How to Write a Book in Five Days

all's fair lust warGuest post by Amber Page, author of All’s Fair in Lust & War

Impossible, you say? Not at all. Insane, yes. But not impossible. I did it…and the manuscript sold (no one was more surprised than me).

Of course, in my case, there were extenuating circumstances. I entered my first chapter in a contest put on by Harlequin and then proceeded to…well, procrastinate. That’s what I do best. After all, there was no way they’d pick mine to go on to the next round!

But they did. And as much as I wanted to write back and say, “Wow, that’s great, butimnotdonesomaybenexttime,” the part of me that had always wanted to be published refused to give up so easily.

And so I wrote a book in five days. And you can too!

First, you’ll need some supplies.

For the writing:

  • A yellow legal pad and pen
  • A computer
  • Scrivener (or other novel-writing software that lets you break things into chapters)

For the surviving:

  • An easily accessible coffee pot
  • Yerba mate (it’s like tea, but helps you focus better)
  • Wine (or the alcoholic beverage of your choice)
  • Red Bull (for when all else fails)
  • Chocolate (duh)
  • Tissues (there will be tears)

Once you’ve got your stuff, it’s time to set up shop. You will become an unbearably growly mess, so if you can isolate yourself in a hotel room or office, that would be best. But if you can’t? Well, my family made it out alive.

Now it’s time to get down to business.

Step One: Ready, Set, Outline!

Get out that yellow legal pad and outline every scene in every chapter. You might think this sounds like a waste of time, but believe you me, you don’t want to hit day three and realize you have no idea how to end the damn thing.

Outline. Every. Scene.

Step Two: Build the Framework

Using Scrivener, or Word, or Google Docs, or the word processing program of your choice, create folders for each chapter.

Then, within each chapter, create sub-folders for each scene. Once you’ve done this, transfer your handwritten notes from each scene into the folder.

Why? Because by day four you’re going to be so tired, you won’t be able to find your notebook. Even if it’s on your lap (says the voice of experience).

Step Three: Write, Writer, Write!

Before beginning, do whatever you have to do to silence the panicky voices in your head insisting what you’re about to do isn’t possible. It is. You can do this.

Some guidelines:

  • Do set a timer to go off at one-hour intervals. It’s important to get up and stretch regularly.
  • Don’t overthink it. It’s incredibly easy to go down rabbit holes looking for the perfect word or expression. Don’t.
  • Don’t edit. It doesn’t matter what the words say at this point. You just need to get them down.
  • Don’t let writer’s block have its way. If you find that a certain scene is refusing to be written, skip it and go on to the next one. You can come back and do it later.
  • Don’t forget to eat. You need to keep your body functioning. Try not to give in to the urge to binge on junk food either. The last thing you need is to descend into a carb coma.
  • Do let the emotions flow. You’ll get mad. You’ll get sad. You’ll be completely convinced that you are the worst writer on the planet and this is all an exercise in futility. It’s okay to feel the feelings. Just don’t let them stop you.
  • Do create target word counts. Figure out how long your manuscript needs to be. Then divide that by five. That number is each day’s target.
  • Do sleep. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours at a time. Your brain needs time to recharge.
  • Do finish. That’s the whole point, right?

Once you’re done, celebrate a little. You achieved the nearly impossible! After all, most people take months to write a book. You did it in five days. Go you.

Then go get some sleep. You’re going to have a lot of editing to do in the morning.

Need some inspiration to get started or finish up? Check out my debut novel from Harlequin Kiss. It’s called All’s Fair in Lust & War and you can learn all about it, including how you can get your hands on it, on my website, amberpagebooks.com.

Blurb:

What happens in Vegas…is even hotter in New York!

After a fling in Vegas that was so wild even she can’t believe it happened, copywriter Becky has finally gotten her mojo back. Time to get back to New York and win that promotion!

But things veer catastrophically off course when her new coworker Mark saunters in…and he’s much too familiar. Even worse, Mark and Becky will be competing for the promotion—and he’s just as good in the boardroom as he was in bed! So what’s a girl to do when Mr. One Night becomes Mr. One-Desk-Away? Stand her ground, of course—if there’s going to be a war, she’s going to make sure she enjoys it!

Buy: All’s Fair in Lust & War

What’s a Good Way to Write?

Hi! I’m Crystal Perkins. My good friend, Tera Lynn Childs and I are taking over the blog today as part of our Sassy and Sexy Romance Tour! Tera is the “Sassy” part of our equation. Her City Chicks books feature behind closed door, or in the case of Trying Texas, behind closed bushes action. I’m bring the “Sexy” with the doors wide open in my The Griffin Brothers series, especially Creating A Love, which I wrote while sick and taking lots of cold medicine. I blame the cold medicine, while Tera said I should’ve dedicated the book to the cold medicine.

We often meet to write together, despite the fact that our writing styles are completely different. We thought it would be interesting for everyone to know what our processes are, because we both know there’s no right or wrong way to write a book.

I’ll let Tera go first:

tryingtexasHow I Write

Having now written eleven books (sixteen if you count the ones that haven’t been published… yet) I can safely say that my writing process both changes with every book and comes down to the same thing in the end: deadlines.

My ideas for books can come from anywhere—news, life, TV, other books—and most often start with a situation. A premise or a world that I’m interested to discover more about, whether it’s a school for the descendants of Greek gods or a TV producer who has been exiled to the Texas outback to film her next show.

After the idea comes my favorite stage. Brainstorming! I love thinking and planning and finding images on Pinterest and searching for character names and looking at Google street views and all of that stuff that amounts to not writing. Some call it pre-writing, and I equal parts think it’s a necessary part of the process and a major procrastination technique. It’s probably both.

Once I kick myself into the actual writing stage… that’s when I start hating the book. Things go wrong. Words don’t flow right. Characters and situations and story arcs go awry. I sit there in the coffee shop—I always write in coffee shops—with my music playing, trying not to cry. This is the part I hate, the actual writing. First drafting. Vomit draft, discovery draft, $#!@ draft… whatever you call it, it sucks.

Usually the only way I get through the first draft is by having a deadline. A real, honest-to-goodness, things-are-riding-on-this deadline. I’m aces with deadlines!

When I get past the draft and I’m on to revisions (whether for myself or for my editor) I almost always have to print out the complete manuscript and edit by hand. It’s a horrible, laborious, environmentally wasteful process that I am trying to change, but for now… whatever gets it done.

By the time I’m done revising, I’m torn between never wanting to see the book again and being impressed that I managed to turn that steaming pile of poo into a story I’m proud of.

What I’m Writing

After sliding in hard on my deadline for Trying Texas (see writing process above) the next project on my list is a paranormal YA novella called When Magic Sleeps, which is about a dark fae prince whose magical realm is on the verge of war and a human girl who might have the power to save them all.

Buy: Trying Texas (City Chicks Book 3)

Now for my process:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]
How I Write

I don’t plot at all. I’m a total pantser. My first book came about after I read a book I couldn’t relate to. I thought about what I’d like to see, and decided on two things I thought would be cool.

One: I wanted a scene where the girl was reading a book while at the pool or beach. Hot boy would pick her up and jump in the water with her, telling her he’d do whatever they guy in her book was doing. Two: I thought of a dress. I can’t tell you more, because it’s a surprise reveal at the end of the book!

That’s pretty much how I write, with just one or two things in mind when I sit down to write. I just start writing and let the characters take me wherever they want. Scenes and other things I never imagined would come out of my mind have ended up on my pages. I genuinely feel like I’m reading the book while I’m writing it, so I’m surprised with what the characters want to do as much as the readers are. Recently, I was up until one in the morning because my characters decided to have a fight, and I had to keep writing.

I’m tempted to just stop and read it sometimes, but Tera keeps me in line! I’m a pretty fast writer, which I credit to being a fast reader. I wrote my first book in a week, and now take about three to four weeks for a first draft. Once my first draft is done, I set it aside for at least a week before I start revising.

My revising process is pretty a little different, too. At least I think it is. On the first go through, I open a new word document, and copy and paste a chapter at a time. I look at only that chapter before moving on to the next. I like seeing a piece at a time. Once that one’s done, I start sending it to my beta readers.

For the next pass, I do a “save as” and call it 3. I read that one straight through, fixing and changing as I go. I usually start getting feedback from the beta readers by the time I’ve looked through it the third time, so I make changes, and then send it off to the copy/line editor. She’ll take a couple of weeks. During that time, I don’t look at it again.

Once I get, and take care of the copy and line edits, I read it through once more before it goes to the formatter. He works his magic, and sends it back to me. I check for formatting issues, but I don’t read the book again. No one can catch everything, even with eight to ten people looking it over, and it would make me crazy to catch mistakes. I like my formatter too much to keep changing things. I figure I’ll go back and read them in a couple of years.

What I’m Writing

The first book in my new series, Corrigan & Co. I like to say it’s Charlie’s Angels with a secret society of women. I read, and love, so many romance with guys who are security, but I grew up on CA, and Nancy Drew. Veronica Mars is my favorite show of all time, and Alias is right up there, too. So I wanted to write about girls going undercover. I want it to be more romance than mystery, but the girls in each of the ten books will definitely solve some type of crime. This series also gives me a chance to write about all different guys in different professions!

Buy: Creating A Love (The Griffin Brothers Book 3)

Thank you to Love Romance Passion for letting us take over! We hope you enjoyed spending time with us today!

I will tell you that we’re rubbing off on each other a little. Tera’s been having all kinds of ideas with no concrete calendar planned out. I have titles, character names, covers, and a schedule for my new series already. We’ll never truly cross over into each other’s writing style, but we definitely influence each other in ways that help us both!

How has having friends who are different than you expanded your views? Or helped you get a job done?

Buy: Trying Texas (City Chicks Book 3), Creating A Love (The Griffin Brothers Book 3)

Where is the Love? How Writers are Forced to Cheat

Glorious-Sunset-front-final[1]I’m Ava Bleu, author of contemporary and edgy inspirational romance, and I just want to know why things have to be so hard for writers?

If you are a lover of romance novels you have probably heard more than one author explain that they still have their day job because it is terribly hard to earn a living income as a romance novelist.  And the fact remains that writers write because they must.  Day job or not, a writer is compelled to write. Alcoholics have their wine.  Food addicts have cake.  Writers have writing.  Okay, some of us also have wine and cake too, but that’s beside the point!

Writers need to live — pay mortgages, put our kids through puppy kindergarten, get our hair done — and these things cost money so we must work second jobs.  Yes, the nine-to-five is the second job despite the fact that it is usually the only job bringing an income.  The nine-to-five is not the job we love; it is the one that makes the job we love possible.

It’s much easier to understand when I put it in my own, personal romance novel terms:  My nine-to-five is the husband I have fallen out of love with but must stay with because of the needs of the children (and by children I mean food, shelter, puppy kindergarten, and those hair appointments).  The writing?  Clearly, Lady Bleu’s scandalous lover.  He’s gorgeous, he’s addictive, he’s a delicious, devilish rake. Sometimes he’s bad but he’s always good, if you know what I mean ;-).

I’m no harlot. I want to love my husband, but he doesn’t have my heart. The best possible solution would be if my scandalous lover could afford to keep me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed. Instead of buying him dinner and sustenance (paper, toner cartridges, time), maybe he could afford to feed me for a change.  Instead of paying to dress him up all pretty with a website and postcards and a fancy new logo, maybe he could afford to get me something nice like an electric stapler or a tank of gas or, I don’t know … a shiny new savings account.  An actual real vacation would look fabulous on me and would go a long way towards keeping my respect.  I mean, you’d think he’d get tired of being a “kept” career and have the dignity to contribute a little more.  Just sayin’…

But who am I kidding?  Despite all he costs me, I would pay anything to keep writing.  The joy it brings is priceless.  So I will bite my tongue and pretend to love my day job for as long as it takes.  And someday – one glorious day – my lover will find his financial legs and we will sail off into the great beyond leaving only a dear John resignation letter to end the nine-to-five commitment I once held so dear.

Yes, it seems cold.  Yes, it’s reckless and scandalous and wicked.  But let’s face it … the heart wants what it wants.

And when it’s all said and done, doesn’t everyone want just a little wicked?

~~

Ava Bleu lives and loves in the Midwest, countering bitter winters with smooth jazz and tasty edibles. She can be found in bookstores and the public library camped next to the cookbooks and/or on the town keeping an eye out for hero-material.

Website: http://www.avableu.com/subscribe/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ava.bleu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvaBleu1

Ava’s latest novel, Glorious Sunset (Blurb):

African King Taka Olufemi has traveled over four hundred years to find the woman who holds the soul of his murdered queen and he’s a little cranky.  With a ruby brooch as his vessel, the former king is forced to grant wishes to ungrateful mortals hoping to one day find, and win, the heart of his lost love.

But it will take more than good looks, superior intelligence and an impressive pedigree to earn the love of Violet Jackson.  The ambitious interior designer doesn’t remember Taka or their history.  Love—with its inevitable heartbreak chaser—has no place in Violet’s immediate life plan.  All the handsome “genie” can do for her is pony up on the three wishes he’s promised and try not to be a pain while he’s at it.

While the arrogant king is praying for his submissive queen and the faithless object of his affection isn’t praying at all, guardian angel, Aniweto, is praying for them both.  With Ani’s help, Taka and Violet’s epic love will be rekindled and this royal couple-behaving-badly will finally earn their happily-ever-after through the grace of the Almighty.

Buy: Glorious Sunset (Urban Books)

The Confidence to be a Writer

1234385_1384765375085203_350729604_nHi, thank you Love Romance Passion for having me. I’m B.D Hawkey, author of Old Sins Long Shadows, which is an historical romance with grit.

However, I would consider myself a reader of romance first and a rather fussy reader too as I have a list of pet peeves of things I dislike. I have always enjoyed writing, I have always had a dream to write a book, but perhaps not the confidence. One day I decided to start writing the sort of book I would like to read (minus my pet peeves, of course).

Old Sins, Long Shadows was published in August, 2013, however it wasn’t until five months later, and after some lovely feedback from complete strangers who had taken the time to write their reviews, did I have the confidence to tell my friends and extended family what I had done. So it just goes to show, although I knew what I would like to read in an historical romance, I was not so confident in what others would think. Thankfully it has all turned out well and I hope that my second book will be out towards the end of this year.

I think our worst critics are ourselves and my only regret is that I did not do it sooner. A dream can be big or small, and there will most probably be a lot of hurdles to get over first, but if you are not in the race, you will never get off the starting block. As John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” That’s exactly what I did on the day when I opened my laptop and started to write my debut novel. I may not have had a saddle in my hands, but I could smell its leather – and it was wonderful.

So what is your dream and what is the first step you need to take to make it happen?

Website http://www.bdhawkey.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/BDHawkey
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7219364.B_D_Hawkey
Twitter https://twitter.com/BDHawkey

Old_Sins_Long_Shadow_CoverBook Blurb:

A Cornish Victorian romance set against the backdrop of the magnificent Bosvenna Estate, with eccentric rural characters and the sweeping hills of the dramatic Bodmin Moor. Janey Carhart’s story is a tale of obsession, jealousy and love. At the age of nine, Janey’s younger sisters die from scarlet fever and her grief stricken mother blames Janey for their deaths. Financial difficulties and a desire to win back her mother’s love, forces Janey to enter service where she quickly rises through the ranks.

Upon her arrival to the elegant Cornish Country Estate, she successfully secures a position of a lady’s maid for the wealthy and powerful Brockenshaw family. An exchange of letters between Lady Brockenshaw and her son ignites Janey’s interest, but Janey’s feelings for this mysterious and charming gentleman soon change her life forever.

Old sins cast long shadows and not only does Janey’s mother’s wrath affect Janey’s life, there are others whose sins risk destroying her, the people she cares about and her capacity to love again. Daniel Kellow, her neighbour, offers his help. A man who has, it is rumoured, killed a man. Who is the real Daniel Kellow and can she trust him? Can he trust her?

Buy: Old Sins Long Shadows

How to Create a World That Will Grab Your Reader

forever and ever amenGuest blog by Liv Rancourt, author of Forever and Ever, Amen

Thanks very much for having me as a guest here at LoveRomancePassion. I love writing paranormal romance, and in this post I wanted to talk a little about how to create a world that will draw your reader in.

Worldbuilding is a tricky thing, especially when you’re writing fantasy or paranormal. Anything that makes the reader think “wait, that wouldn’t happen”, even for a moment, undermines the truth you’re trying to create and pops them out of the story. So how do you keep that from happening?

The key concept in making your world work is CONSISTENCY.

Whether you’re diving into a variation on the ever-popular vampire tale or spinning something entirely new, the rules of your world cannot shift around. If your vampires burst into flames at the touch of the sun, a pair of shades should not protect your hero this one time in order to move the plot forward. Decide what your rules are and stick to them.

This is especially true in the run-up to the final battle. If your heroine pulls a new trick out of her back pocket just in time to defeat the Big Bad, it weakens your ending. The secret is to seed the action ahead of time with enough hints that when she pulls out that trick, the reader thinks, “Of course!” instead of “Cheater!”.

Another way to think about consistency is in terms of your character’s special gifts. Characters who can fly, read minds, or live forever are a lot of fun to work with, as long as their powers have a purpose. As in anything else you put on the page, you need to think in terms of goal, motivation, and conflict. Supernatural powers are cool, but they need to move the plot forward in some way or they’ll end up confusing things.

And a confused reader might not finish your book.

Another recommendation I recently came across suggested writers should stick to one framework or mythology. So, like, if you’ve got vampires and werewolves, you probably don’t want to add fire-breathing dragons to the story. Readers attach certain expectations to character types and you don’t want to stretch your credibility by trying to blend too many different ingredients into the mix. Identify your source mythology and stay consistent within it.

So why did I invite a vampire to a battle between heaven and hell?

More than once, I’ve been asked why I plunked a vampire into the middle of Forever and Ever, Amen, my paranormal romance about angels and demons. The easy answer is, “rules are made to be broken”.

Really though, I did it because that’s what my character Flora needed. She’s fifteen years old and doing her best to cope with an overworked, overstressed mother, a sleazy father who gives her money instead of love , high school classes, dance lessons, friends, and all the other pressures that weigh in on teenage girls. She’s got rebellion down to a science.

Liv #1And what could be more rebellious than dating one of the undead?

Flora and Vincent are minor characters in the book, and their storyline works because I consistently treated Vincent like a vampire and because his presence – and his unique skillset – move the main plot forward. So while I may have broken one of the rules, I paid attention to the others, leaving all the characters – and hopefully the readers – with a happily ever after.

So what do you think? Are there rules of worldbuilding I left out? Have you ever tried to mix vampires with fire-breathing dragons? I’d love to hear from you!

Peace,
Liv

Author Bio: Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).

Buy: Forever and Ever, Amen

Tag line: Sometimes you have to break the rules to do what’s right.