Category Archives: The Writing Lifestyle

Reconnecting with Writing

artsy handwritingIf you follow the blog regularly, you know that since RWA last summer, I haven’t done much work on Three Proposals, despite back-to-back Immersions in November and January. I’ve been spending a lot of time at my kids’ school since August as the Parent Service Organization (PSO) Vice President, having run a very successful Read-a-Thon last fall and having helped with a well-attended Daddy-Daughter Dance this past weekend. I’ve told the school that there’s no way I’m going to serve on the board next year. It’s time-consuming and while I love doing stuff for my kids, I do surprisingly little in my childs’ classrooms. Frankly, that’s where I’d rather be.

As a part of future planning with the PSO, I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of my career (or lack thereof). I’m not reading blogs as much as I used to, I’m not digging into aspects of craft, and I’m certainly not putting words on the page. I’ve had requests for fulls from agents and editors who judged the few contests I’ve won. And I have this book, Three Proposals, hanging around my neck like a pigeon (it’s not albatross-worthy, but it’s still annoying and I feel like I keep getting shit on).

My conclusion? It’s time for that to change.

I’ve started prioritizing writing into my life again. Hard to go cold turkey and clear my entire schedule for nothing but writing, but a key thing I’ve done is made a regular meeting time with my CPs and commit to giving them something of mine every week (in addition to reading their stuff) — even if it’s just work on my outline for the new contemporary story I started. It’s making me keep my head in my story (and in theirs).

I also started the James Patterson Master Class (I’ve seen the link on FB quite a bit and I was intrigued). The one thing James mentions in his first lesson is that he woke at 5 a.m. to make time for writing. He had a day job and I don’t, so I’m not waking at 5 a.m. (I’m really not a morning person, anyway). But I have started putting my foot down as to what I will and won’t work on each day.

For example, today was a story day. I did have a few “housekeeping” things to take care of after I got the kiddos off to school, but once that was accomplished, I spent the better part of the morning working on my outline, brainstorming over the phone with one of my CPs, and catching up on a few blogs. The amazing part? It felt so GOOD to get back into writing again.

My son asked me today why I quit taking tae kwon do lessons. I told him it was because I discovered writing and I liked writing more than I did TKD. What I’ve forgotten over the last 7 months was how MUCH I like writing. Discovering new stories, new characters, and new ways to make their lives difficult (but their stories interesting).

My goals for February are to keep providing feedback for my CPs, finish the course with James Patterson, and have a good, strong outline of my contemporary story completed.

How have you prioritized writing in your life lately?

Visual Imagery with Playlists

justine covington, book playlist, romance writingIn the McDaniel Romance Writing program, we had two assignments to help us visualize our book. One was a collage (hated it; hard to do using modern magazines to represent a story that takes place 200 years ago; I’m so not showing you what I did); the other was a playlist. I didn’t mind the playlist too much, because much of the music I like was actually “modern” for Regency England. Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach were all well-regarded composers at the time and ladies would perform their work at musicales.

It’s been over a year now since I visited my playlist for Three Proposals, but I played it yesterday and was surprised by how well my musical selections still stand up to my story, despite the massive changes I’ve made since then. In truth, about the only thing that’s the same story-wise are the character’s names! Continue reading

Queen of the Curve Ball

throwing curve ballMy first job is and always will be a mom. I have two wonderful, precocious boys who keep me on my toes. They’re five and four and full of energy. My second job is writing (although my husband would argue it’s being CEO of Our Household). Because I’m a mom, I have to play a bit of baseball, too. Position: batter. Goal: avoid the curve ball. Continue reading

Shakin’ Up Your Brain

typewriter keysI assume most of you are like me…you get to a great place in your novel and then WHAM! your brain shuts like a steel door to a vault. You can’t think what your characters should do next. Ya got nuthin’!

This has happened quite a lot recently (I have a lot of other stuff on my brain) so I thought a little structure exercise might be what the doctor ordered to loosen those little synapses up. In class last year, we had to write a story where the first word of each sentence was the next sequential letter in the alphabet. So the first sentence had to start with the letter, “A,” the next with the letter, “B,” etc. In other words, an alphabetical 26-sentence story. Continue reading

Me Slacker, You Slacker

Yes, I’m a slacker. I’m two weeks behind in posts. Granted, the last three weeks have been absolute chaos with school starting (both my own and my kids), back-to-back weekend travel (one of those weekends was in God’s country with no phone/internet), and the usual whirlwind that comes when your husband starts a new job (oh yeah…did I forget to mention? He’s got a new job and right now he’s working at home). So I’ve gotten a bit behind on posts.

However, I am pleased to announce that the group blog venture I’ve started with seven of my writing friends from the McDaniel Romance Writing Program has gone live! We call ourselves Eight Ladies Writing and we blog every day about writing, the writing life, and other related things. The girls I blog with are amazing…a great support group, good cheerleaders, and we all have our own unique stories that we’re trying to bring to the page.

So while I may fall off the wagon here every now and then (really, I’m going to try to get back on track, but I head to London in 9 days for the Jane Austen Festival and other sightseeing/research things with my Eight Ladies friend Jilly Wood, so I’m not sure how much I’ll accomplish between now and then), I promise to get back on as quick as possible. And in the meantime, you can see what seven other amazing women are doing, thinking, and writing.

Reading to Learn

Image credit: fmatte / 123RF Stock Photo

I have always been a voracious reader. My parents used to ground me to my room when I broke the rules, but I considered it the perfect form of punishment because it gave me hours of uninterrupted time to read and I read a lot.

As I moved into adulthood, my reading habits changed. A full-time job meant less nights I could spend staying up until 2 a.m. finishing off a riveting book, but I still read quite a bit, particularly when I traveled for work. Once I had kids, I still managed to devour a novel-length book or two a week, and they were almost exclusively romances. When you’re up to your arms in diapers and baby spit, a happy ending sure makes you feel good about the world for awhile…at least until the next diaper change.

But something very interesting happened to me when I started the McDaniel Romance Writing Program last year…I became a very discriminate reader. I mean veryContinue reading

Lucky Number 13

For me, lucky number 13 doesn’t refer to a racehorse, a hand in cards, or a Powerball number. Rather, it will forever be the year I attended my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, and the year my life changed.

In preparing for the conference as a First Timer, I read various blogs which included such sage advice as “wear comfortable shoes,” “introduce yourself to five new people every day,” and “prepare to be overwhelmed.” All excellent advice, to be sure, except the last. Strangely enough, I wasn’t overwhelmed, but energized. Excited. Determined. And my excitement and determination grew each day of the conference.

Everyone I met at RWA inspired me. I’m convinced Cathy Maxwell, this year’s keynote speaker, somehow channeled my brain when she was writing her speech.  She talked about her first conference. She knew only one other girl.  I knew just a few more than that. She left three small children at home in pursuit of her dream. I left two. When one of them got hurt and, crying, begged her to come home, she said she could not. Cathy told her daughter that being at the conference was something she had to do. I left at home a child with a nasty ear infection. Just as Cathy felt to the depth of her being that she could not leave, so did I. For the first time, I had found my calling and nothing, save a grave emergency, could pull me away.

I attended a variety of workshops, most of them focused on craft. I’ve been studying romance writing and fiction for the last ten months through the online Romance Writing program at McDaniel College in Maryland. A lot of what I’ve learned the last ten months was validated this past weekend. Some of the things I learned were new and I gladly added them to my writer’s toolkit.

The biggest take-away I got from the conference was a tremendous sense of confidence. It’s probably over-inflated, but I’ve never felt so sure that I will be successful, as long as I’m willing to put forth the work and effort; to continue learning and practicing my craft; to establish and cultivate a voice that is my own; and to bring wonderful stories to the page.

I’m anxious to get home and get writing. I can’t wait to finish my first draft, stand back, take a deep breath, and start revising.