The Annual Wicked Retreat

It’s that time of year again – the Wickeds are going on retreat, starting today. This year, we’re changing things up a bit and heading to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to stay at Barb’s famous former B&B. We’re planning a lot of fun, food, and drinks – and of course, work. So, Wickeds, what do you hope to accomplish this year?

Edith: I might still be polishing Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery number one, due June first. But I might start plotting (did I, a Pantser, just use the PL-word?) and writing Quaker Midwife Mystery number four, since that’s next on the schedule. Conversation with the Wickeds is high on the agenda, as always, and I hope to get a Canva tutorial from Julie and Sherry, so I can get over my graphics ineptitude. Can’t wait!

Sherry: I hope to get some plotting done too — yikes, Edith maybe the others are converting us! I will be working on book six which has a possible title of For Whom The Belle Tolls. I love our late night late night chats when we are settled down with a glass of wine. See you all soon.

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Animal socks Liz brought each of us to the retreat one year! Guess whose foot is whose…

Liz: Hoping to get a bunch of words written in the second Cat Cafe Mystery, as well as a plotting session for book seven in the Pawsitively Organic Series. And some quality time with my besties…

Jessie: When I am writing I’ll be working on the second book in my new Beryl and Edwina series. Liz and I also plan to demonstrate interactive plotting/ brainstorming/ book noodling for those Wickeds who are not quite convinced about the upside of plotting ahead. I hope to convince at least one of them that premeditated crimes can be as much fun as those that are crimes of passion!

Barb: I’ll be finishing up a short story and getting it to my writers’ group. I also hope to make good progress on two synopses.

Julie: I have copy edits due next week for Theater Cop series book one, A CHRISTMAS PERIL. Pages are printed out, and I will be doing another read through and some final tweaking. I also just finished a draft of Theater Cop series book two, tentatively titled WITH A KIISS I DIE. I want to do a read through so I can get it to my first reader, Jason Allen-Forrest. I also want to talk to Edith and Liz about this juggling two series business. Plus, wine.

Readers: What do you like to accomplish when you go away from your everyday routine? Do you have a list, or prefer just chilling? And if we’re a little slow on responses to comments today, it’s because many of us are traveling north!

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Myth Busting Part II – Word Count

Last week, we started tackling the (many) myths and rules that fly around about writing and the writing process, and busting them.

This week, we’re talking word count. Some say you have to decide on a word count to hit each day (or week) in order to declare success. So what do you think, Wickeds? Do you have a word count goal? Do you feel like you need one in order to feel like you’ve had a productive day/week?

Edith: I do use word count to push myself when I’m writing a first draft. I know some people don’t, and I’m not saying anybody else has to! But for me, to set a word count goal of 1500 or even 2000 words for a day keeps me in my seat, which is where the words flow onto the page. I started the first draft of Quaker Midwife #3 at the start of June, and I finished it at a too-short 56000 words last week on the 13th – which is fast even for me. And I accomplished that by setting word count goals.

Liz: Some kind of goal is helpful for me to stay on track, but it totally depends on where I am in the process. If I’m writing a first draft, I try to do a thousand words a day – but I’m also realistic enough to know during the week sometimes I won’t, so if I log a good number on the weekend instead, it’s ok. If I’m in the plotting phase, which I’m just trying out, maybe it’s 1-2 scenes a day, and then a few more on the weekend. And if I’m editing, I try to do a certain number of scenes, depending on how much work they need.

scrivener project targetsBarb: When I’m in first draft mode, I use word count to push myself. I leave the Scrivener project targets window visible at all times as a motivator. (“When I finish this, I can go for a swim.”) A good, comfortable day for me is 1200 words. For revisions, I have a number of scenes as a goal, or a number of pages. Often I’ll work on one day of the narrative.

Sherry: Early in the process I do a steady 1000 to 1500 words a day. I usually cover the word count on the computer so I focus on writing instead of the number of words.

Julie: I love that Scrivener helps with goals and word counts. I am a plotter, so I try and write a scene at a time. Wish I could say I wrote a scene a day, but having a full time job makes that tough for me. But I try for 4-5 scenes a week. Average manuscript has 60-65 scenes. I would love to establish a 500-1000 words a day habit, but I have trouble enough keeping up with my steps.

Edith: FYI for our non-writer reader friends, 250-300 words makes a page, usually. You can translate our daily goals for yourself.

Readers: How do you keep track of project goals, whether at work or at home? Writers, does word count motivate you?

You Know You’re a Mystery Writer When…

[Missi Svoboda won the paperback copy of A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE from Edith’s A Second Life post last week. Missi, contact Edith, and congratulations!]

By Sherry Harris

You know you’re a mystery writer…

When:

Half of your friends have aliases but they haven’t committed a crime.

You have perfectly normal conversations about the best way to kill someone in a crowded restaurant.

Your husband is nervous when you say the Poison Lady is going to be at a conference you’re attending.

Julie with Patrick Towle right before our police ride along.

Julie with Sgt. Patrick Towle right before our police ride along.

You know how to sink a body and make sure it stays that way.

You have an anonymous source.

You’ve been on a police ride along.

Your friend’s husband, who’s a police officer, answers your questions after he decides you aren’t really planning to commit a crime.

You hear an interesting crime story and you start analyzing to see if it would work in your manuscript.

You can’t wait to:

See your cover.

Hold an arc.

Hold the book.

Sign your first book.

Make the first sale that isn’t to your mother or some other close relative.

You try to:

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My first panel at Left Coast Crime with Martha Cooley, Lori Rader-Day, Carlene O’Neil and Holly West.

Be funny and interesting when you’re on a panel at a conference.

Be witty and ask insightful questions when you moderate a panel.

Figure out how many appearances you should make and if you should have a launch party.

Promote but not over promote your book on social media sites.

You force yourself out of bed in the middle of the night because something has come to you and you want to remember it in the morning.

You wake up in the morning wondering what the heck you thought of in the middle of the night that you were sure was brilliant and you’d remember it without forcing yourself out of bed in the middle of the night.

You have to cover the word count on your computer so you don’t check every few minutes to see if you’ve reached your goal.

Liz in book jail on our recent retreat.

Liz in book jail on our recent retreat.

Your friends put you in book jail and yell at you if they see you’re online when you should be writing.

Your friends give you word counts, deadlines, and encourage you.

Anyone have something to add to the list?

JanNoWriStart — Our Final Week

The final week of JanNoWriStart! How did everybody do?

Here’s the concept from Julie:

A while back, I wrote about #JanNoWriStart. It is a riff off the #NaNoWriMo, but without the firm “rules”. Here are the ones I am using. Adapt them as necessary:

  • Set a daily goal. If you are writing a first draft, make it a word count. If you are editing, make it a number of pages, or a time limit. It needs to work for you. The important thing is, make it achievable on a daily basis.
  • Keep moving forward. If you are on a first draft, just keep writing. If you are editing, and get stuck, make a note to yourself (fix this! research this!) and then move forward. #JanNoWriStart is about building both a habit and momentum.

wordcountMy goal is 500 words a day. “They” say you can form a new habit in 21 days, so we have 10 extra days to make sure it works. I am a plotter, so I have scenes outlined. Now just to get them written.

Sherry: We have a household of company this week. My daughter, our cousins from Brazil and their adorable four-year-old daughter, and Bob’s sister and our sweet niece. Needless to say this week has been about family and not word count.

Barb: After ten days off between the Key West Literary Seminar and a wonderful family visit, I had trouble remembering what the book was about. To get back into it, I spent a bunch of time doing plot and character work. Then came the happy distraction of two Agatha nominations, which resulted in a Thursday spent updating websites, Amazon listings, doing up a quick issue of my newsletter and answering “dispatches from all over.” Such wonderful problems.

John Greenleaf Whittier, a supporting character in Breaking the Silence.

John Greenleaf Whittier, a supporting character in Breaking the Silence.

Edith: I was very motivated by this challenge. To date this month (of which more than twelve hours remain!), I wrote about 10,000 words and finished the first draft of Farmed and Dangerous, and I wrote about 24,000 words on Breaking the Silence, bringing it to over the 30 k mark. I took the challenge seriously and even carved out some retreat time in the last week to really up the word count. Best of all, I immersed myself in my stories to the extent that I kind of forgot my real world. So thanks for the push, Julie!

Jessie: Wow, Edith, that’s a great week! As for me, despite ongoing sickness in my household I managed to rack up some words and, better yet, some new scenes on my work-in-progress. I don’t think I would have struggled to achieve that if it weren’t for JaNoWriStart. Anyone in for February?

Edith: Jessie, that’s for the month, not the week! Although I did have a very good week, too. ;^)

Readers: Did you keep up with your creative goals for the month? Will you stick with them next month?

#JanNoWriStart — Week Three

Week Three of JanNoWriStart. Here’s the concept from Julie:

A while back, I wrote about #JanNoWriStart. It is a riff off the #NaNoWriMo, but without the firm “rules”. Here are the ones I am using. Adapt them as necessary:

  • Set a daily goal. If you are writing a first draft, make it a word count. If you are editing, make it a number of pages, or a time limit. It needs to work for you. The important thing is, make it achievable on a daily basis.
  • Keep moving forward. If you are on a first draft, just keep writing. If you are editing, and get stuck, make a note to yourself (fix this! research this!) and then move forward. #JanNoWriStart is about building both a habit and momentum.

wordcountMy goal is 500 words a day. “They” say you can form a new habit in 21 days, so we have 10 extra days to make sure it works. I am a plotter, so I have scenes outlined. Now just to get them written.

How many words did you write this week? Readers, be sure to add yours in the comments section!

Julie: The week has not been going well for my novel. For blogs, for emails, for my syllabus, stellar. But for my manuscript, hit the skids. Need to reboot this project, and catch up over the weekend.

Jessie: I’ve had quite a bit of success this week.Thanks to the accountability here I have managed to get to add words every day. My word count hasn’t been as high as I’d like but I’ve written on one project every day and on a second project most days.

Sherry: I didn’t get much down on paper this week. But I decided to adopt Liz’s attitude from last week.  I did the best I could. I’ll do even better next week!

Barb: I knew with being at the Key West Literary festival this would be a tough week. I didn’t write everyday, though I did get a bunch of words done. I’ve been taking an online class through Sisters in Crime New England and took a little time to do those exercises and also to do some brainstorming on my own. So a productive week on the book, but not a big word count week.

Liz: I, too, wrote every day but two. Last weekend I had a good word count, during the week not as great. But a three-day weekend is on the horizon, which means catch-up!

SusansFlowersEdith: I’m right in there with the rest of you. No words on the weekend, for valid reasons (a memorial service and then an out-of-town author event). And the class is taking a lot of my time, too, but also improving both my completed first draft and my new book. The new book is revealing itself, and when I have a clear vision of where it’s going, that’s when I can crank out great word count. Which I’m planning to continue today after I finish the homemade fruit turnovers for my sweetie’s birthday breakfast!

Readers: Any of you joining us on this? How did your writing (or other creative work) goals go this week?

JaNoWriStart — Week Two How Many Words Did You Write?

Last week we started Julie’s JanNoWriStart. Here’s the concept from Julie:

A while back, I wrote about #JanNoWriStart. It is a riff off the #NaNoWriMo, but without the firm “rules”. Here are the ones I am using. Adapt them as necessary:

  • Set a daily goal. If you are writing a first draft, make it a word count. If you are editing, make it a number of pages, or a time limit. It needs to work for you. The important thing is, make it achievable on a daily basis.
  • Keep moving forward. If you are on a first draft, just keep writing. If you are editing, and get stuck, make a note to yourself (fix this! research this!) and then move forward. #JanNoWriStart is about building both a habit and momentum.

wordcountMy goal is 500 words a day. “They” say you can form a new habit in 21 days, so we have 10 extra days to make sure it works. I am a plotter, so I have scenes outlined. Now just to get them written.

How many words did you write this week? Readers, be sure to add yours in the comments section!

Fireworks_in_San_Jose_California_2007_07_04_by_Ian_Kluft_img_9618Barb: Argh! I didn’t keep count exactly, but I know it was well over 1200+ a day. Thanks, Julie for the kickstart for the new year. It felt great to get back in the habit after the disruption of the holidays. This week will be more challenging because I’ll be at the Key West Literary Seminar Friday-Sunday, but I’ll do my best.

i-And-Streamers-At-A-PartyEdith: My goal is at least 1000 per day. I had a couple of low word-count days, but wrote every day, regardless. I made up for them, because I’m at 8046 new words for the week. I finished the first draft of FARMED AND DANGEROUS and started writing a brand new book. Yes, thanks, Julie, for the push!

fireworks-wallpapers-fireworks-the-free-winter-photoJessie: Julie, you’ve got us off to a great start in the new year! I’ve exceeded my word count each day this week except one. And even then I got some writing done so I am well pleased with my efforts. Thanks for thinking this up!

Sad-dog-faceSherry: Yep, I’m going to be that person. I didn’t write every day. I looked at it every day but some days I just sat there staring. I’ve written 1450 over the past two days and know owning up every week will keep me going. Julie this is such a great idea.

Gold-StarLiz: I love a challenge – although I get fixated on what I “should” be doing “more” of. With that in mind, I wrote every day this week, even if it wasn’t a knock-your-socks-off word count, and even managed to finish a draft of Tuffy’s story for the Rescue Me anthology due out later this year. I’m working on taking it one day at a time – and making sure writing is a part of each day.

celebration_salute2Julie: I have written every day, and forced myself to keep moving forward. I have written almost 5000 words this week. Hoping to add more this weekend.

#JanNoWriStart

By Julie
In the winter wonderland of Boston

SN853052We’re three days into 2014. How are those resolutions doing? For many of the Wickeds, today is a snow day, and a perfect time to write. Though this being able to actually work at home takes the shine off the whole “snow day” thing.

A while back, I wrote about #JanNoWriStart. It is a riff off the #NaNoWriMo, but without the firm “rules”. Here are the ones I am using. Adapt them as necessary:

  • Set a daily goal. If you are writing a first draft, make it a word count. If you are editing, make it a number of pages, or a time limit. It needs to work for you. The important thing is, make it achievable on a daily basis.
  • Keep moving forward. If you are on a first draft, just keep writing. If you are editing, and get stuck, make a note to yourself (fix this! research this!) and then move forward. #JanNoWriStart is about building both a habit and momentum.

wordcountMy goal is 500 words a day. “They” say you can form a new habit in 21 days, so we have 10 extra days to make sure it works. I am a plotter, so I have scenes outlined. Now just to get them written.

So, who’s in? What are your goals? Let us know–we’ll be checking in every Friday this month.

Let’s start the new year right write!

And Happy New Year!