My word for 2017

I saw this idea going around the innerwebz and liked it: Choose an inspirational word for your year.

Not that I think one word means everything (if it did I’d get my word counts for the day done much faster!) or that one word should lock you in. But as a means of focus, I think it could be useful. Here’s mine, chosen in these closing minutes of the first day of the new year:

rise

I confess, I sing along SUPER LOUD when the Katy Perry Olympics theme song comes on. And I do not have the voice for it. You have been warned. But I love the sentiment. So it’ll be my word for as long as it lasts.

What’s your power word for starting the year?

New Year, New Goals: A Story Told in Ice

(Crosspost from See Jane Publish.)

My long holiday weekend got a little bit longer thanks to a lovely White Just-Missed-Christmas topped with an icing of, uh, ice. But since I was stuck at my computer, I figured there was no excuse not to sketch out my plans for the new year.

At first I wasn’t too excited about it…

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Goal-setting is a little intimidating. I have to think ahead for a whole year?! It’s hard to see that far ahead, sometimes, and the path is slippery.

But ’tis the season for new year’s resolutions…

IMG_3154I know my big plans can only be achieved through drip-by-drip word counts and daily goals…

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And so I start planning. At first it seems like a wild tangle, my brain is just a chaos of ideas and wishes and wannabes. These are my synapses on goal-setting:

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But then the pieces start to come together and smooth out. Everything starts to move in the same direction. I can see a way forward through the wilderness of A. what I want to accomplish and B. what is possible. (Since I don’t have a stop-time machine.)

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Eventually, my twelve-month to-do list starts to look — dare I say — rather impressive and stately…

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I actually feel even inspired! I see potential brilliance hidden inside these small beginnings!

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It’s early days, I know — very early days! — but I see the shape of what is to come.

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With attention to my deadlines, I’ll be mowing down my goals!

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If you have suggestions for launching with enthusiasm into the new year, please share in comments. And Happy New Year!

Hope your day was merry & bright

Jessa Slade drinks the blood of banned books

For Christmas from my loving family, I got a Banned Book mug! The mug makes everything taste better, tinged with the tangy-sweet tears of angry, small-minded people who try to ban books only to be mocked by mugs. Monster Girl down in the corner would like a sip.

(The bottom of the mug reads “For best results, use other end.” Heh.)

I hope everyone had a lovely Friday, a Merry Christmas, a delightful full moon, and generally Happy Holidays according to your inclinations.

Introducing ELSA JADE

It rains a lot here in the Pacific Northwest where I live, and we have lots of jokes about various things “sprouting like mushrooms”, and apparently one of those things is pen names.

This year, I launched a new “me” for reasons. The primary reason being that it amused me, which as far as reasons go, seems as good as any. (If you are an aspiring writer, please do not follow that reasoning.)

So now that Elsa Jade has a few words behind her name, I thought it was time to share her with you. And she already has an exciting new project…

Mating Season FB profile headerSix authors writing three novellas each about six different werewolf packs in one shared world. Super cool, right? My first contribution to the the world of the Mating Season is the purple manly fellow in the third slot. I’ll have two more coming in short order. I’m really excited about writing alongside these authors, some of whom you probably already know and some who are as shiny and new as Elsa Jade. I hope you’ll like Elsa and her friends and this new world as much as I do!

Elsa Jade website
Elsa on Facebook – Profile and Fan Page
The Mating Season website
Mating Season: Wolves of Angels Rest #1: Hero by Elsa JadeMating Season: Wolves of Angels Rest #1: Hero by Elsa Jade
99¢ or Free with Kindle Unlimited

The mating moon is rising…

A wandering werewolf returns to town during the mating season to become pack leader and reunites for one last fling with the high school crush he left behind, unaware of how short their time together might be…

Maddie Joplin left the high desert town of Angels Rest with the searing memory of her one night in the arms of the local golden boy nipping at her heels. Now, years later, she’s back, haunted by a need she couldn’t outrun and determined to finally set herself free from wishes that can never come true.

In the army, Kane Villalobos traveled the world, seeking other shapeshifters who’d learned to live in harmony with human, only to find secrecy and death. He’s destined to become alpha of the Mesa Diablo pack, but he can’t forget the lush curves and quick mouth of the girl he had to leave behind. Seeing her again arouses his wolf in dangerous ways, and keeping her safe—from himself and the perils of the werewolf world—might mean letting her go forever.

NaNoWriMo next step

This post is for my writer friends. Readers, look away unless you want to see the vulnerable underbelly of writing.

I like writing a fast first draft. The Force is strong in my Internal Editor (as it was in young Anakin, and look how well that turned out) so I have to outrun her or the story will never get written. But then comes the “what next?” stage. How do I turn a hot mess hot draft into the next phase of a finished story?

1. Let it cool a bit.

Like a cookie fresh out of the oven, I always want to start snarfing right away. But giving the cookie a moment to cool on the pan develops some flavors I wouldn’t otherwise notice while scalding my tongue on molten choco chips. Same with the story. Most writers I know don’t have time to let a story sit for months, but taking even a short step away gives me a new perspective.

2. Re-read and see what’s on the page.

I usually make some notes as I’m going through, but I don’t slow down to do actual revision. I just want a sense of what the story turned out to be, and I want to hold the whole thing in my head at once before I go back again and make some real notes.

3. Know what I forget.

There’s a bunch of things I always forget to put in the first draft. Like, um, the romance. Derp, I know. But the romance is hard, so I usually have the plot beats (first kiss, first love scene, first realization of love) but I don’t slow down enough to get the feelings on the page. That comes later. Also, my characters are never dressed. Not because they spend the whole story in bed, but because I never bother to clothe them until a later draft. Also, I use an unholy number of ellipses… Knowing what I always do wrong makes it easier to look for those things during revisions, so hopefully I can spare my critique partners asking, “Does the hero ever put on pants?”

4. Don’t edit yet.

After the first draft is when a lot of writers want to start editing. Not yet. Revising comes first. To me, editing is fixing the words. Revising is fixing the story. Almost always, I find I come back to three key points:

  • Why should I care?
    This is about the stakes of the story. What’s at risk and why should that move me?
  • Why does the character care?
    This is about the main character’s issue, arc, and motivation. The trick here is to keep asking: “But why?” Go deeper until the character’s bedrock is revealed.
  • What keeps me reading?
    This is about pacing, making the plot and character revelations unspool in a way that keeps the reader emotionally invested in turning pages.

If I can pin down the stakes, character growth (to a resonant conclusion), and pacing, I’ll feel good enough about my story to send it out to my critique partners for some real savaging.

But first, I have to get my Christmas presents made!

Congrats to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo. However many words you got done is more words than you had before!