Category Archives: Writing Resources

The Writing Blizzard #WisdomWednesday

From that day in the fifth grade when my English teacher assigned our class project – to write a book – I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’d always been an avid reader, but until that day, it hadn’t occurred to me that the stories in my head could become a story that one day others would read.

I kept at it through high school, college, and law school. The child of immigrant parents and an immigrant myself, education was important, but so was a career that would pay the bills. My parents, especially my mom, didn’t think writing would do it and I am eternally grateful that I was an obedient child since my day job has provided me with many wonderful opportunities.

But so did the world of writing. New friends and new places to visit. Of course, that was balanced out by something I didn’t expect: the writing blizzard. The flurries of ideas that might not ever become anything more. The avalanche of rejection letters that gave way to an even greater avalanche of edits, marketing demands, business obligations, and more.

A lot of new writers I meet think that getting published is the hard part. I gently try to prepare them for the greater blizzard of work that comes after publication.

But if writing is your passion, you put your head down and weather the blizzard because something bright and wonderful emerges from the storm: a new story.

And then the blizzard begins all over again!

The Character Driven Life #WriteWed

Whenever I do a chat I often get asked the same question: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

For me, the inspiration comes from a character that pops into my head. That character is just there, screaming to get a story. For example, many years ago when I was first writing contemporary romances, I had a very determined and hard ass female character interrupt the book I was writing. She just kept on showing up and demanding I listen. She was nothing like the other characters I’d been writing. She was dark and tortured. Troubled. Certainly not the kind of character I would put into one of my contemporary romances.

As much as I tried to get back to writing the story to meet my publisher’s deadline, that character would not go away and so I finally took a moment to write a chapter with her in order to understand her better. That’s when I knew it was time to try something different and Diana Reyes and The Calling Vampire series was born.

It was a lot like that for the new series since I wanted to get away from the darkness of the romantic suspense and vampire genres and into something that could show people love and lightness. To do that, I wanted a series of spunky heroines who had their issues, but who would eventually find happiness in their lives.

This time it was four characters who came to mind – Maggie, Connie, Emma and Tracy.

But even as I’m starting to work on #3 in that series, I have a character that’s coming to life in my brain. A young widow with a small child who runs a cheese shop in the fictional Jersey Shore town of Sea Kiss. Spin off time! LOL!

Once I have the basic idea for a character, I spend some time learning about who they are and what issues they have. What they need to be fulfilled. After that, I try to craft a hero that will bring out both the best and worst in that character and from there, the story emerges. I want that story to show the growth in those characters as they heal their wounds and find strength both together and alone.

And that is the character driven life.

Filling the Well #WriteWed

If I had to think of my brain as something other than a brain, I would think of it as a well, especially when I am in the midst of writing. It’s a fluid place, ready to accept the stone of an idea and to let the water ripple out to create other ideas. It’s a place where I can draw from it deeply in order to create a story.

Sometimes I feel as if it’s a rush of water that spills from the well when I get so caught up in a story that I can’t stop. That’s a good thing.

But then, inevitably, I feel as if the well has run dry after that rush and that I need to take a step back and let the well fill up again so that I can continue.

I’m sure many writers feel the same way, as if they’ve emptied their brains out on the pages and there’s nothing left inside. That’s when it’s time to take a break.

For me, that means lots of reading and maybe watching a movie. Taking a long shower or walk. Going to the gym and working up a sweat. Cleaning and organizing. There’s something about putting things in place that somehow feels like what I do in a story, putting the pieces away or shifting them until it feels right.

Whether you’re a writer or reader, I’d love to hear what you do in order to fill your well.
Filling the Well

5 Tips for Getting Past Writer’s Block #WriteWed

Another two hour commute into work today thanks to the derailment in Penn Station on Monday. Two derailments in just over two weeks. Gotta wonder what’s going on.

If there’s one silver lining in that ominous transit cloud, it’s that it’s given me a chance to work through a block I was having in Book #2 in the At the Shore series.

It’s actually funny considering that I’m giving a workshop this weekend at the Liberty States Fiction Writers monthly meeting on plotting using the Hero’s Journey. I should heed my own advice on what’s essential in the story when the heroes reach that first black moment.

In my story, it actually starts with a black moment, but I won’t spill on what that is and spoil it for you. What I will do is offer up some tips on what to do when you’ve hit a block in your writing and how to work past it.

1. Watch a fav movie or read a fav book. There’s a reason why they’re a favorite. Maybe it’s the characters. Maybe it’s a surprise you didn’t expect or that warm feeling you had that stayed with you long after the story was over. Tap into that magic to find out what’s missing in your story.

2. Read a new book not in your genre. Sometimes you’re too caught up in what you think is expected in your genre and you need something different to blast you past the expected.

3. Read a book in your genre. Whether the book turns out to be bad or good, what was it you liked or disliked? As a reader of that genre, did it meet your expectations and if not, why? If it did, how does what you’re writing work in comparison? For me, I always turn to a master in contemporary romance: Nora Roberts. No matter what I get a good read and her stories make me take a step back and wonder about how I can touch readers with the same kind of magic she brings to the stories.

4. Take a long walk or a shower. I don’t know why, but both of these somehow make me focus on the problem at hand and how to work through it. Maybe it’s the ions in the water or those at the beach, my favorite place to stroll.

5. Visualize the scene before you try to write it. People often ask how I can write so fast and part of it is that I often visualize the scene in my head before I even sit down to write. It prevents just staring at a blank screen for way too long. When I do have a block about that scene, I will often see it in my head multiple times and from different perspectives. Oftentimes I will have to rewind it and play it again, altering the direction of what’s happening. Erasing what doesn’t work and starting again until there are enough good bones that I can finally sit down and flesh out the scene when I’m writing.

I hope these tips help you work past any writer’s block. If you’d like to know more about the Hero’s Journey, visit my Resources for Writers Page with lots of good tips or if you’re in the area, come by the Liberty States monthly meeting. If you’re not in the area, think about joining and listening to one of the many recorded workshops we have for members. My workshop this weekend is being recorded!

Writer's Block

#TuesdayTip Letting the Characters Lead the Way

Sorry to miss Man Candy, but I had some family things to handle. In the meantime, I’ve been furiously working on #2 in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance Series which more and more is feeling like “A Goodbye Summer.” Or least that’s the title for now. LOL!

For a long time I was a pantser and never wrote an outline. That ended for me years ago when I started writing series and needed to have an outline of not only the first book, but the connected books in the series. But for me, even an outline has a lot of give because of the characters and what I want to get across in the story.

For example, I’ve just gotten to a pivotal point where the hero and heroine are about to take that leap and I could have approached it in various ways. In fact, I wrote a good chunk of the scene but decided that it just wasn’t the feeling I wanted to convey for two people who were once lovers, but haven’t been together in nearly a decade. Sure there’s physical attraction there and I found myself fighting it as much as the characters were fighting it.

Which led me to a different scene because the characters were telling me there needed to be more to have them make that leap to lovers once again. There needed to be a deep emotional connection to bring them together at that particular moment.

Sometimes the characters will lead the way and as a writer, you need to give them the space and experiment with what they’re telling you to do. If it doesn’t work, there’s always the delete key and a chance to let them lead you down a different path. You’ll know in your gut when you’re on the right road with them.

Caridad's Writing Outline

#WriteWed My Writing Process & #Contest

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How can you write so much when you’ve still got your full time job?”

It’s not easy, I’ll confess. There is a tug and pull between work and writing obligations and even more importantly, between family and work/writing obligations.

Because of all those conflicting things, I had to adapt to creating a writing process for myself that minimized conflicts.

The first thing was to make the most efficient use of my time. That meant writing on my commute to and from work. That also meant learning to write when it wouldn’t impinge on family times, namely, early morning and late late night.

I learned to be a morning person something which my mom would find hard to believe if she was still alive. I was one of those people who loved to laze in bed until noon.

Now I’m up at 5 a.m. on weekdays and on the train by 6. I get a solid 45 minutes of writing in on the train ride in and another on the train ride home.

The bulk of my writing is done on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’m up by 6 usually, make the coffee (must have coffee) and then I’m on my laptop. During the winter months, I’m usually on the couch under a blanket while I write. I also usually have the television on. Yes, I know that some might find that distracting, but I’m used to working in noisy environments.

The spring/summer/Fall months are my favorite ones since when it’s warm enough, I head out onto my small balcony and sit and write there. In the early mornings it’s peaceful and I can often hear and smell the ocean, which is quite relaxing. The family cat, Osiris, will often join me. Here’s a picture of her and also, of some of the flowers I try to have on the balcony. I love those also and wish I had more space to grow things at my place.

Orisis my family cat
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When I’ve got tight deadlines, I also work late at night, but I’m not a fan of that. First, because I’m tired from a day at work and second, because that’ll make me tired for the next day at work. But when I have to do it, I do.

So that’s my writing process. It works for me. It may not work for you and I think the key is to find out how to balance your writing life with all your other obligations.

Contest

Don’t forget we’ve got lots of fun things going on for the release of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Box Set.

This set is available for pre-order now, but will be officially released on March 3. We’re having a big release party on March 5 at our Facebook page and a contest where you can win a number of different items. Just check out the Rafflecopter below to find out how to earn points!

You can also get extra points by capturing the bad boy keyword(s) (hint: find the hot bad boy pic) in our Lucky 7 Videos. You can find them here:

Lucky 7 Video #1
Lucky 7 Video #2

a Rafflecopter giveaway















My Writer’s Journey Part 2 #amwriting

A few weeks ago I shared with you the start of my writer’s journey and although I got the writing bug in the fifth grade, it wasn’t until high school that I once again sat down to think about writing something longer than a short story or class assignment.

As some of you may know, I was born in Cuba and left when I was quite young. That story is a long one and filled with adventure in many ways, but the story of what came before was what inspired my first book.

Throughout my life I’d heard bits and pieces about how my parents had worked with the Civic Resistance in Havana to help bring about change on the island. I’d also heard how they realized that the change they had wrought, namely putting Fidel Castro in power, was totally not what they had expected. Because of that, they had started working with many of the same people to bring about change again. Of course, that’s what prompted my parents’ precipitous escape from Cuba and started a nearly two year struggle to get the rest of the family out of the country.

But the “after” part is for another time. It’s the “before” part that inspired the first novel I wanted to write, a romantic adventure about a wealthy Philadelphia Main Line woman who goes down to Cuba and falls in love with a handsome doctor who is involved in the rebellion. In real life, it was my mother who was the rebel and briefly engaged to a rich Main Line man. His family didn’t approve and so that romance ended not-so-happily, but in my books there is always a happily-ever-after.

I gleaned what info I could from family and friends and books so I could write that romance set during the Cuban revolution. Off and on during my high school days, I did that work and built the story in my head. I asked for a typewriter (no computers in my day!) and desk for high school graduation and pictured myself slaving away to write that novel.

I’m not sure my mom approved on many levels. For starters, she rarely talked about Cuba and what had happened. I know it had hurt her deeply to be so wrong and bring about such horrific change to the country she loved. Once we came here, we became American and moved away from all that, I think in part because remembering was too painful for her.

I’m not sure she approved of my thinking of writing as a possible career choice. I’d already been accepted to a few colleges and in her mind there were only a few professions that would allow her daughters to prosper, law and medicine being at the top of the list. Writer, not so much.

I didn’t get that typewriter or desk for high school graduation, but that didn’t stop me from collecting all my notes and research so I could start writing my novel during the summer before college. That decision shocked my mother I’m sure, but she went along with it.

Her office was getting rid of this awful pink paper and so she brought some home for me to type my first draft on. We weren’t well off so things like reams of paper were not in the budget.

Somehow the pink fit the romantic undertones in the novel. LOL!

I didn’t finish that novel that summer, but I got at least a hundred or more pages done. I kept at it during free time in college while I was a Science Major with my eye set on a career as a doctor. That’s my hubby and I in the summer after our freshman year of college.

I figured, doctors read and doctors write. I could always do the writing in my spare time and finish my novel.

By the time college was done, I was a little closer to having a finished work, but life has a funny way of throwing a curve your way just when you think you know where you are going.

I graduated magna cum laude, but I didn’t get into medical school. My mom had left her job to join a new law firm and I went to work with her while I decided what to do. But even though there was some hesitation about my future as a doctor, I was sure of one thing: I was going to finish my novel.