Pure Joy

The pure joy of free-flowing creativity is the greatest endorphin rush.

Characters so excited for you to hear them that they are screaming at you.

New worlds unrolling at your feet like a carpet, and the people and places literally sprouting up all around you like CGI magic.

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I am writing storyboards as fast as I can type, the ideas are coping so quickly. Trying to capture these amazing characters, their trials and tribulations.

I am already in love with them. But of course I am! The trick is developing enough talent as a writer to help my readers fall in love with them, too.

Their backstories are coming to life as I learn more about them. As I hear their stories and their struggles.

Honor and love. Betrayal and vengeance. War, assassination, arranged weddings and secret babies.

I have been seriously blindsided by these characters. They are haunting me all day at work. They are the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning and the last thing I think about in bed at night. The have even invaded my thoughts as I brush my teeth.

I am furiously taking notes, trying to get it all down. With a full time job there is no way I can write their story this fast, and I am still trying to work editing another novel that I wanted to publish this.

But that other story, the one I was going to write this year that I haven’t started yet?

It just got shelved.

Achieving My 2019 Writing Goals

This time of year, a lot of people talk about goals. It’s almost two weeks after the new year, and if my company’s gym is any indication, many have already faced the stark reality of how difficult those goals really are.

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My post here outlined my five resolutions.

To help me achieve the first two goals, I have enlisted the help of Wunderlist and a coffee partner.

No, Wunderlist doesn’t pay me for saying any of this. I use them, and I thought I would share as I had never heard of them until my sister introduced to me to the site.

Wunderlist allows me to create a checklist of goals, and as I reach them, I mark them complete.

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Part of my January list

A little bar slides across the screen, showing me how far along I am to completing my goals.

You know my OCD loves to see that little bar move…

It also allows me to set a due date (as you can see in blue above), and it will send me a reminder a few days before the due date.

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Here is where I am so far in January.

This allows me to break apart all of the tasks I need to do this year into smaller chunks. It’s not write a book. More, write 1,000 works per day, each day, for 30 days. As I achieve the goal, I mark it as done.

I then mapped out everything I need to accomplish in 2019 to publish two new books and write three first drafts, along with the pain of starting to edit 2018 first drafts. I then set up these tasks by month.

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Sample for the first part of the year.

What does the coffee buddy have to do with all of this?

Well, she meets with me once a month to discuss how we are each doing with meeting each of our goals. It’s a little accountability.

No, she isn’t going to yell and scream if I don’t meet my goals, but I do have to look at someone across the table and confess that I didn’t reach them. That something was more important than my writing.

She’s going to understand when the day job that pays my bills trumps my writing, but she’s going to be a whole lot less understanding about binge watching Netflix.

I have been using Wunderlist to track monthly goals for almost two years, but this is the first year I have mapped out all of my goals for the whole year.

 

I mapped out the year this time for three reasons.

  1. To mark the path I need to follow to reach my goals.
  2. To see how close I am to being on track at a glance.
  3. To stop beating myself up when work, family, or life in general interferes with my writing. This schedule lets me work ahead when I have time in preparation for long days at work. It gives me an objective view of how well I am doing year-to-date, rather than just the month. And, it doesn’t let me get too aggressive, then be disappointed later.

We’ll see how it works for me this year. Two published books and three fresh first drafts are aggressive goals, but I have a path to reach them.

 

Anyone else have a method they are using to reach their New Year’s resolutions? What is it? Have you used it before, and if so, did it help you?

Writing Process: I Figured It Out

After taking a hard if biased look at my current WIP, I figured out what’s been causing the writer’s block.

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But less cute.

You don’t see the antagonist.

At the 45k word point, you still haven’t met him.

I have read a great deal of writing help on making sure you develop your villain. Make them a hero in their own story.

While I know a great deal about the antagonist, everything he has been doing is behind the curtain. It’s something the characters must respond to, but the reader doesn’t see him.

This is partially on purpose as the antagonist doesn’t want you to know it’s him. He wants to stay hidden. He wants you to think it’s someone else, and he’s done a decent job of setting up that person.

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More he loves power. But not too far off.

However, at this point in the story, I really need him to take a more active role. His plans are hanging in the balance. He wouldn’t allow them to fall apart because of inaction.

But, I haven’t shown him yet. It’s hard to do a big reveal when the reader doesn’t know him or anything about him.

At the same time, as a romance story is traditionally only told through the eyes of the hero or heroine, I can’t just jump into his head and show my audience what’s happening.

I need to go back and rework the story. Find a way to show who he is without revealing him.

That means a pretty significant rewrite on a piece of work that isn’t complete.

I try really hard not to do this, but I truly see no way forward. He must step up now and take action.

I suppose I could try the random reveal and then work him back into the story later.

I will ponder both options and see which way has the characters talking to me again.

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Writing Process: World Building

There is more to history than Medieval Europe and Vikings.

Based on much of the fiction out there, this sounds bizarre, but it’s true.

For me, I chose to base much of my current romance novels in a world somewhat like ancient Rome. I mean, there will be dragons, but there’s still a civilization that supports them.

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Magic mirrors technology, and vice versa, but I needed to create a base grounded in reality before adding magic.

And no, I’m not talking about the Rome Hollywood feeds us. I’ve decided almost nothing that we see on a screen, small or large, is real. It’s better to accept that. Really.

Rather than bore you with all of the things I learned about horticulture, infrastructure, and aquaducts, here are a couple of more interesting things about Rome:

 

They Were Wealthy Enough to Avoid Expensive Sporting Events

Gladiators really existed. Sure, Hollywood told you that, but they didn’t really fight to the death. These were highly skilled combatants who were valued for their ability to entertain, and they were paid very well to do it. Much like our modern sports stars.

Yes, there were the occasional fights to the death, but these were usually prisoners sentenced to die.

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Not about to kill this cash cow.

What Hollywood didn’t tell you was that Romans really, really liked chariot races. Kinda like the ancient version of NASCAR. The Colosseum that hosted gladiators could hold 50,000 people. Yeah, 50,000. The Circus Maximus where the chariot races were held? That contained space for 250,000. One of the greatest chariot racers in all of Rome was Gaius Appuleius Diocles, and he amassed a fortune worth $15 billion.

 

Massive, Long-Lived Empire

Rome was a true empire. It spanned from Spain and Portugal, across northern Africa, and up to modern day Scotland. It also included parts of Germany, southern Europe, over to the boarders of Iran and Iraq. There is some evidence it expanded farther, and included the parts of the Arabian peninsula and delved further into Asia.

A large, expansive empire that managed to last almost a thousand years. The Republic lasted just over 500 years when the Senate granted Octavian the title Augustus. This began the Imperial age, which depending on who you ask, lasted approximately another 500 years.

Basically, their empire spanned across any area where they could grow one of their two cash crops: grapes or olives.

 

Technological Marvels

Rome was a massive empire, and that required them to develop technology to support it. There are concrete dams the Romans built in Spain still standing two-thousand years after they were built.

Yeah. Two thousand years of withstanding water, but the civil engineers in my state can’t get the freeway I drive to work on to last more than twenty-years.

These vast distances also required a way to communicate to keep the empire together. The Romans became famous for their roads. Wherever Rome went, the road system followed. These roads were paved, lightly arched so water drained off of them, and were flanked by footpaths, horse trails, and drainage ditches. The roads were built along accurately surveyed courses, and some were cut through hills, or constructed over rivers and ravines on bridgework. Sections over marshy ground would be supported on rafted or piled foundations.

As you can tell, they didn’t mess around.

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Not messing around is why some Roman roads, like this one, are still is use some 2,000 years later

 

The Romans took their roads seriously. Very seriously. They were very well built, and many were still used as main thoroughfares until they were paved over for modern cars. These roads had to be spectacular. It’s how the Romans transported troops. Supplies. And supported a state-funded courier system, allowing messages to make it across great distances.

 

As history so often does, it reminds us that people have been smart for a really long time. And it reminds us again that the feudal system is not all of European history.

How about you? Ever discover some interesting bit of history that changed your perception of the past? Or perhaps showed you how “creative” Hollywood can be with history? Maybe something interesting that you think I especially cool?