Write Now Prompt for December 1, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

She knew she was breaking the rules, but sometimes that was the right thing to do.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Interview with Jackie Fraser


I met Jackie years ago in an online writing forum. We later spent time in the same writer’s group and whenever I’ve had to take time away from the group, I beg Jackie to keep sending me her stuff. I’ve been lucky enough to read a lot of her books and I’m rereading her latest now. Jackie is so good at creating characters who feel like real people – the kind you think about long after you’ve finished reading. A big reason for that is her ear for natural dialogue that makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping on an actual conversation. Her new novel, The Bookshop of Second Chances, is like that. I got her to talk to me about her writing style and publishing journey.

 

Talk a bit about your most recent book. How long did it take to write? Who is your audience?

The Bookshop of Second Chances is commercial women’s fiction. It’s about Thea, who loses her job and splits up with her husband when she discovers he’s been sleeping with her friend. Her great-uncle has left her his house and collection of books in Lowland Scotland. She goes up there to sort out the house and sell the books. She meets Charles and Edward, estranged aristocratic brothers, and decides to stay for the summer, getting a job in Edward’s second-hand bookshop. And so on.

I’d hesitate to say it’s entirely romance, although it’s stuffed with romantic tropes, some more foolish than others. I wanted to see how far I could go with that and still write something I’d like to read. So the audience is ‘me’ and by that I mean ‘women of 45 plus who like a happy ending but don’t always find older women in romance novels particularly relatable’.

It took about five or six months to write altogether – I began in September 2016 and it was more or less done by the following spring, although I had some trouble with the ending. I did a million drafts.

Tell me about your writing process. At what stage of writing do you find outside feedback helpful? How do you sift through differing advice?

I have an idea for the beginning of something, and usually an idea about the central relationship. Then I just hammer it out. I don’t fight it if I get stuck, but I do make myself keep going if I’m bored of typing. I work it out scene by scene (at night usually) and sometimes I’ve done that well enough in my head that actually getting the thing into the computer seems a bit tedious.

Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, on a good day I can write 8000 words, but usually I manage much less than that. I edit as I go along but not in a decisive way – I just often re-read and amend sections as I’m going. My aim is always to just get the first draft finished, though, not to make it ‘good’ in any way. I put the speech marks in at the end, because writing dialogue is my favourite thing and punctuating it gets in the way. Apparently this is a bit weird.

I do a number of drafts and don’t share it with anyone until I’m pretty happy with it. I go on the waiting list for the Women’s Fiction Critique Group (on Facebook, run by ex-Authonomites). The Bookshop went to be critiqued in February 2018, so I’d probably waited, I don’t know, six months for that? I can’t remember. I was writing something else by then, anyway. So it went off to be critiqued. I think it was the fourth of my books that went to the WFCG, and the response was pretty good. I’d been a bit worried that it might be too ‘romantic’ (they don’t do standard romantic novels) but generally it went down a storm. I was slightly surprised, even though I did think it was quite good. (British sense of ‘quite’ there – as in ‘reasonably’.)

I got some good, useful feedback, particularly about the end as I recall, plus a significant suggestion about changing the location of one scene. I usually copy and paste all the comments into a document and work through them. Critiques are so useful, even if you disagree wildly with what people are saying. Anyway, I did a ‘final’ draft, and then probably another three. By 2019 I was trying to make myself submit it. I don’t always submit my books, I find it quite difficult, even though rejections don’t really bother me. But submitting is hard work, I hate writing synopses because my books have very small plots that can look quite feeble, and the whole thing is wearisome.

Do you plot it all out on note cards or does the ending come as a surprise to you, too?

Ha, no, I don’t really plot at all. I just ‘put some characters in a room and see what happens’. As I say, I usually have a vague idea – I mean the question is always ‘will X and Y KISS?’ and the answer is ‘YES, OBVIOUSLY’ – it’s not very complex. However how they get there and what the ‘apparently insurmountable barrier to congress’ will be is less clear.

What do you do if you get stuck?

I stop and do something else and assume my subconscious will fix it, which is usually does.

Do you read in the same genre(s) you write in? Are there particular authors who inspire you?


Ah, so this is a tricky one and the answer is… not really. I like literary fiction best. Which I can’t write, although I do try sometimes. I also read a lot of non-fiction (which I also write). Recently I have read a few more books at the lighter end of the women’s fiction spectrum because one ought to read in one’s genre. But I read all sorts of things, and I’m basically inspired by everyone who writes well, in whatever genre.

In terms of my own genre, Georgette Heyer is my greatest inspiration because her books are funny, and her characters are almost always convincing, however silly her plots may appear. My favourite authors include Iain Banks, Douglas Coupland, Claire Fuller, Terry Pratchett, Hilary Mantel, Susanna Clarke, Sarah Perry, E M Delafield, Stella Gibbons, and Kate Atkinson, who I absolutely love. (Interestingly, Atkinson says she’d write books even if they never got published and I would too – that is, after all, what I’ve done my whole life up to now.)

Can you describe your path to publication?

Well. Simon & Schuster UK have a Digital Originals imprint and every year in July they have a one-day open call for commercial women’s fiction submissions. Last year I noticed this on the actual day, and the extremely short deadline was very motivating. I sent off ‘five hundred words about me’ plus my first chapter. That week they came back and asked me to send the full manuscript. I’d never been asked for a full before, so this was quite the thrill.

Then everything went very, very quiet. In October one of the team shared a pic on Twitter of their Kindle with my words on it, which was exciting, but then it went very quiet again. In January they started talking about #OneDay2020, so I assumed it was a no, and planned to email and ask for a formal rejection (for my Rejection Spreadsheet). But when I opened my emails that morning there was one asking me to go to London for a meeting. Obviously I cried.

Anyway, I went to the meeting (I was extremely, surprisingly nervous) and we talked about the book and my soon-to-be-editor suggested a couple of revisions. I went home and did those and then we signed the contract. As an editor myself, receiving my copy-edits was really exciting, and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

I’ve been very lucky, as they’ve sold the rights in Germany and the US, so there will be a German edition (for my German in-laws to read!) and an American one – which will be a physical paperback. (The US edits were extremely bracing – I also had to write an extra chapter for them.) Plus there’s going to be a large print library edition, and US and UK audio books. I’m astonished frankly.

What can we expect to see from you next?

I’m writing two new things at the moment and hoping they’ll want to publish one of them. One’s about a woman who runs away from home, and the other one is about a woman who owns a fancy house that she rents as a retreat for artists and writers. I’ve nearly finished the first drafts of both, and am at the stage of having no idea whether they’re any good.

For more information on Jackie, follow her on Facebook!

Write Now Prompt for November 20, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

They hadn’t seen the sun in weeks.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Write Now Prompt for November 17, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

They found the backpack on the ground by a tree, but  its owner was nowhere to be found.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Writing Tips from the Master–Stephen King

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

When I first heard about Stephen King’s how-to book, On Writing, I didn’t even check it out. I figured a horror writer couldn’t teach me what I needed to know about writing in the thriller or historical fiction genre.

I was wrong. Turns out, his book is chock full of common sense, easy-to-understand hints about how to write a great novel, be it literary fiction, historic, horror, or any other genre. King just seems to get it–the twists of plots, the fascination of characters, the uniqueness of settings.

Here are seven of his tips. For more depth on them, visit the Positivity Blog:

  1. Get to the point
  2. Write a draft. Then let it rest
  3. Cut down your text
  4. Be relatable and honest
  5. Don´t care too much what others may think
  6. Read a lot
  7. Write a lot

More tips from writers:

18 Tips on Grammar from William Safire

A Bunch of Tips from Jeff Goins (Who’s He?)

Tips from The Careful Writer

Click to have Writer’s Tips delivered to your email box

Questions you want answered? Leave a comment and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021. 

Write Now Prompt for November 10, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

The sun trying to shine through the early morning fog cast strange shadows on the scene, making it hard for people to know what was really happening.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Write Now Prompt for October 30, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

They sat in awkward silence as circumstances brought them together for the first time in many years.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Write Now Prompt for October 27, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

The old tower had a single, small window and no visible doors, but it was clear that people were often inside of it.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.

Thoughts That Run Through My Brain Now That I’m Published

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds August 2020. In case you missed it there, here are my anecdotal thoughts on how to add drama to your story:

***

K.M. Allen has a wonderful blog subtitled “Writing Advice From A YA Author Powered By Chocolate And Green Tea”. It’s hard-hitting, upbeat, and covers many of my musings as a write. Months ago, she wrote a post called Thoughts That Run Through Your Head Now That You’re a Published Author. It’s a good read and spot-on (as are all of her posts). It sent me into a tizzy of what I thought about after my first book in the prehistoric fiction genre, and then after each subsequent ones. With Against All Odds now out,my fourth in the Man vs. Nature ecosystem and final in the Crossroads trilogy, here are my thoughts on writing in a genre that few even know exists:

  • Ever since I started my prehistoric fiction series, it’s been like having one foot in quicksand and the other on a sheet of ice. I was told over and over it wouldn’t work–that I wasn’t Jean Auel (duh) so don’t waste my time. I guess I like wasting time.
  • There are times I feel that my keyboard might as well be a potted plant except it’s a lot more annoying.
  • I’m a Trekkie–long time Trekkie. I felt what the Starship captains might have felt when I started writing my first prehistoric fiction, boldly going where few have gone regardless of risk, reasonableness, or advice from those who know better. I can count successful prehistoric fiction writers on one hand. There’s probably a good reason for that. If I could stop, I would but passion isn’t something that can be controlled.
  • Wondering if my book will be a Blockbuster is like watching a long fuse burn on a stick of wet dynamite, pretty sure that the dynamite is a dud.
  • I hate when people replace facts with hyperbole. Let’s relate that to my books: Someone declares my latest novel the ‘best story since Jean Auel’ but doesn’t buy the book, as though calling it ‘best’ replaces the purchase.
  • A lot can happen between “I’m a writer” and “I finished my novel.” For example, I might never get there. That will happen some day but I guess I’ll keep writing until it does.
  • There seems to be no cure for writing in a genre that most people don’t read. I don’t care.
  • Writing about life a million years ago is like trying to put a jigsaw together without the picture. Almost no one knows what that world looked like.
  • If we are defined by the choices we make, what’s that say about my choice to write in a genre with arguably one of the smallest reading populations? Never mind. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

More on being a writer (humor)

Are you a Writer?

What Worries Me When I Write

Tricks of Being a Writer

11 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

 


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Winter 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

Write Now Prompt for October 23, 2020

Write_Now_Plane

At Today’s Author, our first goal is to get you (and us) to write. Write Now is our own collection of prompts to help you do that. With Write Now we’re not talking about writing, or trying to teach anyone how to write. Write Now is all about putting pen to paper.

Today’s Prompt:

In the end, they all wanted the same thing. They just couldn’t agree on how to get there.

Now_Write_Plane

How to play along with our Writing Prompts

  1. Write in any format or style you wish: short story, poem, script – whatever you like.
  2. Write for at least 5 minutes. There is no time limit – write for as long as you wish!
  3. Editing is not required, though we do recommend that you run a spell check at least.
  4. Post your work to your blog and include a link back here so your readers can find other writer’s work, too.
  5. Come back here and provide a link to your work on the Write Now! prompt for which it was written.
  6. Read other authors’ posts and leave constructive comments.

Important Note: When you post a draft of your work online, it may be difficult to find a publisher who will accept it, as many see an online document as being previously published. It may also be ineligible to be submitted for certain writing competitions. Always check publisher’s and competition guidelines before using a draft you put online.