Sizzling Summer Success, Final Cut: Chill Out!

I’m in the mountains and summer has finally hit. Steamy hot days with a thunderstorm or two between daylight and dark make for a sticky, hot mess.

On days like these, you may find it difficult to meet all your goals and accomplish your to-do lists. So what? Will the world come to an end because you didn’t finish the seventeenth load of laundry? Contrary to what your teenage daughter might tell you, the answer would be no.

Get as much done as you can. If you can’t get the rest completed, don’t sweat it. Chill out. Most likely, there’ll be tomorrow.

Here are a few things that may help you get more done and have more time to chill out:

Work during your most productive time. In Florida, I sweat so profusely, I’ll get dehydrated walking from the mall to my car. No fooling. It leaves me tired and irritable. Not the best time to string words together. You should avoid those times when you are less productive as well.

Find the place that works best and go there. For me, it’s the café at Barnes and Noble. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the books. Or the people. Whatever it is, I really work best there. Go to where you can get the most done in the least amount of time.

Recognize that some days you won’t feel up to it. It’s gonna happen. Accept it. Embrace it. Rest on those days. Chill out. Read a book instead of writing one.

Nothing in life ever goes according to plan. A storm will pop up out of nowhere and rain on your parade. Kids can get sick or break their arm falling off their skate board. You deal with it. It’s life.

When all is said and done, be honest about where you are, what you can do, how you should rest and when you must push through. If you’re lazy, kick yourself in the caboose. If you’re overwhelmed, grab a cup of tea and sit on the porch. If you’re exhausted, rest!

That’s how you will be a sizzling summer success. Listen to your inner voice and follow its direction. You’ll enjoy life so much more by giving yourself a break. Do us all a favor and chill out!

 

Stuck in the Quagmire of Editing?

Now that the joy of finishing my first draft has faded, the angst of editing the manuscript has begun. I completed the first draft, the rest should be a piece of cake. Right? Not. Even. Close.

All of a sudden I had a multitude of questions and not enough answers.

First I tried an easy approach. I purchased “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing”.  While it was an interesting read, it didn’t answer all the questions that arose while editing my manuscript.

I also went to Chip MacGregor’s blog. He recently posted a huge list of resources to help writers.  http://www.chipmacgregor.com/blog/career/150-resources-to-help-you-write-better-faster-and-more-persuasively/

Finally, I went to my friends Beth Vogt and Edie Melson for assistance.

They suggested I look at the big picture and keep it simple. We all need simple, right?

They broke it down into three pieces for me; the big picture, fine line editing and believe it or not a craft partner!Big picture editing refers to your actual story.  Have you included the main ingredients: The Dark Moment, Happy Moment, Greatest Fear, the Final Battle, Essential Scenes etc?

Fine line editing refers to the nitty-gritty details, like grammar and punctuation.

Craft Partners.  Once you’ve completed those, it’s time for someone to read it. Before selecting a craft partner establish guidelines.  What guidelines though?.

    • What specifically will a craft partner assist with big picture editing, fine line editing? One or both?
    • How often should you meet?  Should you have one craft partner or more?

On top of that, I had other questions:

  • How do you format the document?
  • Which font should you use?
  • What do you include in the header/footer?

All of my questions couldn’t be answered in one sitting therefore we decided to answer these questions in the next several blogs. Starting in July we will tackle each of the items above.

Do you have questions you want answered?  Send them my way via email at retreats@mybooktherapy.com .  I’ll put the questions to the experts!

Sizzling Summer Success, Part 4: Expect the “Rain on Your Parade”

I love summers in the southeastern United States. Picnics, baseball, sliding down slick rocks in the river. And there are always the parades. Kicking off with Memorial Day, it seems summer is packed with an endless supply of them.

Summer in the south also brings storms. Most any afternoon, you can look to the horizon and see some sort of storm brewing. And, most likely, it’s right in the middle of your parade route.

Just like parades and storms sort of go hand in hand, so do summers and your manuscript. Your best laid plans for hammering out word count can easily wind up a soggy mess. So what is a diligent author to do? Here are just a few things you could do:

1) Buy an umbrella. Ok, maybe not literally but you seriously need some way to keep you out of the storm of your day—a literary umbrella of sorts. It won’t prevent the storm, but it might keep you dry in the midst of it.

2) Expect the rain. You knew it’s going to happen. Plan for it. Just like Floridians arrange their daily activities for before or after the storm, write before the storm hits. That way, it’s just rain.

3) Change your parade route. If the torrential downpours in your day cause a flash flood down your main street, you don’t have to abandon the parade. Just turn a corner and walk a different way. You’ll still get there and, at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

4) Learn to dance in the rain. Your success or failure when it rains on your parade has little to do with the event. Yet, it has everything to do with you and how you react to it. What’s a little detour? Trust me, you’ll feel so much better if you learn to dance in the rain.

It’s officially summer. Enjoy it. Use it to your advantage. Get the out of it and don’t worry about the parade. Yeah, it’s gonna rain on it, but who cares?! It’s summer! Put the hotdogs and burgers on the grill and your Book Buddy in your beach bag.

You really can do both. Trust me. I know. Enjoy them. Love your summer!

Fairytale Code: Happily Ever After

At long last, I’m on the other wide of a rewrite deadline and I can conclude our fairytale code series.

The ending is simple. Happy.

A fairytale like story, a romance, a sisterhood, even a thriller has to end with some level of happiness and satisfaction.

What do we really learn from fairytale endings?

The boy gets the girl.

The dragon is slayed.

The castle is stormed.

Evil is defeated. Good wins.

Even in the most thrill driven stories, these elements must take place for a solid story ending and wrap up.

Cinderella is the classic happy ending. In the Disney version, Cindy and Prince marry because “the shoe fit” and boy, let’s not go down that symbolic rabbit trail, but her dreams came true because she believed.

In Snow White, the Prince’s kiss over comes evil and invokes true love.

In Die Hard, John McCain’s love for his wife “storms the castle,” defeats evil and restores his wife’s hope in him.

In The Proposal, Andrew returns to NY to tell Margaret he wants to marry her so he can “date her.”

He defeats the lie in her heart she will always be alone. His love conquers the evil of fear and love triumphs.

So, why do we need a happy ending? Or a satisfactory ending?

Because a story is about a journey! It’s about the protagonist learning something about herself, life, God, people.

It’s about coming to truth!

Think of your friends who answer all of your advice with, “Yeah but…” Isn’t it frustrating?

No one wants to read a book about a protagonist who is unwilling or unable to change.

We’ve watched those movies where the hero or heroine is the same in the end as they were in the beginning and we’re like, “Huh?”

We spend the rest of the evening discussing with our friends or spouses why the movie didn’t work or what we would’ve done differently.

To prove we like happy endings, check out these original fairytale endings. Gruesome. The Grimm brothers were indeed grim.

Disney would’ve never had such success if they’d not sweetened up the stories a bit. Especially the endings!

Stories are about conveying hope and truth.

I recently watched the ribald “Identity Thief” with Melissa McCarthy and Justin Bateman.

It is R for language and some sexual context but as the story opened, I wondered how in the world they were going to redeem Melissa’s character.

I mean, she stole the nice man’s identity. Cost him his job. Ruined his life.

She’s the perfect villain. You want to hate her. Yet all the while, I’m thinking, there’s something more to this character.

A dark wound. A lie. A fear.

As she pulled one stunt after another, I never rooted for her… until the moment in the story she revealed a piece of her heart.

And then I knew her problem and I knew the hero was just the character to help her find healing.

Then I rooted for her.

She came to truth. By the end, she’d changed. A lot. She was in fact heroic!

Even for a ribald comedy, there must be character change and development. Hats off to the writers…

What we learn from fairytales is we want a moral lesson.

We want truth.

We want a happy, sincere ending.

We want to walk away from the story feeling better about ourselves and our lives.

***

Endings Reflect the Beginning

How should you craft your ending? Well, how does your story begin?

All endings MUST reflect the beginning.

Reuse your setting. Reuse prose and dialog.

If the beginning is full of doubts about life, the ending is full of vision and hope about life.

In Cinderella the opening shows her dreaming, gazing out her window toward the castle.

In the end, she’s going to live in that castle.

In The Proposal we see a very uptight Margaret clinging to her very orderly life. In the end we see a very uptight Margaret opening to love and change.

Here’s how I recently ended book two in the royal wedding series, Princess Ever After.

The opening paragraphs:

She’d found bliss. Perhaps even true love. Behind the wheel of a ’71 Dodge Challenger restored to Slant 6 perfection.

Fishtailing into turn two of a west side Tallahassee dirt track, Reggie shifted into fourth gear and pushed the car to it’s max, the thrill of the race electrifying her entire being.

The engine rumbled with authority as the tires hummed over the track, churning up dust as if to truly burying yesterday and her past.

Firing down the straightaway toward pinkish-gold remains of twilight leaking through the tall pines, the last thread of Reggie’s lingering doubt flittered away on the cool September breeze.

This was what she’d been born to do. Restore junked up, forgotten old cars to their original, classic beauty. And it only took her twenty-nine years to figure it out.

Here’s how I started the Ending chapters:

She’d found bliss, and true love, between the shores of an small, gem of a nation restored to royal, sovereign perfection.

A past she’d never knew of came to life and roared into her present, redefining who she was and her all of her future days.

As strange as it still felt to be a royal princess, Reggie was confident this was what she’d been born to do. Restore Gram’s an ancient, beloved Hessenberg to it’s original, classic beauty.

I tried to show how her small beginning lead to a large ending. How she was born to restore, just not what she thought.

Her vision was too small!

So, go over your manuscript. Use these tools to help tie up your story in a classic, fairytale manner.

Happy Writing!

***

OUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.

A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 16 novels.

She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!

Go forth and write!

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