Tryp hat
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Sunday Hat: A Man’s Hat with Zany Attitude

Sometimes you need a little crazy.  It’s the last Sunday of the month.  A new season is about to start, holding with it the promise of cool days, longer nights, and secrets that only the creatures in the shadows know.  It thought it was fitting to try something new.  Today’s is a man’s hat that I stumbled across, though I have a feeling woman could pull it off with graceful aplomb.  I love the slope of the top and the curl of the brim.  Adding a bit of whimsy to what could be so stuffy.

Writing Books: Butt in the Chair

I am back to making steady words on the page.  I’ve found I frequently get caught up in all the little things of life — work, errands, bills and such — and I have trouble finding time to get words regularly on the page.  And if I don’t have words on the page, then I’ve got nothing to edit, nothing to publish, and nothing for my dear readers.  That’s not good.  The first step to writing a book is getting words on the page.  And to do that, you got to get your butt in the chair.

So, I thought I would address a couple questions I’ve gotten recently about writing.

Joy, how do you find time to write books when you’re working full time and busy with so many other things?writer

Get your butt in the chair.

Well, that’s the short answer.  Let’s try this.  Do you have one free hour every day?  It doesn’t have to be one complete hour.  It can be a series of minutes spread throughout the day that add up to an hour. Yes?  Excellent.  You can write a book.

That’s all it takes.

In about an hour, you can write 1,000 words.  Well, in truth, in one totally undisturbed hour (as in no Internet access, no interruptions) I can write an average of 1,500 words.  But let’s just say you aim for 1,000 words in that hour.

But, Joy, that’s only a 1,000 w0rds!  I’ve got an entire book to write!

Yes, but think about it.  If you write an average 300-page mass market novel, that’s about 100,00 words.  At 1,000 words per day, you can write the rough draft of a novel in just over 3 months.  THREE MONTHS!!!

But I can’t write 1,000 great words in an hour!

Ahhh, this is another question I get. How do you get 1,ooo great words in an hour?

You don’t.

WHAT?!?!??!

It’s true.  You can’t.  You can’t guarantee that you will have 1,000 great, awesome perfect words in a hour.  At the end of an hour, you will have 1,000 words.  Some good and a lot of bad.  But by having words on a page, you will have something better than great words — you will have the start of a story that can be built upon.  You will have something to edit.  No one write a first draft that is also the final draft.  It just isn’t done.  I don’t care if you’re Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Neil Gaiman.  But you can’t edit a story if you never get the words on the page.

So, here’s:

Rule #1. Get your butt in the chair for 1 hour and write 1,000 words every day.

If you’re going to be busy all day, get them done early in the day so you don’t worry about running out of time.  I went out with friends last Saturday night so I wrote my words early in the day so I wouldn’t forget.

Rule #2 Don’t edit the previous day’s words.

You are not allowed to go back and edit anything until the book is finished.  Period.  No room for discussion here. (I know there are lots of authors who will do this, but you’re not allowed to yet.  When you’ve finished a book in 3 months time, then you’re allowed to edit as you go.  Until then, I say no.)  Why?  Let me explain.

Reason 1: If you’ve got only 5,000 words on the page, how can you possibly know your world, characters, or plot that well?  By editing now, you’re constantly locking your book into this idea that you have at the very beginning and you’re not giving yourself or your characters the chance to grow or change.  As someone who has completed 14 books, I can say with certainty that the fiction novel you begin on page 1 will not be the same book you end up with on page 300.  Why?  Characters change and surprise you.  You come up with new plot turns and subplot twists that you didn’t expect when you first started.  The setting produces something unexpected to meet a different need.

Give yourself time to meet your characters and world.  Worry about the perfect words in draft 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Reason 2: Writing and editing take place in two different parts of your brain.  Imagine the creator as a little person with a beret and a quill pen.  And the editor is a crazy-haired person with a red ink pen.  If you start letting the editor in while you’re creating, it can become difficult to kick the editor out when you just want to create.  Can you really be creative with someone holding a red pen staring over your shoulder tsking?  Hell no! You’re now worried about every word before it hits the page.  Now, you start questioning not only the words, but the character and the setting and the plot.  Oh shit! Now you think the whole book idea is garbage and you haven’t gotten past page 20.

Now instead of letting yourself freely create something that could have been really cool someday, you’ve just pressured yourself out of writing anything.

In short, don’t edit until it’s time to edit — when the rough draft is COMPLETELY DONE!

One final question.

I think I can do 1,000 words a day easily, but how do I keep up with it?

I have a trick for you. 750words.com

I’ve talked about this site in the past.  I drifted away from it when I started a new job, moved, and got busy with other things.  But when I decided that it was time to buckle down again and get those 1,000 words every day, I started using 750words.com again.

Why?  Because it comes with special badges to mark your accomplishments.  And that helps.  You stop worrying about “Hey, I’ve got only 10,000 words done and I need to hit 100,000 words.  This is going to take FOREVER!”  But with this site, you can think, “Hey, I’ve written 5 days in a row. I’ve gone from being an turkey to a penguin!  In five more days, I go up to a flamingo!”  The shorter, fun goals help keep you on target and your eye on the prize.

The other thing is that it stores your words.  Sometimes I’m writing but I don’t have the manuscript with me.  I remember roughly where I left off and where I was going.  I put the words in 750words.com, hit my goal, and then later paste them into the document.

Since I’ve started again, I’ve completed 19 days in a row and written 22,000 words.  That includes the completion of one book, some plot outline notes (yes, your words don’t have to be just book words, they can be outline notes), and some words for another book I’m working on.  These are the badges I’ve gotten so far.

butt in the chair, writing advice, 750 words

As you can guess, I’m back to being a flamingo, but I’m closing in on the albatross!

Next time, we’ll talk about how a plot outline can help get rid of writer’s block.

For now, remember the key.  Get you butt in the chair.  Write 1,000 words per day and you’ll get that book done before you know it.

romance
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10 Romance Novels from My Keeper Shelf

Who doesn’t love to be swept away on a great tale of romance, intrigue, mistaken identity, misunderstanding, heroes, heroines, and dark villains?  To me, romance is the ultimate escapism.  Sure, so are fantasy and science fiction, but I think too often romance gets pawned off as fluff.  But if you fine a great writer, you get some truly wondrous characters.  I so love to fall in love with a great character. I love romance novels.

Everyone is always in search of a great author and an awesome book to read.  I know I’m always on the hunt.  So, I thought I would present you with 10 books from my romance keeper shelf.  In other words, these are some romance novels that will always remain on my shelves over the years, because every once in a while, you need to prune your shelf or you’ll just run out of room.

This was not an easy task.  In fact, I had to set some ground rules early on.  The romance novels for this list had to fall in either historical or contemporary romance.  (I read way too many paranormal romance and I feel like they deserve their own list, which I will tackle next week.)

These romance novels are in no particular order, because simply can’t choose an ultimate favorite.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Darcy.  Need I say more.  No, not really.  Reading Darcy and Elizabeth interact is so wonderful.  Their misunderstanding and how he tries to prove himself to her just make my heart melt.  Seriously.  I melt.

Forever His by Shelly Thacker

Okay, this is one I’m not going to gone on about, because I already did that here.  Typically, I’m not a time travel fan. I’ve got too many hang ups walking into those stories that I struggle, but I do love this tale.  He’s a stubborn man and she’s got a deadly clock ticking against her.  It’s beautiful.

Tender Rebel by Johanna Lindsey

This one is a favorite for a number of reason. This book was given to me when I was a teenage by an aunt when she was cleaning out some books that she’d finished reading.  It was my first Johanna Lindsey book, my first Mallory book (if you haven’t read Lindsey yet, you’ll understand when you start meeting the Mallorys), and the heroine was a fiery redheaded Scot.  A great combination.

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught 

I fell in love with Judith McNaught’s books so many years ago.  I don’t know how I stumbled across them but I know I reread them all a hundred times it seems.  This one, I think, is my favorite, but it’s a close call.  It’s a story and strength and redemption.

I Thee Wed or Mistress by Amanda Quick

Ok. This one was just too close to call.  Quick’s books always contain their quirky heroines that make you laugh and these somewhat stick-in-the-mud, unusual heroes that you love to see fall in love.  Both books were lots of fun.

The Black Sheep and the Princess by Donna Kauffman

I lucked into a copy of this book, I believe, while I was a writing conference.  It took me a little time to get around to reading it because – as you can tell by the list so far – I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance.  I believe it’s part of a trilogy, but I haven’t had the time to pick up the other two books yet.  The story is of misconceptions and a black sheep trying to do right the second time around.

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

This is the third book in her Maiden Lane series.  I loved the first two books, but I think this one has barely edged out the other two as my favorite.  But definitely read the first two as well.  I’ve fallen behind in my reading and plan to continue with the series.  It looks like the seventh comes out this October.  This book focuses on a fallen woman, a child, and a very naughty man.  Go, read, and love it.

Ivan by Roxie Rivera

Sometimes you try something on a whim and you get sucked in.  I didn’t intend to put a novella on my list but well, sometime you can’t avoid it.  I tried this novella out of curiosity because I like Russian heroes and it was free.  I fell in love with Ivan.  He’s a great, somewhat broken hero.  This novella is also a gateway to the rest of the stories and it’s a great way to try out a new author.  Dimitri wasn’t exactly my speed, but I did enjoy the stories for Nikolai, Yuri, and Sergei.

Any Taggert or Montgomery book Jude Deveraux

I think Jude Deveraux was the first romance author I ever read. A friend in junior high introduced me her books and I devoured every book I could get my hands on.  There are too many awesome books to name, but I think some of my favorites were focused on members of either the Taggert or the Montgomery families.

 

Well, you now have my keeper list of historical or contemporary romance novels.  I would love to hear any authors or books you think I need to try.  If you give an author suggestion, please also include a book or two I need to start with.  Many authors have a huge backlist and I never know where to start.  Also, please focus on contemporary or historical romance novels.  We’ll get around to sci-fi, paranormal, post-apocalypse, and dystopian soon.

sunday hat, funny face
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Sunday Hat: Funny Face

Saturday is proving to be my lazy day.  It’s the day I watch movies, read books, and generally lounge about the house before getting back to the business of writing books.  This weekend, I finally got around to watching the 1957 movie Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.  It was a cute movie, but definitely not my favorite of Hepburn’s — that it likely Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Charade.  However, I did love the fashion displayed through the movie.  This hat in particular made me smile because it reminds me of an over-sized marshmallow and looks adorable on Hepburn.

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Return of the Sunday Hat: Untouchable Grace

I can’t believe that it’ been nearly a year since I last did a Sunday Hat post.  I promise to try to post more often on this site, but honestly, if you want to get regular updates on all the goodness that I’m up to, you’re best bet is to visit my main site (JocelynnDrake.com).  However, this hat picture instantly caught my attention.

It’s not just the elongated style of the hat with its sweeping feather and flower accents.  It’s the stance of the model, the cut of the dress, the pale line of vulnerable bare flesh that all combine to create a type of untouchable grace and haunting allure.  The woman and the hat possess a kind of delicacy that almost hide an inner strength,  a will of steel.

I think I might tuck this picture away and write  a story about this woman.  I think she needs her own story.

beach

Romantic Getaways for Adorable Couples

It’s hard to believe, but today is my three-year wedding anniversary. There are moments when it feels like we’ve always been together and there are times when it feels as if we’ve been married only the blink of an eye.  While we were unable to get away for a special vacation this year, I’m hoping that we can do a second honeymoon-type getaway when we have our five- year anniversary.

So, I asked my husband, where he’d like to go for a romantic honeymoon in a couple years.  His reply?  “I’m happy wherever we are so long as I’m with you.”  Yep, that’s why we work so well together, my friends.  But after a little prodding, I did get a few suggestions from him.

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Mr. and Mrs. Jocelynn Drake’s Top 5 Romantic Getaways

5. Paris, FranceParis

Personally, I’d rather this be a little closer to the top of the list, but my husband isn’t ecstatic about the idea of going to Paris. I visited while I was in high school as part of an exchange program. It was beautiful but we were on this insane, busy itinerary.  I’d love for us to go and spend a week wandering around the city, eating amazing food, and enjoy being in the old City of Light and the City of Love.  I’d love to stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower with my husband,  have our portraits drawn at Montmartre, and stroll along the Seine.

4. ScotlandScotland

Sorry, I can’t be more specific than the entire country, but come on… it’s SCOTLAND.  I’m talking ancient castles, rolling green hills, bagpipes, kilts, amazing accents, and rich history. (And yes, my husband has said that he would be happy to wear a kilt. And yes, he does have the legs for it.) I have never been to Scotland but every picture I’ve seen and every person I’ve talked to has convinced me that I need to visit this lovely land.

3. TahitiTahiti-Beach-Wallpaper

It’s a gorgeous island surrounded by crystal blue water and white beaches.  And do you know what’s even better?  It’s in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t imagine being able to get farther from the world we know.  In a perfect little vacation, we’d lock up laptops and smart phones in a safe and wouldn’t touch them until we were packing to leave.  It would be time where we were completely out of contact from the world.  It would be time of swimming, snorkeling, boating, lounging on the beach, and just enjoying being together in an exquisite setting.  No social media. No deadlines. Yeah, that sounds like a nice slice of heaven to me.

Florence2. Florence, Italy

Okay, so there are a lot of places that I’d love to go in Italy, but Florence is at the top of both my list and my husband’s.  Why?  Well, we’ve got to lay the blame at the feet of Ezio Auditorre de Firenze. Who?  The charming, devilish Italian who appears in three Assassin’s Creed games.  My husband played the games and then promptly introduced them to his lovely wife, who became addicted as well.  We’ve both wandered the streets and rooftops of Renaissance Italy in the video game.  We’ve swapped stories and marveled over images that have become ingrained in our brains. This is one of those magical places where we will wander hand in hand, staring in quiet awe at the history that has seeped into every building and work of art.  Of course, since it’s Italy, so we will eat and eat and eat. Heaven!

1. HawaiiHawaii

We vacationed in Hawaii. We got married in Hawaii. And it’s currently our #1 choice to go to spend our five-year anniversary. The people were wonderfully nice and polite.  The scenery was beautiful. The food was excellent.  I’d love to go back and wander around the island some more in a rented car.  I’d love to have our vows renewed one morning on the beach before heading out for a day of snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins.  In the evening, we’ll enjoy a luau and dancing under the stars while listening to the waves washing in against the beach.

Those are our top 5 Romantic Getaways for Adorable Couples.  Is there anything we’ve missed?  Where would like like to go for a romantic getaway?