Finding Ease When Things Get Difficult

Yet, again, I find myself taking a lesson from my yoga mat and applying it to the real world.

In yoga, we refer to Sthira/Sukha. How strength and softness can exist simultaneously. You can feel both the hardness of a pose and you can melt into it’s difficulty with breath. With softness. With ease. And, voila. You’re not struggling any more. Difficult pose…muscles not happy…and you’re just fine.

Well, I’ve taken this concept and brought it to my writing life. As a soon-to-be indie author, there is so much I’m learning. And, so much, I know I don’t know, as I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past.

One of the things which I was doing a very good job avoiding was marketing. And, while I know nothing about marketing, I know enough to understand I need a platform through which I can communicate with lovers of historical romance. Enter Facebook and Instagram.

The trouble is…I really struggled with how to go about it. I normally use these two platforms as ways of keeping abreast with the lives of my family and friends. Not for building an audience or a business.

I’m not a business executive. I have no idea how to do this or where to go! I’m just a woman with a book who thinks other people will enjoy reading.

So, I whittled my immense fear of marketing down to this simple and basic concept: I just want to meet people who love to read, write and discuss historical romance, whom might hopefully enjoy reading my book too!

It is a good place to start. The other marketing stuff will come when it is time for it to come. So far, I’m happy to say, I’ve met some lovely people on-line whom I hope will one day enjoy my book. In the meantime, I’m enjoying communicating with them and trading stories about our reading and writing journeys.

Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so hard. After all, it’s just about people. People reading and writing great historical romances. And, now I am one of those people.

Find me on Instagram @carynemme

Find me on Facebook Caryn Emme

Find me on Twitter Caryn_Emme

Hope to connect with you there too!

How to Choose What to do First?

I’ve entered a world I know nothing about. It completely brings to life what I learned in yoga teacher training not too long ago.

There is so much I don’t know. And, although on some days that makes me want to throw my hands up and give up. On most days, I remember that I am a work in progress and the work is learning. Constant learning.

I’ve come so far, I can’t possibly give up now.

I feel overwhelmed about where to put my focus with the precious morning hour or so that I give myself to work because the rest of the day is taken up by summer time activities with the family.

Do I blog? Work on social media connections? Keep formatting my book on Vellum? Keep writing book #2?

It’s A LOT!

Then I remind myself how I have approached this entire enterprise from the beginning. It’s supposed to be fun. I actually have enjoyed all of it. From writing the first draft all the way to editing the shit out of it that it’s lightyears away from the original – except the core of the plot has retained it’s integrity. Smile.

So, right now my main focus is formatting and figuring out how I’m going to get a professional looking cover.

Everything else comes after. Whenever I can squeeze it in.

How do you prioritize all the things with work? How do you decide what comes first and what can be squeezed in?

Every Little Bit Counts

Regardless of how much or how little is accomplished, I do something, anything, every day which gets me one step closer to my goal.

The list is long and it is absolutely a labor of love…of passion for writing and working on getting my work out into the world.

I could spend entire days after days on amping up my social media presence…preparing future blog posts…finishing the final read through of my present MS…completing the next MS in the series….

The truth is, I can’t.

I beg, borrow and steal time to chip away at this monumental dream I have of publishing my first novel. And, while some days feel like this is impossible…I may as well give up….on most days, I know I can’t.

Giving up would mean waking up in ten years and thinking why didn’t I just try? It would also mean a lot more sleep and time for my family…but I’m prepared to make sacrifices, to let go of the small things which need to be done in order to focus on this huge thing which needs to be done. For me. For my soul. For reaching readers who like me want romance set in the Regency which focuses on smart, whole hearted heroines and dashing, strong heroes – and, whom are both vulnerable and real.

I make a commitment every day to engage in action which will lead me to my goal – I write or edit or blog or tweet or post or research or simply manifest the day it happens and what it will be like.

One thing I know for sure – every little bit counts. The universe understands my goal and is in creation with me.

Capturing a Countess’ Heart will be in reader’s hands and I absolutely can’t wait for you to have it!

Calling Myself a Writer

I abandoned this blog for quite some time. I am a mother of two school-aged children, a wife, a high school teacher, and a woman on a journey of growth.

Amidst the many areas which demand my time, I spent any free minute I could find to finish my first historical romance – Capturing a Countess’ Heart.

Then I spent countless hours editing it and learning SO MUCH in the process…about historical romance…about writing…about myself.

My diligence was rewarded with a seven month period of working with an editor from Harlequin Historical. And, while Harlequin decided not to publish my work, it was the best learning experience I had.

I diverted from writing for a brief time while I pursued another goal of becoming a certified yoga instructor. And, I’m ecstatic to report that in two short months I will be a teacher of yoga (another passion of mine). It was precisely my yoga teacher training which led me to the crystal clear understanding that I cannot give up on my goal of publishing my work.

There are many walls in my way…I’m too old, I don’t have the social media presence, I know nothing about marketing, much less formatting a manuscript into a readable digital or paper copy book!

These are nothing but lies.

Part of my learning is being unapologetic about using my time for writing. For publishing. For becoming part of an on-line community in which I can interact with like-minded lovers of Historical Romance, readers and writers and bloggers!

But all of this requires just one thing in order for it to be accomplished. I need to call myself a writer.

So, here I am. Caryn Emme. Mother, wife, teacher, yogi, WRITER.

Let the publishing journey begin!

Snail’s Pace #AmWriting #Publishing

home-office-336377_640Becoming a writer has been a life-long dream. And, the thing is, I am a writer. An unpublished writer. Ugh.

I’ve blogged here and at Bookmarks. I’ve written short stories and a children’s novel.

More recently, I followed my heart and wrote what I love: a romance novel. A Regency to be exact. I have a shaky platform and virtually no writing credentials – at least none that publishing houses would take seriously.

So I have edited my manuscript, sculpted it by using every bit of research on editing I can find. And, I am so very proud of the final product.

Except, it’s as ready as I can make it. With numerous beta-reads, proof-reads, editing for continuity of character, plot, theme, setting and dialogue, there’s not much more I can do.

Now I face the prospect of publishing – which strangely enough has had me stuck for the past two months. I’ve used the excuse of summer holidays and busyness with the family to delay the inevitable. School’s back in. I’m working part-time – I have the time to see my dream through.

The choice now seems to send it off for more rejection letters OR perhaps, I will finally dive and tread my way through the self-publishing sea.

I believe it will be the latter for me.

Any advice?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

Avoiding Head Hopping – #Writing #Editing

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I thrive on knowing my characters deeply so I can better shape their story. Except, I end up writing the thoughts and reactions of almost all of my characters – simultaneously.

This is a big NO, NO and is referred to as head hopping.

Head hopping is when the narrative doesn’t remain within one character’s POV – but the scene moves from the perspective of all of the characters involved. Sometimes, in the midst of editing hell, I throw my arms up and think, isn’t that what the benefits of an omniscient narrator are?

Part of me becomes quite perplexed because I’ve read more than my fair share of romances where we get information from both of the romantic leads within the same scene – and I think, why does every piece of advice to writers out there include a finger wag at head hopping, meanwhile these very successful romance writers do it consistently throughout their novels?!? Frustrating, right?

I guess the saying that you have to know the rules before you can break the rules holds fast on this one.

As I write instalment two of my series and as I edit (again!) instalment one, these are some of the rules I’ve developed for myself to prevent the proverbial head hop:

  1. At the beginning of each chapter I must decide who will be the focus: hero or heroine. If heroine, I stick to writing only her thoughts and feelings.
  2. I make sure to note the hero’s reactions/feelings through the heroine’s eyes (and vice versa when the hero is the focus of a chapter)
  3. Rule #1 has meant cutting out entire portions of a chapter and refitting it into a later chapter where the POV changes to the other protagonist – or, sometimes, saying goodbye altogether to favourite pieces of prose regardless of the pain in my heart.
  4. Any interaction with a minor character must be experienced through the protagonist
  5. The feelings, changes in tone or body language of the minor characters must be perceived by the protagonist and the opinions of the minor character must be explicitly stated in dialogue.
  6. An omniscient narrator means access to every character’s thoughts & feelings, and brings those to light at the right time, not all at the same time.

So far, keeping these rules in mind has helped me to remain focused and each chapter has improved tremendously. Each chapter is stronger, feels tighter and I feel that the narrative voice confidently takes the reader through the story.

It’s worth looking at the amount of head hopping in your own writing and asking yourself if it is serving the story.

What techniques do you use to keep your POV focused?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

 

 

 

 

The Art of Stillness #Writing

In a world full of distractions, each seductively pulling our attention away from the things that are important to us, it becomes tantamount to find the strength to keep focused on our goals and dreams. And, it is even more important to keep focused on the present moment.

In the most purest of ways, it is only the present moment which matters. When we train ourselves to still our mind, we open ourselves to the abundance of creativity and sheer vibrance of life which exists in the universe.

I have finished my first manuscript, Capturing a Countess’ Heart. And am hoping for publication in the traditional form. If it doesn’t happen, then I will self-publish because I truly believe it is a story which readers of romance will love.

In the lull, I have been toying with  beginning draft one of book two in the series. I have been down on myself for not continuing on with my blogs. I have allowed the busyness of life take over: children, career, marriage, friends, home etc.

I wasn’t happy. I am happiest when my hands are on the keyboard giving birth to the whirlwind of words encircling my mind. I just couldn’t find my focus.

Then I enrolled in Power Yoga Canada’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution. My yoga studio is a haven for me. I find peace the moment I enter, and when we begin a class in Supta or Child’s Pose, my entire being releases onto the mat and I breathe the busyness of my day out. And, for 60 minutes, I think of nothing. Nothing but syncing my movements to my breathe. Nothing but flowing.

What I learned through these 40 Days was the beauty of meditation. I didn’t meditate regularly, or for long periods of time. But, I have felt a tremendous change in my focus with the meditation I have accomplished. I will keep meditating and I will allow the abundance of the universe help me, guide me, still me.

I will also bring this into my writing. The stillness will bring the words forward – without worry, without fuss. It’s a beautiful thing.

I am ready to start draft one of book two (and very excited to do so). I am ready to begin the publishing process for book one too – with a publisher or on my own.

Stillness. It’s where your words are found.

How do you prepare for writing your next novel, short story, poem, blog post, journal entry? What inspires and prepares you to write from your true self?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

 

 

Rejection

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I receive a rejection letter which makes my heart sing.

I have complete and utter faith in my novel.

I am on a journey of learning about my craft unlike anything I have ever experienced.

So when the rejection letter reads to take heart because my voice shows potential, I am elated.

I receive detailed editorial feedback and am encouraged to re-submit my project.  A major publishing house recognizes in my manuscript, a novel worth publishing.

While I know there are more rejection letters to come and the publishing world is fierce, I also know the option to self-publish is always present.

I will keep perfecting this MS and start on the next instalment of my series because I cannot wait for the day I finally get to share it with all of you.

Caryn Emme Sign Off

How to Plot Your Romance Novel #amwriting

Every word counts.  I tend to skim and skip passages when I feel the plot of a novel is not moving.  So I try to put myself in my future reader’s shoes (or, eyes) and make every effort to ensure the plot is not stagnant.

My notes as an English teacher inspired me, as did the blog of author Nikki Owen, to use the tried and true plot graph in order to achieve this goal.

PLOT

For an explanation of each plot point see: how-to-plot-a-novel

Please note, I used this method once I had a very good understanding of my protagonists’ motivations and backstory, not before.  Knowing my heroine and hero first helped me to plot their story.

The following steps might help you organize all of the wonderful ideas buzzing inside your head:

  1. In point form, list the main ideas of your novel
  2. Then, use the graphic above to plan where the main ideas should fall
  3. In point form, on the triangle, write down what will happen at each plot point in the novel.
  4. Then repeat this process for each chapter – draw a triangle, label the plot points, then write what will happen in the chapter at each plot point.  This will ensure you have a clear goal for each chapter which includes a climax and a way to flow into the next chapter. (NOTE: ensure to use only the front of the page, keep the back blank for notes later on)
  5. And voila!  Novel done.  Haha!  Kidding – if only it were that easy 😉  You won’t have a finished novel, but you will have a clear outline of each chapter when you sit down to write.  And, since each chapter has been outlined on a separate sheet of paper, you may reorganize the chapters before you start writing.

In order to accomplish the above I bought a cheap notebook to keep my ideas together:

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I found that this process helped me to stay focused during precious writing time (which is hard to obtain with marriage, career and children).  Also when other ideas came to me as I wrote I could jot them down on the blank side of the page.  If it was an idea which didn’t fit into the chapter or the novel as a whole, I was able to set it aside (after writing it down of course) for future books.

I hope this helps you on your writing journey!  Please remember, every writer has her or his own process and this might not work with your style.

I’d love to know how other writers plan and plot out their works.  What do you do when you start to write a novel?

Caryn Emme Sign Off

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