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Why Starting a New Story is Hard for Me

Why Starting A Story Is Hard For Me Jillkemerer.com/blog

Three hours. I spent three hours writing 1066 words (but who’s counting?) on Monday last week. After I quit for the day, I was so frustrated I went off my health plan and snacked on my emergency M&Ms.

I’d barely gotten into my new story, and it already felt impossible.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love writing a new book. It’s exciting to form the story I’ve been mulling in my head. I get to know the characters. They surprise me every time! And the setting begins to breathe. Each scene builds on the next, and it gets easier each time I sit to write.

But…the first pages. First 50 pages? (100? The entire thing…? Haha!) They are HARD for me!

Here are some reasons why:

  • My first draft is where I research the setting details. While I know the main stuff–the town, the season, the exact spot where the particular scene takes place–I don’t always know the terrain or what the characters would see. Details matters to me, so when I’m unsure about something, I turn to the internet.
  • I don’t know the characters all that well when I begin the book. The things they say, the emotions they’re feeling, and little things like what they’re wearing all come to me as I type. Sometimes I have to stare in space and contemplate it all before I can move forward.
  • Chapter 1, especially, puts pressure on me. I have a LOT of things to get across in these pages, and I try to find a way to make them all come together organically. I rarely succeed on the first try. And often I have a nagging feeling until it’s smoothed out.
  • While I always have a strong synopsis written before I begin a story, the page by page points aren’t always obvious to me. Sometimes deciding how to start a scene is the easiest thing in the world, and other times it’s torture.

The bottom line is that the choices I make in the opening pages affect the rest of the story. One wrong turn, and I’m rewriting for hours. Who has time for that? I’d rather spend time figuring out the best course right away than have to fix it all later.

My goal is always to grab the reader from page one and to not let them go.

When was the last time a book grabbed you from page one and didn’t let go? I’m always on the hunt for book recommendations, so please share in the comments!

By the way, in one week my Christmas novella will be in stores! It’s part of a 2-in-1 bundle titled Western Christmas Wishes with Brenda Minton! More info and purchase links can be found by clicking on Western Christmas Wishes. Have a fabulous day!

Eighteen Years Ago…

#neverforget911

I didn’t intend to end my summer blogging hiatus on 9/11, but I did. Sometimes it feels like forever ago, but my memories are still as fresh as if it happened last week.

My heart is always heavy when I remember. But it’s important to honor the victims, the heroes, and everyone affected. I will never forget.

My son wasn’t quite three days old when the World Trade Center was attacked. Every year I think of the children his age who lost parents. Soon, they will all be adults. I pray God will comfort each one of them today.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may comfort those in any trouble with the comfort which we ourselves receive from God.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum website is an excellent resource for learning how the events unfolded eighteen years ago.

May we never forget. And may God bless you this week.

*Next week, I’ll be back to my normal blog schedule. Monthly goals will resume the first week of October.*

May 2019 Goals!

April was a doozy! Wow, it was busy. And cold. And rainy. But who cares? Because May is here and I really hope it brings much warmer weather!

I have a lot of goals this month. Do you have anything you’d like to finish before summer unofficially arrives?

Let’s get to it. Here are last month’s goals.

Jill’s April 2019 Goals

  • Finish writing, revising and polishing the proposal for book 2 in the Love Inspired cowboy series.
  • Promote His Wyoming Baby Blessing, releasing April 16!
  • Prep for speaking engagement: I’m giving an Exquisite Planning workshop to Central Ohio Fiction Writers!
  • Health: Meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week.

How did I do?

  • Finish writing, revising and polishing the proposal for book 2 in the Love Inspired cowboy series. CHECK. Yes, indeedy, this got done!
  • Promote His Wyoming Baby Blessing, releasing April 16! CHECK. Love seeing my books out in the world!
  • Prep for speaking engagement: I’m giving an Exquisite Planning workshop to Central Ohio Fiction Writers! CHECK. Delightful meeting other writers.
  • Health: Meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week. NO CHECK. In fact, I gained five pounds, so there’s that. 🙁

Jill’s May 2019 Goals

  • Final edits of Her Cowboy Till Christmas, Book 1 in Wyoming Sweethearts series.
  • Draft rest of manuscript of Book 2 in Wyoming Sweethearts series.
  • Continue plotting another book.
  • Health: Meet fiber and calorie goals, exercise 5 days/week.

How did you do?

I spent a few hours by the river plotting and planning yesterday. And I buckled down and committed to my health plan again. Sometimes we just need to tell ourselves we’re doing it. No excuses. I hope you have a wonderful month and get a lot done!

In Stores Now:

His Wyoming Baby Blessing Jill Kemerer

She’s pregnant on his doorstep…

Saddle up for this Wyoming Cowboys novel

When his childhood friend Kit McAllistor shows up, widowed and pregnant, rancher Wade Croft offers her a place to stay…but he can’t offer her his heart. As old feelings begin to surface, past tragedies force Wade to ignore them. But on the brink of losing his ranch, will he also risk losing the woman he’s beginning to love…or can he cowboy up in time?

For Purchase Links Click HERE!

Have a delightful day!

Encouragement from the Blogosphere

Encouragement From The Blogosphere, Jill Kemerer Blog

My brain is covered in a thick fog as I do the final polish of my manuscript. I apologize to everyone in my life. I’m scattered and self-absorbed. I will be myself again soon–I promise!

Writers, you know what I’m talking about. It’s very difficult to turn off the world we’ve spent months building. As my deadline looms, I worry I’ve missed key themes the book needs. Little things ping me.

Did I overstate his conflict? Is hers clear? What word/phrase did I overuse but have no clue I did?

Anyway, I scrolled through blogs on Feedly this evening, and my breathing slowed. My heart stopped racing. My brain relaxed.

I was encouraged.

Encouragement from the Blogosphere, Jill Kemerer blog
  1. “A Letter for D” by Wendy Paine Miller. I love this beautiful post. Wendy and I have been friends for years. She’s an amazing person, a brilliant writer, and her words always ring true.
  2. “The Importance of Alone Time” by Mary Manners via Seriously Write. Mary acknowledges the time-consuming aspects of the writing life that aren’t actual writing, and she makes no apologies for shutting the office door and getting things done. Love that attitude!
  3. “My Book is Being Made into a Movie!” by Belle Calhoune via Love Inspired: A Story for Every Reader. Have you read Belle’s Love Inspired novels? They are brimming with romantic optimism! One of her books, An Alaskan Christmas, is being made into a movie! Congratulations, Belle!
  4. “It’s Monday. What are You Reading?” by Cheryl C. Malandrinos via The Book Connection. Recommendations? Lists? Covers? YES! I’m always encouraged when I see what other people are reading.

Blogs make me feel connected in a way social media sites don’t. I think it’s a combination of focusing on one thing at a time and knowing the title of the post before I read it–I know what I’m getting.

As soon as this book is turned in, I’m treating myself to a long library visit where I’ll check out a towering stack of books. Oh yes…I’m ready!

What has encouraged you this week?

***

RESORT TO ROMANCE WEEK 2!

A Messed-Up Match by Jessica R. Patch released yesterday! It’s the second installment of the Resort to Romance Series. It will be only $0.99 until next Monday–then the price goes up!

You can pre-order weeks 3-10 of the series for $0.99 each–click RESORT TO ROMANCE SERIES for all the links!

If you missed the first release, my novella, A Meddled Match, is $2.99!

Have you entered our mega-giveaway? Go to my HOMEPAGE and scroll down for the entry options!

Enjoy your week!

What are Your February 2019 goals?

What Are Your February Goals? Jill Kemerer Blog

Well, that went by quick! After last week’s Polar Vortex, I’m thankful February is here. The sooner winter is over, the better!

January was a blur of planning, busy work, and writing a first draft. February, for me, will be all about two things: launching the Resort to Romance series and revising a contracted Love Inspired book. Oh, and roses and chocolates…Valentine’s Day will be here soon!

First, let’s see how I did with last month’s goals.

Jill’s January 2019 Goals

  • Finalize A Meddled Match: Resort to Romance Series to prepare for February launch! This includes setting up promo, sending out ARCs, uploading to Amazon, etc…
  • Replot and draft rest of book one in the new Love Inspired series! It’s now going to be a Christmas book releasing this December. Aaah!
  • I’m the 2019 president of Maumee Valley Romance Authors, Inc. and need to do several administrative tasks to start the year off right.
  • Health: Log calories daily in MyFitnessPal, stay within calorie range, workout for 30 minutes 4+ days/week.

How did I do?

  • A Meddled Match is ready to go! CHECK
  • Book one (working title is Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion) is drafted. It needs A LOT of work! CHECK
  • MVRAI administrative tasks? Yep. These will be ongoing throughout the year, but I’m off to a good start. CHECK
  • Health. *Giggling* Okay, three weeks I stayed on track. Last week? Nope. NO CHECK

Jill’s February 2019 Goals

  • Revise and submit Wyoming Twins Christmas Reunion
  • Promote A Meddled Match
  • Health: Track calories, meet fiber goals, exercise 5 days/week.

How did you do last month? What are your February goals?

Have a terrific day!

2 Ways I Prevent Writer’s Block

2 Ways I Avoid Writer's Block By Jill Kemerer #ww

It’s the final Wednesday of January! Where did this month go? Well, around here it was buried under snow and negative temperatures, but I’ve whined enough on social media sites, so I’ll shut my mouth!

I’ve been writing a first draft, and first drafts are the hardest stage of writing for me. I love plotting–adore plotting! Revising? Challenging, but I enjoy it. Polishing gets me excited because I know the book is THIS close to being finished. But the writing itself…

It would be terribly easy for me to get writer’s block. Every day. I wish I was kidding! For me, getting started is the tricky part. Thankfully, there are a bajillion writing blogs out there, and I’ve experimented with various tips. Here’s what gets me back into my story each day.

2 Ways I Prevent Writer’s Block

  1. At the beginning of each writing session, I read through the previous scene.
  2. At the end of each writing session, I sketch out the next 2-3 scenes.

If I didn’t do these two steps every time I sat down to write, I would stare at the screen for hours.

Reviewing the previous scene jogs my memory and gets me back into the story quickly. And since I have the next 2-3 scenes outlined, all I have to do is review my notes to pick up where I left off.

At the end of the writing session, I’m usually really tired. I’m always tempted to skip my prep work for the next day. But I don’t let myself. I know from experience if I don’t spend 5-10 minutes thinking of the next scenes, I’ll regret it. I’ll end up wasting time and creating more work for myself. No thanks!

How do you prevent writer’s block? What gets you back into your story quickly?

If you’re dealing with the bitter cold like I am, try to stay warm! If you’re in warmer climates, I wish I was there!

Writing Slow and Not Loving It

Writing Slow And Not Loving It. Jill Kemerer

I’m writing a first draft right now. I’m excited about the story. I know the main characters, know the main plot points. Usually, I can estimate a word count goal for the day (depending on what I have going on) and meet it in a set amount of time. Not this time, my friends.

I’m writing slow. I’m talking S-L-O-W.

It’s frustrating.

Yesterday, I didn’t even hit my word count goal, and I worked past six pm. Today, I did hit my word count goal, but it took seven hours to do it.

I want to write faster! What’s going on?

Right now I’m chowing down on a creamy caramel and trying to figure out why I’m struggling to get the words on the page. My thoughts:

  1. It’s January. I live in northern Ohio, and we had a severe winter storm this weekend. Yesterday it was below zero. Today wasn’t much better. I can’t blame everything on the weather, but being cooped up inside with gray skies does affect me.
  2. This is the first book in a new series. I’m still getting to know the secondary characters. I’m creating the town and the feel of the community. Plus, there’s a lot of plot to pack into this story.
  3. I’m in the middle scenes. My mind can’t always keep track of the various plot threads in this phase. I drop things–the faith thread, the romantic tension, the conflicts and goals. And it slows me down because I know I’m not getting it all but I don’t know what I’m dropping. At night, I usually get lightbulb moments–hmm…I forgot to address the emotional fallout from the previous scene. Or this IS a romance, right? Shouldn’t the MCs be getting butterflies?

That’s all I’ve got. Tomorrow I’ll force myself to sit in my office and tap out words until another scene takes shape. Then another. And at some point I will walk away from my laptop–with or without having met my word goal for the day. And I’ll repeat this until the book is finished.

Then I’ll find all the threads I dropped and all the areas I know are flat, and I’ll revise the book to make it shine.

In the meantime, I’ll have another caramel and try not to overthink it.

Writers, what slows your writing down? How do you get through it?

Thank you to everyone who entered The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby (by Jill Lynn) giveaway! The winner is Lori R.! Congratulations, Lori, check your email for further instructions!

Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!!

I’m so excited to be participating in our third annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway. If you love Christian romance novels, this is the giveaway for you! I’m thrilled to join Liz Johnson and ten other fabulous authors of inspirational fiction to give away prizes galore, including eleven books.

Here’s how it works. The prizes accumulate, and you only have to enter once! A winner will be selected each day. Woohoo!!

 

Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Jill Kemerer

 

Today’s winner will receive:

A copy of my latest release, Wyoming Christmas Quadruplets and…


 

Christmas with the Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe plus a jingle bell necklace!!

Here’s how to enter:

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. We draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a $150 Amazon Gift Card OR a 1-Year Audible Gold Subscription (winner’s choice) in addition to all the other great prizes!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Stop by Jessica R. Patch’s blog tomorrow to see what prize is added then!

Thanks so much!

***

My Christmas novella, Sugarplums and Second Chancesis only $0.99 on Kindle! Why not give it a try? It’s a companion to my Lake Endwell romance, Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

Buy it HERE for $0.99! It’s also available for paperback on Amazon.

 

Sugarplums and Second Chances by Jill Kemerer

Are some mistakes beyond redemption?

When former NFL star, Chase McGill, invites Courtney Trudesta, the widow of his former teammate, to spend Christmas with him and his son in Lake Endwell, he simply wants to repay her for the weekly letters she sent while he was in prison.

He didn’t expect to fall for her.

Chase regrets his past and knows it will take more than sugarplums and wishful thinking to heal Courtney’s lonely heart. But with a dose of small-town charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, they might have a second chance at happiness…with each other.

 

Buy it HERE for $0.99! It’s also available for paperback on Amazon.

Jill Kemerer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

4 Tips to Start and End a Scene #WW

Scenes build stories. How you begin and end them can mean the difference between a reader finishing your novel or tossing it aside.

When you’re writing, it’s fine to put down whatever comes to mind so your brain can push through and get the draft on paper. But when you’re revising, it’s wise to analyze each scene’s hook and ending to make sure they’re pulling their weight.

Here are my “rules” for how to start and end a scene.

1. Don’t bore the reader.

Madeline slathered butter on the bagel. Stan had really crossed a line.

Whoop-dee-doo. Does any reader care if Madeline has butter on her bagel or not? I don’t think so. And while the second sentence gets more to the heart of the matter, the first sentence is what counts.

Try this:

She wanted to chuck her bagel at Stan’s head. The nerve of him, treating her like a five-year-old in front of her boss.

2. Give transition details early in the scene.

Readers need to know how long it’s been since the previous scene, whose point of view we’re in, the location, and any other pertinent setting information. Don’t make them guess!

She wanted to chuck her bagel at Stan’s head. The nerve of him, treating her like a five-year-old in front of her boss. Madeline peeked out of the break room but saw no sign of him. Good. After this morning’s humiliating meeting, she hoped he crawled back to corporate headquarters where he belonged.

3. Tease the reader at the end of a scene.

Stan handed her the report. “Verify your numbers with this.”

Stimulating. I, for one, don’t get excited over a hero handing a heroine a report and telling her to verify her numbers. YAWN…

How about:

“Verify your numbers with this.” Stan’s tone was as icy as his blue eyes. She snatched the report out of his hand.

 She’d verify them all right. And if he questioned her expertise again, she was taking the other job offer, even if it meant a cut in pay. No job was worth this.

4. Check scene hooks and endings.

A quick and easy way to make sure these openings and closings are doing their job is to copy/paste the first and last sentence in each scene in a separate file. When you have them pasted one after the other, it’s easy to spot the duds. Try it! I always find a few that need punching up.

What are you tricks to start and end scenes? I’d love to hear them!

Have a great week!

*

Sugarplums and Second Chances by Jill Kemerer

Are some mistakes beyond redemption?

When former NFL star, Chase McGill, invites Courtney Trudesta, the widow of his former teammate, to spend Christmas with him and his son in Lake Endwell, he simply wants to repay her for the weekly letters she sent while he was in prison. He didn’t expect to fall for her.

Chase regrets his past and knows it will take more than sugarplums and wishful thinking to heal Courtney’s lonely heart. But with a dose of small-town charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, they might have a second chance at happiness…with each other.

Sugarplums and Second Chances is only $0.99 on Kindle. Purchase HERE!

 

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