character, a single scene–create a gripping plot?

Well, I’m still working on this. I don’t really want to spend years working on a single manuscript. I simply have too many stories to tell. Maybe I’m impatient, but I think it’s only practical to want to take our writing to the next level. I’m determined to smooth this issue out in my earlier drafts so my later drafts don’t need sweeping rewrites.

This week, I found a great resource: a “beat sheet” specifically for romance writers. (See the link to Jami Gold’s incredibly helpful post below.) I’ve reached a point where I need to both churn out new manuscripts and revise completed drafts. I can remain on my current pantser path, but I don’t really want to spend a couple years finishing a story, so there’s only one solution: Learn a new way. Which is exactly what I plan on doing. I have too many stories inside me not to.

What about you? Which aspect of writing have you most struggled with? How did you overcome this stumbling block?

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Stone circles and fairy rings: Imbue your life with a hint of magic and beauty with this post from Bealtaine Cottage.
Romancing the book: Jami Gold offers a beat sheet for writing romance.
Balancing the scenes: Kristen Lamb continues her series about structure with a discussion of scene.
Put your best blog forward: August McLaughlin discusses how and when to make changes to your blog.
Tips for NaNoWriMo: Romance author Maya Rodale, guest blogging over at Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen, dishes out a delicious portion of NaNoWriMo inspiration.