Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To Nanowrimo or not to Nanowrimo...

Now THAT truly is the question.

For the uninitiated, NANOWRIMO is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month, an annual event that takes place every year in November.  During NANOWRIMO, writers sit down and write for 30 days, allowing themselves to write badly so long as they hit their word count.  At the end of the 30 days, if you've worked religiously, you will have completed a 50,000 word novel.

I've done this several years, but this year, I'm asking myself whether or not I want to join the movement.  Here's the pros and cons:

CON:To reach the 50K goal, I'd need to write about 1660 words a day
I'd need to start from scratch with a new idea and I already have 13 novels waiting to be finished
I can't edit as I write (this is tough for me)
I'd need to write every day, and so far, that hasn't happened for me.

Participating in NANOWRIMO might help me to make it a habit to write daily.
There's a lot of support from other writers participating in NANOWRIMO.
I'd have to learn to give myself permission to write badly, knowing I'd edit it when done, not stop the novel momentum now.
If I manage to turn off my internal editor, I could be more productive

At the end of the month, I'd have a complete novel.

Decisions, decisions.  Clock is ticking.  I have just 6 days to decide!

~ Stephanie

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I’ve Always Wanted To Write A Book!

If you’re just starting to write or always wanted to try it or even if you're already working on your first (or fifth) novel, I encourage you to attend the Grand Rapids Regional Writers' Group conference this coming weekend at the Riverfront Radisson.
The conference is being sponsored by a great group of writers form all backgrounds and genres, and will give you a chance to meet many published authors, local writers, and even the opportunity to talk to and pitch your book ideas to an agent and several editors.  The keynote speaker for the event is multi-published author, Jacqueline Carey (author of the Kushiel series and the new Santa Olivia series and many other titles), who will speak at lunch.

 Here’s a look at what is being offered:
“I’ve Always Wanted To Write A Book!” Conference Schedule
Saturday, October 22, 2011 at the Riverfront Radisson, 270 Ann Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI

9:30 – 10:15
Room 1 – Using Relaxation Techniques to Boost Productivity – Dr. Sandra Portko
Room 2 – Writing Effective Queries – editor Michele Paulin, author Tanya Eby and author Sidney Ayers
Room 3 – Writing Mysteries – author Maris Soule

10:30 – 11:15
Room 1 – Writing Erotica and Erotic Romance – authors: Abigail Barnette, Temple Hogan, Mia Watts, Suzanne Graham and Bronwyn Green
Room 2 – Making the Most of Your Writing Time – author: Margaret Yang
Room 3 – Author Branding – author: Tanya Eby

11:30 – 1:00
Lunch and Keynote Speaker, author Jacqueline Carey

1:15 – 2:00
Room 1 – Writing Romance – Lisa Childs
Room 2 – Why the Genre You Write Matters as Much as What You Write – R.A. Evans
Room 3 – Everything You Need to Know about E-books- Margaret Yang, Temple Hogan, Abigail Barnette and Suzanne Graham

2:15 – 3:00
Room 1 – Trends in Young Adult Fiction – Tess Grant and Aaron Thomas
Room 2 – What a Character! – Harry Campion
Room 3 – Authors Behaving Badly – Jennifer Armintrout and Bronwyn Green

3:15 – 4:00
Room 1 & 2 – Q & A with Literary Agent Michelle Grajkowski and Editor Michele Paulin

4:30 – 6:00
Rooms 1, 2 and 3 Author Book Signing - open to the general public

It promises to be a great day and I hope we see you there!

Keep writing,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Now Available At Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Dr. Peggy Oster is a Professor of Psychology at a small university in Kansas.  She likes the life she's built for herself there and is looking forward to a summer with nothing more pressing to do than indulge in her secret passion: watching old movies and classic sitcoms.

However, all that changes when Robert Reynolds, a colleague who bears a striking resemblance to Michael J. Fox, challenges her to add some paranormal psych classes to the school's fall catalogue.

After reading an old leather-bound book on the subject, Peggy embarks on an adventure in a strange world that's populated with celebrity lookalikes, mythological creatures, and a royal court that mistakenly assumes Peggy is a doctor of medicine.

There's even more Trouble in Paradys when the handsome-but-inept magician, Xandro, returns to the castle just in time to hear the king give Peggy his job as Court WizardIt all makes for one summer vacation Peggy is unlikely to ever forget. 

Trouble in Paradys by Stephanie Michels is a paranormal romance from HEA Publications available soon for Amazon Kindle.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The First Day of the Best of My Life

Okay, I never thought it would happen, but I finally did it.  After 32-1/2 years working at the same company, I gave my notice, handed in my security badge and took my early retirement.  Wow!

I've been working full time since just before graduation from high school.  I took a few weeks off with each of my kids, and then it was right back to it.  When I moved here in 1979, I started working for my last employer and never left. 

Looking back on it, I realize I've spent more than 1/2 my live working there.  That's a shock!  I don't really regret the years -- I made a lot of friends there and got to try a lot of new things and learn new skills...but wow! Half my life???  I think it's long past time for me to follow my dreams.

Life is too short not to choose to be happy, and my bucket list is waiting.  Retiring might not have been the soundest financial decision I've ever made, but I am the master of my Fate and this is MY decision.  So I will take off my shoes and walk in the sand, stay up late writing or sleep in if I choose, and I'll look for fun in everything I do.

Wishing you sunshine and the realization of your dreams,

Saturday, March 12, 2011


There's a tongue-in-cheek saying being bandied about work lately that has to do with all the projects that are thrown at us each week-slash-day.   

Deadlines: I love the sound they make as they go rushing past my head.

Oddly enough, I actually love deadlines.  I know it's weird but I do.  It's kind of like the old TV game show, "Beat the Clock" (yeah, I know, I'm really showing my age on that one) where contestants rush around trying to finish a challenge in an allotted time span.  Knowing the clock is ticking away makes them work faster and maybe more creatively.

I view deadlines as mini-challenges.  And I plain out and out LOVE challenges. I always have.  Whether it is a term paper in school, a financial project at work, the one-minute pressure of my favorite computer game or cleaning the house before company arrives, knowing the clock is ticking away gives me a specific goal to work toward.  It makes me work faster, smarter, and more focused.  

It's one of the things I love about my writers' group.  Each month, you set a goal or goal that you intend to finish by the next month's meeting.  It's a self-imposed deadline the members of our group set for themselves.  Some are big goals (finishing a certain number of words or sending a book off to a publisher); others are small goals.  But each goal, large or small is writing-related and gets us closer to where we want to be.  At the next meeting, we announce whether or not we've hit these goals, and it is inspiring to hear the high percentage of goals that are accomplished.

The winter writing challenge I mentioned last month is another challenge. It was a HUGE deadline looming ahead of me.  Thirty-two thousand words in 28 days?!  Yikes!  That's like scaling Mt. Everest after the puny amount of words I've been turning out each month.  But it was a goal and a challenge to this deadline-loving gal.  So was the fact that I'd have to pay a buck for each thousand words that I fell short.  So, last month, I started writing with gusto, got side-lined temporarily then picked up the pace again.

I wrote like crazy all week, coming home from work and spending the evening in front of the computer.  I wrote more that half the total needed in since Saturday.  Last night, when I headed to bed, I'd finished 32,433 words!  Sure, they aren't beautiful, polished prose -- that will come later in revisions -- but they have built the framework and action of my story.  The euphoria almost kept me from sleeping!

So I love deadline.  I work well on pressure.  I love the adrenalin-charged pace as a deadline looms closer.  It fuels me with energy and strengthens me to ignore distractions and focus on that single task. At least that's what I tell myself.

Maybe I'm just a procrastinator.  What do you think?

~ Stephanie

Friday, February 11, 2011

Permission Granted

A few years back, Chris Baty started a wonderful, kick-in-the-butt writing movement to challenge folks to write a book in 30days. The movement, called NANOWRIMO (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.

Participants traditionally begin writing on November 1 and the goal is to write 50,000 words (approximately a 175-page novel) by midnight on November 30. It’s a wild month of literary (and I use that word loosely) abandon that every writer should experience at least one.

However, in my writers’ group, once is NEVER enough, so we issue a second challenge in the spring of the year. Our members bring their laptops – or sharpened pencils and note pads – to our February meeting, and we kick off a 30-day challenge ending in March. We call it our Winter NaNoWriMo. 

So, how the heck do you write an entire novel – or even 175 pages – in a month? Well the trick to NanoWriMo is to put a premium on your enthusiasm and creativity. To do this, you need to break a lot of traditional writing rules.

Plan to write garbage – This writing challenge is all about spewing out words not literary masterpieces. In the 30-day November challenge, you need to output 1666 words a day. In a shorter 28 day challenge, the number is around 1786 words. This is not about polished prose – that can come later, or not. This month is about writing. So give yourself permission to write garbage.

Send your inner editor on a month-long vacation - If you’re like me, you have a writing assistant-slash- demon residing in your head. It’s the infamous Inner Editor. Ms. (or Mr.) Inner Editor can be your friend when getting a book ready for submission. However, during NaNoWriMo, she is an albatross around your neck. Send her on vacation (or throw her overboard) and “just say no” to her screaming demands to be allowed back into your head.

Write, write, write - Because of the limited writing-time window, the only thing that should matter to you now is output. It's about quantity, not quality. If you get stuck for the right word or a research fact just put a note in brackets for yourself (EXAMPLE [insert FBI fact on uniforms here]). Don't worry about paragraph structure or perfect grammar or word repetitions.  Just write on the fly.  This kamikaze approach to output allows you to barrel forward.

DO NOT – REPEAT, DO NOT EDIT – Just let the words fly. Now is not the time for subtlety or the best possible phrasing. It’s about word count and moving forward. If you move fast to the moment when you can write “The End, “ you’ll have corralled that story you’ve always wanted to write.

Finishing a book is a heady rush. You’ll feel empowered to leap tall buildings in a single bound or go out and conquer the world. Relish the feeling, wallow in it, cherish it. It’s who you are – a writer.

Why not write along as we start tomorrow? Experience the thrill yourself.

Happy writing,

PS - Remeber, don’t worry about the quality of what you write. When it’s done, you can go back and flesh it out, add subtle nuances, character descriptions, and dialogue polish. By then, Ms. Inner Editor will be back from her vacation and more than ready to tell you what to do.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Happy 2011!  

Wow, wasn't it just yesterday that we were all worried about the Y2K bug?  All that worry and all that nonsense for what amounted to be a lot of nothing.  The world didn't collapse, civilization didn't end.  I remember being at a New Year's Eve dance and, when midnight came, the lights never even flickered.

All that fuss and media flurry over nothing.

Isn't that often the case?  We get our tinsel in a tangle over the silliest things.  So often, the things that keep us up at night worrying, never happen.  And what do we get for all the worry?  A case of sleep deprivation.  Worry never changed anything.   

Scarlett O'Hara had the right idea.  Instead of fretting, she simply said "I'll think on it tomorrow."  So, if something bothers me and I find I can't sleep, I'm going to get up and make a list of pros and cons about the situation.  Then, when I've committed it all to paper, I'll leave it (and the worry) on my desk and go get a good night sleep.

Scarlett and I will deal with whatever it is tomorrow!
Sleep tight, my friends,
~ Stephanie