Let’s talk Clean Romance| Writing Fiction

Do you enjoy reading clean and wholesome romance? I’m writing one. It’s a holiday romance inspired by my love of cheesy Hallmark movies around the holidays. There’s nothing religious about any aspect of my book, just a fun, heart-warming journey and romance that occurs in the life of my protagonist. Growing up in a very Christmas oriented household, the Holidays were a big deal. From family parties to amazing food, and decorations. But since I’m a total borefest as an adult, I channel the fuzzy end of year feeling by writing about it.

I’ve had this concept for over a year and I did start to work on it in 2016. But, as you know my projects are all left hanging for some reason or the other. During the last month, I’ve spent tens of thousands of words rewriting the first two chapters. I’ve gone from really happy and excited to having self doubt and losing all motivation, but I continue to push harder because if I don’t write, I’ll wither and die.

The funny thing with turning most of the situations and people in my life into stories and characters, is writing in a specific genre. Romance is a hard one for me to write, and I’ll cover that later on. Writing a romantic suspense or something that borderlines on women’s fiction is what I’d call “my romance”. While some of my characters are pretty flawed and foul-mouthed, the ones in this book are so sweet they can give you a toothache. That isn’t to say someone somewhere isn’t selfish or doing something distasteful. But there’s no way I can taint this story. No matter which way I’ve been rewriting it, it’ll always be a clean romantic story.

What kind of a writer are you? I do get an idea first, but my characters paint the story.

xo Kat

How I Outline My Novel

There are a few different effective and straightforward methods to outline a novel, however, I do it in my own way. Recently I’ve seen some questions pop up about outlining novels so I thought I’d break down the way I do it since it seems simpler to me, and in another post, I will discuss the other methods thoroughly.

I think my way of doing it is very close to the snowflake method but as you learn more about it, you’ll see that I don’t stick to it fully. I just want to let you know that even though there are actual methods and names for them, there is no wrong way you can do this. Whatever works for you will be best for you. As writers of fiction, things are almost always jumbled and coming to us rapidly and out of nowhere so we tend to note this down all over. From notepads, to phones, to different apps and software. You name it, we’ve written on it.

So without further ado, let’s get into it….

STEP 1

I would call this your idea phase. You know that moment when an idea hits you but it’s only a sentence long? This is just step one. Fun fact about Kat: I used to begin writing with just that first idea and it was horrible. I found myself being stuck more than usual. This is where you’re going to brainstorm. Write down all of the ideas, thoughts, characters, names, whatever contribution you have to bring to this novel, just write them down. It doesn’t have to be in specific order. It doesn’t even have to make sense at this point.

STEP 2

Now that you have all of your ideas down it’s time to really think about the main plot of your story. An idea can go anywhere whether it’s romance, suspense, thriller or a mixture of genres. Try writing a summary of what you’d like your story to be about.

STEP 3

Create character profiles. I’ll briefly explain here how I do this as I plan to create an entire post to help with character profiling. This takes some work, some critical thinking. Not only are you going to name your characters, you’re going to create a description of their physical attributes as well as what they do and what they stand for. For example, if your character’s name is Sophia and Sophia has long blonde hair, green eyes etc etc Then you’ll need to add to Sophia before you start writing. What does Sophia do? How does Sophia think or react? Does Sophia have a shy persona or is she outgoing? What are her likes, dislikes, boundaries.

STEP 4

I’d recommend naming and explaining as much characters as you can at this point. The main ones, their family members(if they have a part in the story). While writing you’ll most likely add characters or omit characters. Have no fear, these changes are doable and nothing is set in stone. Having a base of characters gives you ammo to write with so along with your main plot and setting, you can write something without having to stop every few paragraphs.

STEP 5

I should have mentioned setting earlier but here’s why I left it out until now. During your summary stage, you would have most likely mentioned the location or setting in which your book takes place. Let’s call stage five, research. Whatever you want to put into your novel and you feel like you need to know more about it, get on google and research the heck out of it. Look for pictures of places, houses etc You can save them for later use, or you can just makes notes as your description comes to life in your head. Another thing you want to research is jobs functions, weather of a particular location etc. Anything that you feel you need help with in creating a better summary.

STEP 6

Summary number two! So now that you have all of this information, write a complete summary with the added details of your characters and settings.

STEP 7

What you’ll do from here is expand your summary. Don’t get rid of any of your earlier work by the way. Expand your current summary. Add your sub plots or scenes as I call them. Any specific quote or line you need to place somewhere, add it all in. You can redo this as much as you need to in order to create your desired outline.

STEP 8

When you feel like everything makes sense, start writing. Having this guide will help you to write on days that you’re uninspired or lost because you’ll know what’s going to take place. Even if you get stuck take a time out and then get back into it. Remember this is only the first draft and another fun fact: My first drafts are often horrible and written very poorly with a few brilliant things in between. Patience is virtue when it comes to writing. Take your time, try to finish that first draft even if you’re not completely satisfied. Anything can be corrected, omitted and modified later on.

I hope this made any sense at all and I hope it helps you in your writing process. Good luck!

xo Kat

 

The Secret Life of A Writer

As a self-published author, and someone who’s starting with no strings in the business, I lead a double life. Until date I have hidden my writing projects and determination to be the best writer I can be from the majority of people I know, family members and peers.

My reasons for writing anonymously doesn’t have anything to do with insecurity or fear of rejection. As writers, it’s a benefit to yourself and your craft to actually get negative feedback. It helps you learn, it helps you improve.

My secret author life is not so secret anymore though. I’ve met some awesome and supportive people online who are basically in the same boat as I am. It’s been great to connect with my tribe you know, but there is still that darkness that haunts me when someone asks me what I do.

As it is, I don’t get paid for writing books, something I hope to change soon. My previous self-published projects only garnered a few dollars over the past year. For this reason only, I bite my tongue when I’m about to say to someone, “I’m a writer.”

I feel like hardworking, unpublished writers like myself aren’t taken very seriously until we land a publishing deal. So it’s not something I broadcast to each and everyone. Here are some of the reasons why I live this secret life:

Why are you so busy?

Having two kids, running errands, making sure everything is organized and writing makes me a busy gal. I don’t socialize much(not by choice, I just don’t know anyone) and I am home ninety-five percent of my life. People often have the impression that I sit down and watch TV all day while my kids are on tablets. This isn’t the case but I don’t say different. It’s hard to tell people I write most of the night, when I wake up in the morning my book is on my mind and I can’t wait to get to it. It’s hard to tell people I’m always writing down ideas or even parts of my book in a notebook or on my phone, whatever is available to me while I use the bathroom, in between cooking, in between homeschooling my kids.(My oldest attends school, we just do academic activities during school breaks).

People just don’t understand your drive, your thirst for writing. They don’t understand that sometimes you do it because it’s natural to you, it’s how you live, it’s what you love.

Oh, you’re a writer…what do you write?

uhhhh romance….uhhhh with sexy times. It’s hard to belt that one out. The look on the person’s face just screams, “Stay at home mom writing her teenage fantasies.” And then you’re back to being laughed at or not taken seriously. People expect you to be a JK Rowling or George Martin in one go. I promise you I don’t only write romance. It’s just what I’m comfortable with writing right now.

You’re still writing that book? 60,000 words isn’t much!

People who don’t write or even read for that matter don’t understand how much work, effort and time needs to be put in for a proper manuscript. Writing the first draft is the smallest task actually. These things take time especially when you have to give up sleep or something else to find that time to write. It isn’t easy and if you do it or have done it, give yourself a big ole’ pat on the back.

Wow you actually know what you’re talking about!

Okay so I got this one concerning my blog. I have to say I was taken aback. When you tell people you blog or write, they assume because they know you personally, you don’t know how to write professional and profess shock when they read something of yours. Did you not think I was smart enough? Or capable enough?

It’s all of the above really. I like writing anonymously, I like writing for readers, or critics even but I don’t write to attract negativity from the wrong sources. This my friends is why I lead a double life!

xo Kat

 

Mistakes I Made As a Writer

Since I have started working on book length stories, my knowledge and experience of the writing process has broadened significantly. When I started out with writing books, my basic process was to just start writing with one small idea I had at the time with barely any concept. I just had an idea, basic knowledge of my characters and I started to write. I found myself being stuck a lot along the way, that thing they called writer’s block. It would frustrate me to no end as to why I can’t just write my story and finish it despite having an idea of what I wanted to convey.

I took a break for a couple of months from working on a book, and I utilized that time to really study my craft and work on myself as a writer. Here are some of the mistakes that I made when I first decided to pursue writing books.

No Outlining

To be honest, I didn’t even know about outlining as a strategic way of writing a book. I had a notebook and I wrote down ideas and pieces of my story and I basically tried not to over do it, thinking that it was very incompetent of me to outline an entire book. I was both surprised and excited when I heard of well established authors doing this. Bear with me here, I was a total noob to this entire writing books thing. Previously, I had only done poetry and short stories for self fulfillment that I never let anyone else read.

Not outlining my story was a bad approach for me, and since then I have found it to help me write on days that I am not even inspired. When you have your lay out, you at least know what you want to say even if it’s first draft material.

Lack of Patience

When I first heard of self publishing, I was elated. I still believe that I am a novice writer, and I don’t think I have the confidence to pitch my book to any agent or publishing house so I felt like maybe this self-publishing route was a good one for me. As it was, I read a lot of great self-published books on Kindle, some of which are my favorite reads til date.

So I mustered the courage to actually begin writing the story in my head. Writing takes time, it’s a long process to have a completed manuscript, one that you’re satisfied with. Again, I saw prolific writers on Kindle just releasing book after book and often self-doubted myself as a writer. We all do at some point but I had days when I just felt like maybe I’m pursuing the wrong thing and that really affected me because the only thing I can say with confidence that I know how to do is write. Writing for me is living.

Underdeveloped characters

In my head my characters are well thought out. I am constantly always thinking of my stories and characters and it builds itself as time goes by. I do write down a lot of what I’ve come up with but when I read over my written work, I realize I need to personalize and give my characters more depth. If I didn’t learn how to do this, they would all sound the same. So it’s a matter of being one writer with many different stories to tell, and you have to fit yourself into many different hats/shoes. You need to spend more time with your characters, understanding their lives, their stories, their likes or dislikes, their jobs etc.

Rushed Content

This might come into play with my other points. Like I was saying previously, lack of patience invites rushed writing. In the desperation to have a finished book, my story and characters weren’t fleshed out enough. I felt like it was more a description of things, people and places, than a connection as a reader of my own work.

Too Much Telling, Not Enough Showing

This is a little tricky. Why do I say that? Because I’ve seen established authors do it. I’ve learned to correct my own essays in elementary school so when I read, I come across things that I feel should’ve been edited in a different fashion. It really interrupts the story for me but it is a learning curve. The best way to write, is to first be a reader.

It’s important to convey your characters thoughts and feelings not so directly to your readers. Readers are smart people, let’s not underestimate them. They can get bored and fall out of love with your writing before you can even blink. As an example, let’s talk about anger. Throughout the book, you wouldn’t want to repeat yourself like a broken record saying, “This person is angry” or “This person is furious.” A more comfortable way in writing the same feeling over and over is to describe what’s going on with your character. For instance, “She grips the edge of her seat until her knuckles go white.” Pardon my generic sentences, I couldn’t come up with anything else at this point.

A Thousand Rewrites

Frankly, I still do this and this is why I stress on outlining at least your basic idea before writing. Read over your outline and makes changes before you begin to write. Make sure you’re satisfied with what you have for a first draft. Anything else can be modified, fixed, added, chopped in your second revision.

Self-doubt

Even the best writers have self-doubt. I still doubt myself, and feel like I will be the laughing stock of the nation if someone actually reads what I’ve written. Previously I mentioned that I never showed my work to another human. Writing is me, I am writing. It’s how I truly feel. I want to be an author so badly, that I can taste it. If I give up writing, it would be like giving up a huge fraction of what makes me, me. Even though you self-doubt, there are avenues to make you feel better and comfortable as a writer. If you want it bad enough, don’t let anything stop you.

These are the main things that affected me as a novice writer. I’ve seen people ask questions relating to all of these so I thought I’d put together a post to share my experiences with writing. 

xo Kat

 

 

 

My Poetry Story & a Poem for my Preschooler

When I started writing, I began with poetry. I felt things so deeply as a child, teenager and the words would roll off my fingertips in the most expressive way ever. It remains one of the best ways that I could create something from within, although I haven’t been doing it for about a decade. Recently I’ve been focusing on stories and hopefully I can complete a book to my satisfaction in the near future. The other day, my preschooler had this project where the parents were asked to write how special their child is to them. I felt it robotic and generic to say things like…(insert name) is special because she is a good kid or I love the fun we have together. I felt it meaningless coming from my mouth so as I was about to write it, these words came to me and they sort of rhymed. Two lines of this poem was taken from an old birthday card my parents gave to me and it had remained with me since so I’m just putting it out there that it’s not my own. I will make those words bold. 

To begin the day with your smile,
Is a treasure from above,
You’re our pride and joy and laughter,
You fill our hearts with love.
We love you from the tip of your nose,
To the tip of your toes,
And with each passing moment,
It’s a blessing to see you grow.
You make our lives more special,
With all your laughter and hugs,
You’ll always be our baby girl,
Our little cuddly bugs.

xo Coffee Doll. All rights reserved.

 

Why I don’t do Valentine’s Day

heart-762564_640When people hear me say that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I usually get frowns and smirks. Automatically that person thinks maybe she’s being sour because she’s all alone on Valentine’s Day or maybe her partner just doesn’t love her that much. I’ve heard women speak, and yes, even Valentine’s Day is a competition. It’s sometimes about whose significant other is more romantic, and it can be seen all over social media on February 14th.

I’ve went through different phrases of Valentine’s Day and most of them were spent like a normal day and I’ll share why in a bit. I’m not sure how the entire world celebrates Valentine’s Day but on this side of the globe, we’re conditioned from a very young age in believing that love should be celebrated in some extravagant way on this day. We’re made to feel that if the day isn’t spent  with “over-the-top” romance, then it’s a failure. We put so much effort into making this day special for our significant others, and we also set the expectation bar very high.

As a teenager, I saw a lot of female peers getting pampered and taken out on fancy dinners on this day and I’d always wondered what that felt like. When it was my turn to receive those cuddly bears and fattening chocolates, there was a certain anticipation. After I experienced a typical Valentine’s Day, it eventually turned February 15th and I asked myself…what was the point of that?

Giving it some thought, I finally derived what was the true meaning of Valentine’s Day. It’s part of our culture and it’s also a monumental commercial season. I won’t get into the marketing aspects of how little pink and red things get sold around Valentine’s Day to make someone feel special for five minutes, but I will say…aren’t you in love for the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year? Why do we limit love to just one day? And if you surprise your partner on other days, then why the need to promote romance on this one particular day?

Whenever I think of love…I have it, unconditionally at all times and I’m talking about parental love, love from family, friends, pets, etc. Whenever I think of candies and chocolates, I don’t want anymore. I’m diabetic and my kids are still developing teeth but it won’t stop my spouse from bringing it home every other day. I’m sure most of us go on dinners, outings, trips all year around so pardon me if I can’t fully comprehend what differentiates February 14th from all the other days of the year. I’d still love to hear how this day affects you and your partner, and why, and maybe put together a post on it.

xoxo Coffee Doll

Image: pixabay.com

A Day in the Life of a Diabetic Part 2

It’s seven a.m. and I’m faced with a dilemma. To eat or not to eat. I roll of the bed and start moving around. I look at the clock and it’s suddenly 7:18 a.m. I accomplish nothing important in eighteen minutes.

I’m thinking again, do I have a cup of coffee or do I risk a dizzy spell and get my preschooler to school early. I could never be one of those sprightly morning people, yet I do love getting things done early. My day seems to fit better.

I decide against the coffee before school drop off, and wake my four year old. I duck into the kitchen to warm milk for the baby before I wake her up. It saves me some wailing if it’s ready and waiting when she wakes up. I walk back into the kids’ bedroom and my firstborn is still fast asleep, ignoring my soft voice telling her it’s time to get ready for school.

I’m astonished that I’m not yet falling apart as I’ve had about three hours rest the night before. The younger child is totally unpredictable and it often weighs on my sanity. My body is moving around briskly and efficiently this morning, and I don’t want to think too hard of it in fear I jinx myself.

Twenty minutes until we leave the house and one child is half ready. My stomach isn’t churning which I’m grateful for and I have the energy of someone two hours before bedtime.

I’m usually perspiring at this time and tend to under-dress even though it’s below zero outside. It’s a windy morning and I don’t wear any extra clothing underneath my coat. I load everyone up in the double stroller and proceed to the preschool which stands a couple blocks from our house. I skid quite a bit this morning. Four days ago we had a snow day and as per usual, the lackadaisical residents of my city don’t shovel snow the way it’s suppose to be shoveled.

My hand is both numb and burning from the iciness in the air. The baby starts crying as the icy wind cuts into her delicate face and hands. I’ve tried to keep gloves on her but to no avail, she keeps ripping them off. Most days I don’t realize because I’m focused on the journey to and from school.

There’s four flights of stairs to climb, with a twenty-five pound toddler on one arm. I sigh and curse the day I signed my child up for this school. There is an elevator, which is only used for kitchen services. Humans with their own free will still take it, as do I on days that I physically can’t make the stairs. But there’s a woman at the school, a villain in my day. I dread running into her because I sometimes wish to use the elevator but she flies into my face and it reminds me of a bat opening it’s wings. Then she spews her venom and accuse me of not understanding a basic sign in English.

I want to retaliate in my best vocabulary and irritated tone but I decide against arguing with fools in a children’s environment. She isn’t worth my effort, especially when it’s taking me all of my will power and physicality to stay standing at this point. I hurriedly lead my child to her classroom and want to shout, “Yay!” Half of the hassle is over with. Now to descend those vicious stairs in which I fear my toddler will catapult into the air.

I huff and I puff and make my way down the stairs with my wriggling toddler sitting on my burning forearm. I can feel the heat emanating from my body and being trapped beneath my jacket. My hairline is slightly drenched and I wish to be out in the open where it’s cold. The heat of my body makes me want to pass out.

When I open the door to exit the school, the biting coldness makes it’s way through my skull and my brain stops for a split second. My eyes can’t focus on any one thing for too long. I tell myself, one way home, no detours. Coffee, breakfast and medicines.

xo

© Coffee Doll All Rights Reserved

 

 

Day in the Life of a Diabetic Part 1

The alarm goes off and I groan softly, dreading the energy that my body needs to muster in order to lift myself off the bed. I swipe my phone screen to check the time and I realize I have fifteen more minutes before actual wake time.

“Ah,” my inner voice sounds pleased, “The Universe is on my side today.”

I let my head fall to the pillow once more and fifteen minutes feels like fifteen seconds.

“Oh alright,” I groan, swinging my half-sleeping legs across the edge of the bed. Eyes burning and heavy, I move my feet around and slip them into my fuzzy slippers. It’s a cold morning, just like the morning before and the one before that. And I wonder the same thing that I do everyday. Is the heat even on?

I hear a soft whimper coming from the baby’s crib. I want to go and check on her, and bring a hot cup of milk to her. Morning milk is a baby’s coffee, truly. The little creatures scream frantically until it’s brought to them. There is a small window in which I walk past her bed to get her cup of milk where her soft whimpers transitions into a wail.

I’m fatigued, after a night’s rest. My stomach is lurching in all directions and I feel something that resembles a dizzy spell. I take two steps in the direction of the baby then stop myself. I need to relieve my bladder of the painful pressure, for if I don’t, I might have an accident.

After relieving myself, I want to quickly rush into the kitchen for that cup of milk for my crying lamb but I need my eyes. No, not the ones in my head. The ones that help the ones in my head see. A piece of plastic, worth more than a month’s grocery and also worth my vision. I need it to show me a definition of what I hold in my hand, of where I’m going. Every morning when I put it on, I decide this piece of plastic brings more value to me than any piece of jewelry ever can.

Note: I originally planned to do a post on a diabetic’s struggles from day to day, somehow it ended up like this….to be continued…

xo Coffee Doll

 

Bouts of Writer’s Block and Incomplete Novels

journal-1577764_1280.pngSo it’s been almost a year since I started working on novellas(short novels). Till date I haven’t been able to publish much, and I feel like crap about it. It seems like I’m not working or I’m lazy but the truth is, I lose sleep over this. Despite not being able to self publish more than a few books on kindle, I am always working. My brain never stops and it’s exhausting.

My writing gets put on the back burner because I have parental priorities and other family type stuff to do. I know I should demand time to work, but I really can’t as I have absolutely no one to help me with the kids, and I cannot afford a babysitter or child care. So yes, my writing suffers due to being tired all the time, physically and mentally.

I often call it writer’s block but it’s just plain old exhaustion. I have many ideas and I’m always brainstorming them. I’m writing in my head all the time and sometimes it’s so intense that I leave it in a voice note on my phone or just write it down wherever I can find a piece of paper and pen. I am dedicated, and very passionate about telling my stories, unfolding the characters that came to life in my mind but….and there’s always a but…I need more time in a day.

I leave my house unattended at times and let the kids go wild in front of the TV just to get some work done and then I get stuck. I sit and stare at a blank page on my screen, typing out a few words then backspacing it. And I feel so horrible about myself. I keep saying I know I can do this, I have to be able to do this. All jobs are taxing and challenging and I view my writing as that. Challenge is good, it means I’ll learn something. What pisses me off the most is the fact that I’m always in a hurry to get things done around the house and with the kids so I can sit and let my thoughts flow through my fingers as I type away but when the time comes for me to do it…I am so damned tired.

I try to be as organized as I can be, truly but how do I keep up?

I think I’m very bad at plotting a good story. My stories usually gets sparked by an idea or a character that I’ve shaped in my head and from there it grows. Obviously the characters will have a story to tell and also there are always specific dialogues or situations that needs to be put into a story of mine. Without that particular thing, the story wouldn’t work, at least not the way I’m telling it.

So I know the beginning and I know the ending. I also know the conflicting and resolving parts, however while writing the novel, ideas about the story or characters begin to change. And then I have to change something, and then another thing needs to change. I completely loathe this about myself. Last night I reviewed two half written scripts of mine and decided I’m going to fix them and finish them once and for all and do you know what happened? Well for one I got tired and wanted to sleep and secondly, it appeared to be too much to fix. I forgot why I wanted to tell those stories anyway.

I don’t know if this is really block or not but it’s definitely something. Today is a new day, it’s also a long weekend. I wish myself luck on what I’m going to work on. Right now I’m going to start with a cup of coffee. Aahh! The best way to start anything right?

xo Coffee Doll

Image: pixabay.com