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Goofy First Draft Stuff #WW

Goofy First Draft Stuff #ww Jillkemerer.com/blog

Writing a first draft for me is up and down. It involves wasted minutes (okay, hours) staring at the screen and having no idea what comes next. Then it’s manic typing when something so delicious happens I can’t get it on the page fast enough. Since first drafts are all over the place for me, I thought I’d share some goofy stuff I do to survive them.

Give secondary characters silly temporary names instead of taking the time to come up with a usable one. For instance, a few weeks ago I named a real estate agent Dexter Leatherface. Don’t ask why. I have no reason.

Binge on sugary candy. Right now there’s a box of little Gobstoppers on my desk. I also love hard candies and Bottlecaps. Chocolate is my first love, but I have to watch the calories!

Mangle Silly-Putty when I have no idea what to write next. Years ago my sweet friend and fellow author, Liz Johnson, sent me a care package with a plastic egg of Silly-Putty in it, and I’ve been having fun with it ever since.

Mentally berate myself. How could I have only written 257 words in one hour? Seriously, Jill? What’s your prob?

Blink several times when I’ve written far more than I thought. Can the word count be correct? Did I miscalculate? I’m always amazed when words pour onto the paper.

Sit there. And sit there. And sit some more until I get something on the page!

The big thing I MUST do when writing a first draft? Keep my buns in the chair! If I get up for any “good” reason like laundry, dishes, fixing the hole in my shirt that’s been there for months, organizing my pantry, going to the library to get research books (which aren’t for research in any way, shape or form–they are distractions!!), I might as well throw my goals out the window and light them on fire. The book will NEVER get done.

Now you know my weird habits. I’d love to hear if you do anything goofy while you’re writing a first draft!

How do you get yourself to stick with a project when it doesn’t always go as planned?

Have a terrific day!

Only one more month and REUNITED WITH THE BULL RIDER (Wyoming Cowboys 2) will be in stores! Eeeeekkk!!! 

Reunited with the Bull Rider. Wyoming Cowboys Book 2 by Jill Kemerer. June 2018

Goodbye rodeo, hello hometown. But is this Wyoming Cowboy ready to face his past?

Amy Deerson wanted to mentor a child. Her plan did not include former bull rider Nash Bolton—the little girl’s brother and guardian. It’s been a decade since Nash left town without a word, breaking Amy’s young heart. Now they must put their painful past aside to help fragile, traumatized Ruby. If only getting over their first love were that simple.

Researching Contemporary Settings Without Traveling #WW

Researching Settings Without Traveling, Jillkemerer.com/blog

On Saturday I gave a presentation at the Researching the Romance academic conference (#BGSURomCon18) hosted by the Browne Pop Culture Library at Bowling Green State University, which happens to be the official repository for Romance Writers of America (RWA). It was an amazing conference. I learned so much from professors, university librarians, archivists, grad students and others who traveled from all over the country. And, guys, Beverly Jenkins was the guest of honor. She blessed everyone with her insight, wisdom, graciousness and humor.

Since researching settings can be difficult, I thought I’d share my topic with you. Here it is!

Researching Contemporary Settings Without Traveling

A novel’s setting is important because it shapes the story and influences the characters’ thoughts and actions. Ideally, a writer will be able to visit an area before writing about it, but there are two big reasons why authors don’t always travel to research a setting. Time and money. We don’t always have time to jet off to Paris or drive to Georgia, and traveling can be expensive. But with the right tools, we can be confident we’re getting the setting right for our readers.

I take a three-pronged approach to researching setting–Internet, Print, People.  This method goes from big picture to small details.

 I usually have a general area or town in mind when I’m deciding where to set a new novel. The first thing I do is spend time on the internet and start gathering basic material.

1.Internet

  1. Print out a map of the area.
  2. “See” it through Google Earth/Google Images. Verify the images have been tagged correctly. Some images are clearly not what they say they are.
  3. Gather and print a year’s worth of weather data. It’s important to know typical highs/lows and precipitation.
  4. Find out what economics drive the area. Is it a dying town? Thriving? What are the demographics? What are the typical jobs? How much does it cost to live there?
  5. Read a brief history. Who settled it? What interesting facts emerge?
  6. Browse through travel guides/visitors info. What are the local attractions? These might trigger plot ideas.
  7. Check out homes through Realtor.com. What are the preferred styles? How much do they cost? Can I use this information as an area of conflict for a character?
  8. Search for blogs set there. For instance, when researching my Wyoming Cowboys series, I searched for “Wyoming ranch life” and found several blogs, full of pictures and rich details.
  9. “See” the area by searching YouTube—people GoPro everything!

 

At this point I have a good idea of the setting basics. I’m ready to narrow my research down to get “the flavor” of a place. So I move to print materials.

 

2. Print (Purchase or borrow from library)

  1. Memoirs set in the area (or general vicinity) will give you a more complete picture and plenty of details to make your setting come to life.
  2. Magazines. Regional magazines (Midwest Living, Alaska, Sunset, etc…) will give you fun facts and pictures.
  3. Ask librarian for help. Librarians know where to look beyond the travel section for information on specific places. Ask them!
  4. DVDs–documentaries and travel specials can be fun to watch!

 

Now I’m getting ready to write, but I usually have a list of picky questions I can’t find answers to. Example: How young is too young for a child to start riding a horse in Wyoming? Answer: Many children ride as soon as they can walk! How did I find this out? I asked people who live there (Thanks, Bree!!). How did I find these people? Social media.

 

3. People (Ask questions)

  1. Social Media. Get on Facebook, Twitter or even Google+ (there are communities for just about anything on G+) and ask specific questions “Hey, is anyone from X? I’m writing a book, and I’m wondering about Y.
  2. Put the word out to friends that you’re trying to find information about your setting. Chances are someone you know has a cousin/best friend/uncle’s first wife’s boss who lived there. Find out if they would be willing to answer a few questions. You can set up an interview (email, video, or phone) to pick their brains about the area.

 

Researching in person is ideal, but when finances are strained and you have no time, you CAN accurately reflect a setting if you work hard and DO sweat the details.

What are your secrets for researching a setting without traveling? Please share!

What Are Your April 2018 Goals?

What Are Your April 2018 Goals? Jill Kemerer Blog

On the first Wednesday of each month, I share my monthly goals and encourage you to in the comments.  Sorry I’m a week late this month! Before I list my April 2018 goals, I’m reviewing last month’s progress.

Last Month: Jill’s March 2018 Goals

  1. Start putting promo together for June release.
  2. Expand ideas for new series.
  3. Expand synopsis for next proposal.
  4. Health: Exercise 4-5 days/week and stay in calorie range most days by tracking food via MyFitnessPal.

How did I do?

  1. Yes! Promo is a never-ending task. Check.
  2. Yes, I’m very excited about the books! Check.
  3. Nope, but I wrote three chapters of the book instead. Kind of check.
  4. Yes. I recommitted to consistency, and it worked. I feel better about myself when I’m serious about the small, daily things. Check!

Next month: Jill’s April 2018 Goals

  1. Revise, polish and submit the proposal due later this month.
  2. Prep and speak at Researching the Romance symposium sponsored by BGSU’s Browne Pop Culture Library.
  3. Type background materials for a side project.
  4. Continue preparing for June release by sending advance reader copies to street team.
  5. Draft a short story that’s been running around in my head.
  6. Health: Exercise 4-5 days/week and stay in calorie range most days by tracking food via MyFitnessPal.

***

April is intense. My son plays baseball for the high school team, and I have a lot to accomplish in the next four months. I’m excited to meet my goals. And I’m excited for you to meet YOUR goals, too!

Although it snowed yesterday, the weather is supposed to start warming up soon, and nice weather always gives me a boost! Woohoo!

How did you do last month? What would you like to accomplish this month? I’d love to hear–share in the comments!

Move More; Write More

Move More, Write More. Jillkemerer.com. Blog

For two months I’ve been letting my exercise goals slide. I haven’t given up on them completely, but the 5-6 days a week turned into 2-3 days a week.

I noticed other goals of mine flitting away as well. My side writing goals are not getting met, and you know why? Because when one area of my life is off balance, the whole thing gets tipsy.

I’m convinced consistency is the key to success.

When I move more, I write more.

When I write more, I feel good about myself. When I feel good about myself, I eat healthier.  These successes give me a mental boost to do other things like reading a novel instead of scrolling Facebook.

It’s all connected.

Mind. Body. Spirit.

I always begin my day with coffee, a few chapters of the Bible and prayer. Exercising is scheduled next, before I  tackle my work. This is where I’ve tripped up. Instead of faithfully working out in the morning, I’ve been telling myself I’ll work out in the afternoon. Guess what? I’m tired in the afternoon. And I don’t want to work out, so I don’t.

The good thing, though, is that this cycle can be broken. I am determined to break it. I’ve written my exercise plan into my day planner, AND I scheduled when I will work on my side projects (this week will be one hour per day from Tuesday through Friday). I’ll let you know in my April goal post how I’m doing.

For me, following through with my morning exercise routine leads me to meet or exceed my writing goals for the day. It’s a motivation/mental thing.

If you’re having trouble in one area of your life, it tends to have a ripple effect on other parts. Whatever you’re struggling with goal-wise, work on making it a habit. Your writing output will thank you!

Do you write more when you move more? Or does something else trigger you to write more? I’m curious!

 

Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW

Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW Jillkemerer.com/blog

One thing I love about internal conflict is that a character recognizes she is emotionally protecting herself from something and thinks she knows why, but as the story progresses, she realizes the reason goes deeper. Until she’s willing to be vulnerable and admit the emotional walls she’s erected are stifling her, she won’t be able to emotionally grow.

Does it matter if she grows?

YES! When I’m reading a book, I fall in love with characters. I WANT to see them succeed. I want them to become their best selves and live full lives. If a character ultimately stays the same and shows no growth, I’ll be disappointed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the character starts off with massive flaws that turn everyone off. No one will stick around long enough to read about her growth!

Internal conflict starts with a deep emotional need. This need has been complicated by previous experiences. The character has convinced herself the need will not be met because of the past complications. Throughout the story, this belief is challenged until she chooses to be vulnerable enough to have the ultimate need met.

Here are some questions to dig deeper with internal conflict:

  1. What happened in the character’s past that caused him to erect emotional walls?
  2. What reason does he give himself to emotionally protect himself?
  3. What deeper fear underlies this explanation?
  4. How can the plot further challenge and develop his conflict?
  5. How do other characters force him to question if he needs to continue to protect himself?
  6. What will be the catalyst for him to acknowledge the deep fear keeping him from living his best life?
  7. What decision will the character make to tear down the emotional wall for good?

Let’s take an example. We’ll look at Lauren’s internal conflict in my book, Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

  1. A former social worker, Lauren feels she failed to protect the two boys she’d been assigned.
  2. She can’t forgive herself and doesn’t want to work with troubled kids ever again, lest she repeat her failure.
  3. As a former foster child, she was shuffled to different homes and as a result, grew a false belief that she had to be perfect to be loved.
  4. She is asked, refuses, and is finally convinced to babysit a kid who has been emotionally devastated. Being around Wyatt challenges her beliefs–at times she feels like she’s failing him, other times she knows she’s helping–and it confuses her.
  5. Drew, Wyatt’s guardian, thinks she’s amazing. And as they grow closer, she opens up to him about her regrets. He helps her see herself in a more accurate light, and as she spends time with him, she starts to realize her emotional walls aren’t just because she failed the boys. She unpacks her childhood and sees how she’s equated being perfect with being worthy of love.
  6. Wyatt vanishes. In Lauren’s mind this proves she was right–she should never have worked with a troubled child. And it reinforces her fears that this is the proof that will drive Drew away. He’ll see she’s not perfect. She failed him and Wyatt and is not worthy of their love. She pushes Drew out of her life.
  7. Lauren comes to terms with the fact she’s not perfect, never will be, and doesn’t have to earn anyone’s love.

Internal conflict is rooted in fear. The character doesn’t want to face this fear and often tells herself a half-truth to explain it. But as the plot progresses and her beliefs are directly challenged, she is forced to acknowledge the real fear holding her back. And ultimately, she chooses to be vulnerable, allowing this deep emotional need to be met.

How do you deepen internal conflict? I’d love to hear YOUR best tips!

Have a terrific day!

What Are Your March 2018 Goals?

March 2018 Goals, Jillkemerer.com/blog

March is here! Yay! March is always cold here, but at least we’re on the tail-end of winter. It’s good for one thing–I get a lot of writing tasks accomplished!

 

March 2018 goals, jillkemerer.com/blog

 

On the first Wednesday of each month, I share my monthly goals and encourage you to in the comments. Before I list my March 2018 goals, I’m reviewing last month’s progress.

Last Month: Jill’s February 2018 Goals

  1. Finish drafting my work-in-progress.
  2. Start content edits when the draft is complete.
  3. Side writing project: meet weekly goals.
  4. *Possible* Final edits for my third Wyoming Cowboy book might arrive this month. In that case, I would move #2 (content edits) to March.
  5. Health: Exercise 4-5 days/week for 3o minutes, log calories in MyFitnessPal and stay withing calorie range most days (I don’t mind going over my range one day a week).

How did I do?

  1. Yes! Finished drafting my WIP! Check.
  2. Yes, started content edits. Check.
  3. Met 2 out of 3 goals on side writing project. Kind of check.
  4. Yes, I received and completed final edits for Wyoming Christmas Quadruplets (releasing October 2018!). Check.
  5. No. Just no. I had extra responsibilities this month, and I’m not proud of this, but my health goals were the first to go. NO check.

Next month: Jill’s March 2018 Goals

  1. Start putting promo together for June release.
  2. Expand ideas for new series.
  3. Expand synopsis for next proposal.
  4. Health: Exercise 4-5 days/week and stay in calorie range most days by tracking food via MyFitnessPal.

***

February brought some exciting challenges, and I’m more than ready to take a brief breather and focus on different aspects of writing this month. Oh, and I need to get my momentum going again on my health!

*Party Time!! Join Jessica R. Patch, me, and several other authors on Thursday, March 8, 2018 to celebrate Jessica’s new release, Secret Service Setup, with a Facebook Party!! The party runs from 7-9 pm Central time (that’s 8-10 pm Eastern time!). We’d love to have you join us, and, yes, there will be prizes and giggling!

Click HERE for the party link. Just click the “Going” button and you’ll be all set!

How did you do last month? What would you like to accomplish this month? I’d love to hear–share in the comments!

 

Twitter Advice 2018

Twitter Advice 2018 Jill Kemerer

I used to spend a few hours every day on social media sites, but a while back, I found myself wondering if it was all worth it. I wasn’t engaging with people as much, and I drastically cut back on sharing content. The majority of my time was spent merely scrolling through my feeds.

I wasted a lot of time. The problem wasn’t social media. It was me.

In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to make more of an effort. It felt daunting. Plus, I no longer had a few hours each day to spend on social media. As I’ve mentioned here before, last year I decided to push myself to reach higher annual writing goals, which meant doing the bare minimum on social media.

My default has become putting in a consistent effort on my fave sites–Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter–for a month or two, but inevitably, a deadline or a persnickety manuscript will keep me offline for days at a time.

Twitter, especially, used to be my favorite site to hang out on. Then it got overwhelming trying to keep up with my lists. And when I stopped keeping up with them, I no longer “got” Twitter.

But I want to get it.

I’m working on ways to be more consistent there, which led me back to a few blogs I’d bookmarked. If you’re interested in reviving (or starting) your Twitter engagement, here are the articles I thought you might enjoy. The first two are over a year old, but they’re worth reading.

Twitter Advice 2018

 

 

I used to schedule tweets using Buffer, and it worked well for me. On the days I was too busy to post, Buffer did it for me. Bottom line: I’m going to start doing that again.

One of the reason I enjoy using Buffer is that it kicks me in the pants to read industry blogs and retweet them. I follow a lot of blogs, but rarely read them.  Enter Feedly. By going to Feedly, I can scroll through the titles and quickly read/share the ones I find useful.

As far as apps to use Twitter, I’ve gone back and forth using Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, and I always fall back on Tweetdeck. It’s a personal preference. I recommend finding the app that will make Twitter most engaging for you and sticking with it. Hootsuite does allow you to share one post across multiple platforms. I know Tweetdeck used to allow you to automatically share tweets to your Facebook timeline, but I don’t know if that feature is still available. A quick internet search didn’t provide answers, either.

In my opinion, the key to Twitter is responding to mentions, sharing engaging content, and following back when someone follows you. I realize Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming pay to play sites, but they’re still worth it for me to spend time there now.

My plan:

  1. Schedule tweets in advance using Buffer.
  2. Aim to interact on Twitter for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoons on most weekdays.
  3. Once or twice a month, read through Feedly to find blog posts to share.

That’s it. Pretty simple. 🙂

Do you use Twitter? What do you like about it? What are your best tips?

If you don’t use it, why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Enjoy your day!

Teasing the Reader to Continue Your Book #ww

Teasing The Reader To Continue Your Book Jill Kemerer

Last Thursday was a bad writing day. After lunch, I threw my hands in the air and suppressed a scream. I knew where the story needed to go, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I had several scenes to write before my next “sure” scene. Everything inside me wanted to open a browser and get lost in Pinterest or Facebook or my Twitter feed, but that’s a no-no during my writing time.

I sat there. My eyes glazed over looking at the blinking cursor.

I will NOT have a soggy middle. I’m not going to write something boring just to meet my word count goal.

Soggy middles…I shuddered.

What could I do to tease the reader to continue reading?

Well…

What story questions remained unanswered?

I swiped a piece of scrap paper and jotted down all the story threads I hadn’t wrapped up at that point in the manuscript. There were a LOT of loose ends, but I couldn’t tie them up yet or the end of the book would be ruined.

So I popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and thought for a while.

Real life is messy. We don’t always get neat answers tied up in a bow. Instead we make impressions based on information we gather. Why shouldn’t it be the same for my characters?

I quickly brainstormed ways to provide the characters with answers that weren’t necessarily true. Two scenes jumped in my head to introduce misinformation to one character while conflicting information was presented to the other one.

Not only were the scenes fun to write, they make the book more fun for readers. They know two different answers exist for the same story question, and they can come to their own conclusion. This teases them to keep reading…to find out if they were right.

If you’re slogging through the middle of a story and not sure how to get from one major plot point to another, think about the story questions you’ve introduced.

  • Can you make the characters think they have a problem figured out while giving the reader clues the characters are wrong?
  • If you answer one story question, can you introduce another immediately?
  • If you’re not ready to answer a story question, can you lead the characters to believe they’re close to having the problem solved even if they aren’t?

***

How do you tease readers to continue your book? And how do you combat the dreaded soggy middle? I’d love to hear your strategies!

Happy Valentines Day!!

 

 

What Are Your February 2018 Goals?

What Are Your February 2018 Goals? Jillkemerer.com/blog

On the first Wednesday of each month, I share my monthly goals and encourage you to in the comments. Before I list my February 2018 goals, I’m reviewing last month’s progress.

Last Month: Jill’s January 2018 Goals

  1. Finish revising and polishing third book in Wyoming Cowboys series. Submit as soon as finished.
  2. After manuscript is turned in, dedicate time each weekday on side project.
  3. After manuscript is turned in, continue writing work-in-progress novel.
  4. Continue health plan (exercise for 30 minutes 4-5 days per week, log calories in MyFitnessPal and stay within calorie range).

How did I do?

  1. Yep. Finished book 3 and submitted it. Check!
  2. Yes, I dedicated time each weekday, plus I spent an entire Saturday and a few weeknights on the side project. Check!
  3. While I did continue working on my work-in-progress novel, I came up short on my weekly goals. Kind of check. 🙂
  4. My health plan is going well, but two of the weeks I only exercised three times. I did log my calories and stayed within my calorie range all but 3 days. Close, but no check 🙁

This Month: Jill’s February 2018 Goals

  1. Finish drafting my work-in-progress.
  2. Start content edits when the draft is complete.
  3. Side writing project: meet weekly goals.
  4. *Possible* Final edits for my third Wyoming Cowboy book might arrive this month. In that case, I would move #2 (content edits) to March.
  5. Health: Exercise 4-5 days/week for 3o minutes, log calories in MyFitnessPal and stay withing calorie range most days (I don’t mind going over my range one day a week).

How did you do last month? Want to share your February goals? Leave a comment!

Have a fabulous week!

Using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to Meet Writing Goals

Meet Your Writing Goals Using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

Last weekend I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Writers, Inc. Every January we have our annual goals discussion. The first half of my talk was about basic goal-setting: taking time to think about professional, health, emotional and personal goals for the year and deciding how and when to achieve them.

During the second half I shared how we can use Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to meet our writing goals.

We had a frank discussion, and I was thrilled to learn we had writers ranging in all four tendencies. I was surprised to learn some of the solutions I thought would work for one type clearly wouldn’t. And I loved hearing these writers share what would work for them.

 

Meet Your Writing Goals using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

 

If you’re not familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Four Tendencies, you can read about it HERE. Basically, Ms. Rubin studies human nature (she’s the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Happiness Project), and she divides people into four groups according to how they respond to expectations.

  • Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
  • Questioners meet inner expectations easier than they do outer ones.
  • Obligers meet outer expectations more readily than inner ones.
  • Rebels struggle against both inner and outer expectations.

In other words, Upholders tend to get things done that are important to them personally as well as what others expect them to do.

Questioners tend to get things done that make sense to them. If someone expects them to do something they don’t agree with or see the value in, it won’t get done.

Obligers tend to get things done when someone is depending on them. They find it difficult to meet personal goals.

Rebels want to do things in their way and in their time. Standard advice for meeting goals does not work for this tendency!

 

*If you’re not sure what tendency you fit in, take the QUIZ (linked). It’s short and sweet.*

 

Here’s what I loved about having this discussion with fellow writers.

Upholders are planner geeks, and we (yes, I’m an Upholder!) love time management tools. We can be rigid and too-rule-follow-y, but we get things done and that’s good. Setting daily/weekly/monthly writing goals works for Upholders.

Questioners who struggle to meet their writing goals need to keep asking questions about the goal until an answer clicks in that makes sense to them. For example: I’m going to write for one hour every weekday morning before work. You might then ask, why the morning? and you’d remember your nighttime routine is exhausting. But what if I wrote right after dinner? But you already decided to walk on the treadmill at that time. Face it, my creative energy is gone by 8pm.

At that point, you see the value in dedicating an hour in the morning. But you might have to keep questioning why writing every weekday is important until you get to your gold.

Obligers don’t want to let people down. If you fall into this category, you might put off writing until a hard deadline looms. Sure, you know you need to write or you’ll struggle to finish the book, but you struggle to feel the urgency. In this case, an accountability partner or group can make a difference. If you decide to physically meet someone at the library or a coffee shop to write for two hours, you’re much more likely to actually write at that time then if you marked those hours on your calendar to write at home.

As far as the Rebels out there, I urge you to throw out all the “expert” advice about planning and goal setting and do your own thing. Experiment. Get creative. And keep trying new methods of getting and keeping your butt in the chair until you find what works!

I’d love to hear how you find success in meeting your writing goals! Please leave a comment!

Have a terrific day!

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