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My New Website


I decided to get a website for myself with a customized domain name. I will be posting my new blog posts and all author information on the website: www.chassycheri.com. My old blog posts have been transferred over to the site as well. Thanks to the reader that are following me on this WordPress blog. Head over to that site and follow me there!

Chassy Chéri

Visit my new website: http://www.chassycheri.com

 

Thank You #NaNoWriMo

Thank You #NaNoWriMo

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I finished the first draft of my WIP, Scent of Attraction. Before I discovered NaNoWriMo, my novel was at a standstill, just waiting on my computer—and in my head—to be completed. I figured, what is a better way to add 50,000 words to my novel, than to be motivated with a 2,000 daily word goal? I felt the same way when I decided to borrow book 2 and 3 for George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, a.k.a. the books that the TV show Game of Thrones is based on.

I’m used to taking my time reading books. The only time I go through books like chocolates (I like this analogy better than tissues) are those times that I read my favorite romance series of all time. Many may say, “How can you not be addicted to Martin’s books?” I was at first, but being under a deadline of 21 days to read a 700+ book and then a 1200+ book under the same conditions made me feel an aversion to pages and pages of lengthy description. Some people like detailed descriptions to get a real sense of this other world, but my analytical mind likes things short and to the point.

But I digress (I tend to do that in my blogs, don’t I?). I just want to praise the awesomeness of NaNoWriMo. I noticed that there were many people in my network that participate and was also surprised at the number of people locally that part of it. During the half way party, one of the restaurant patrons that started dining before the place was closed to the public didn’t know that there was a local group that got together for various events. She happened to be participating. One of the writers that I critique on Scribophile was also participating. So, you never know who around you is part of it.

NaNoWriMo is a great motivator with a network of people that are very supportive. This goal oriented aspect of NaNoWriMo helped stop me from going back to previous chapters to edit, and re-edit, and revise, and basically, delay my writing. I just kept writing. There are notes everywhere in my manuscript to add more info, or change a scene, or add another possible scene, but with a rough outline, I just pushed forward and wrote out each of the scenes with my points as prompts. I want to give kudos to those participants that are pansters and let their novel flow from their imaginative brains and into their fingertips. They built their novel with pure creativity alone. NaNoWriMo did bring out some of my own creativity, I deviated or added to my outline. Maybe I may use a simpler outline for next year.

I can’t wait to start from the 1st of November next year instead of 5 days in.

Am I an Introverted Writer or Extroverted Writer?

Am I an Introverted Writer or Extroverted Writer?

As a writer, I thought that I’m set. I don’t have to interact with people in person. I can just write my manuscript. I interact with people online and have that safety net of my anonymity. I tend to be quiet when I’m with groups of people and just listen in on the conversation. Online,either in forums, chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter, or all other social media outlets, I feel free to connect and chat with total strangers, provided that I’m using my pen name. So, I found it unnerving that as an aspiring author, I needed to network. Networking online is easy, as previously stated, but I needed to meet people in person.

For NaNoWriMo, I joined the Toronto community and they were holding a half way party to celebrating reaching the half way point milestone. I missed the kick off party because I joined NaNoWriMo a couple of days late. I just discovered it and since I was only four days into November, I decided to join, in an attempt to test the waters to see if I would like the challenge for next year. I found that I love NaNoWriMo and fully intend to sign up for 2015.

When I went to the half way party, I didn’t realize that everyone knew each other because they’ve been a part of NaNoWriMo for several years or they have been to the various events that happened before I even knew there were events for the Toronto community. Suffice to say, I was terrified. I put on a polite and friendly face when I turned around after checking in with the event coordinators and had to figure out how was I going to meet strangers.

In my everyday life, my hubby is the social butterfly. He knows how to converse with total strangers about a variety of topics from current events to art and history and other things cultural. I, on the other hand, have a hard time conversing on topics of current events and anything cultural. I can converse about most things scientific, but those topics are rarely talked about. I also have a hard time hearing people, especially if they mumble or talk quietly. I tend to rely on reading their lips, it’s a quirk I have that’s always been with me.

So going into the half way party, I was nervous. I sat down with one person and thankfully he was nice and friendly, helpful for a first time wrimo (what NaNoWriMo participants call themselves). Then more people showed up and the conversations were about things I had no clue about. I would try to add an opinion here and there, but I did my usual thing and listened.

The funny thing is, you would think that I would be shy about any kind of crowd. But one of my favourite hobbies, karaoke, brings out the extrovert in me. The bigger the crowd the better. For some reason, my brain has translated it to anonymity. Since there are so many people in the bar, I don’t stand out as much and I’m just another nameless face that has gone up to sing. Singing on stage seems to contradict not standing out, but as one of the people in the crowd when I’m not singing, I don’t really notice the singer on stage. I’m not trying to be mean about it, I do know that they are singing up there—I don’t ignore their performance. Usually, my group of friends are the only ones applauding, but I don’t criticize if they make a mistake, if they sing off-key, or if they look like fools. I just enjoy sitting with my friends, munching on pub food, and listening to music—even the country songs (I wouldn’t choose to listen to it on iTunes but I don’t boo people for choosing the songs). I’ll even try songs that I’ve never sung before. And if I sound horrible, I chalk it up to “at least I tried but I will remember to not sing that again”.

So, I really don’t know what I would be classified as. Am I an introvert? Extrovert? Extroverted Introvert? Shy? Maybe it’s my Gemini personality that just allows me to be a little bit of everything.

 

stock images from istockphoto.com

#NaNoWriMo Equals 50,000 Words in One Month?

#NaNoWriMo Equals 50,000 Words in One Month?

Trying to find a way to complete my novel, I looked at all sorts of tips on the internet and in e-books. I came across a few tips that are helping me, and hopefully, I will get 50,000 words in one month. The one thing I discovered that will give me the motivation to get these 50,000 words in one month is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Technically, I should probably be writing to get my target word count for the day, but I decided to take a break and catch up tomorrow. The approach that NaNoWrMo uses is a great approach to use all the time. It may be frustrating to just write and not edit in between, but unless it’s a major plot change that would need a rewrite of the chapter, writing ~1700 words a day can get you to your goal of a complete manuscript. I feel accountable to get my word count in for the day. It’s daunting to know that if I skip a day—maybe I will get my word count in today—I would have to double my word count the next day just to catch up.

Another great tip I found is to write constantly, everyday, about anything, hence, the blog (technically two blogs: this one and my mommy blog). It’s especially helpful when I get a bit of writer’s block and can’t figure out what to write next. I do have an outline, which is also a good thing to have. It’s gives me some direction and I have an idea where my story is leading. I tried to be a pantser, where I write and have the story flow out on its own, but I find that only works for me when I write blogs, like now. Sometimes I would create an outline for the blog, a.k.a. plot, but sometimes I just want to get the thoughts out of my head in the order they spew out.

Though, if I do decide to outline my blog, or in the case of my manuscript, my work in progress, I find that using Scrivener is a writer’s best friend. The software is affordable already, but if you take part in NaNoWriMo, you can get a 20% discount. The great thing about the software is organization your novel into scenes and chapters with cue cards that can display each scene outline. You can also add character sketches, setting sketches, plot information, and research items. It all stores with your manuscript for reference. It can compile your manuscript to save as different formats, including an e-book. Scrivener has helped a lot with organizing my thoughts.

When I’m not on my computer, another helpful tool is Evernote. I don’t use it for writing, but you can use it in the same fashion as Scrivener, but I find that Scrivener has more features. Evernote is available as an app on your smartphone, and this feature is valuable. There are times when I’m far away from my computer and a pen and paper approach doesn’t cut it because my handwriting is horrible and I type fast, even on the tiny touch keyboard on my smartphone—chalk it up to all texts I send to my girlfriends. I write my new ideas for a scene in my WIP on Evernote and I can access it on my computer via the cloud.

Aside from writing, a great help for any manuscript is an editing class. You can find out all the things you do wrong when you write and nip it in the bud before you write it down. Of course, old habits are hard to break, but at least you’ll know what glaring errors to look for when you go through your manuscript at the end. Some of these editing classes can be found on Groupon or from a writing association, like Romance Writers Association. Joining an association is a great way to other authors for advice. You can find a writing buddy that can give you the motivation and guilt like a workout buddy. It’s also a great way to find a critiquing partner.

And speaking of critiquing, signing up for a writing group, like Scribophile, is a great way to critique and get critiqued. Through critiquing, you can see common errors in plot, verb tense, POV, punctuation, and grammar. You can see what you want to see and don’t want to see in your own writing. And don’t stick to your genre. Explore others and sometimes you can find common elements that make a novel a bestseller. I read bestsellers and self-published works. It’s another great way to see what you want to see and don’t want to see in your own writing.

So, signing up for NaNoWriMo is a great way to get motivated to write your manuscript within the month, or at least 50,000 words of your WIP. Having a writing buddy can also guilt-motivate you to write. Hopefully, using all the tools I mentioned will help me reach my goal.

 

 

 

Can I Unsubscribe to Phone Calls and Doorbells?

Can I Unsubscribe to Phone Calls and Doorbells?

It seems very easy to dismiss advertising emails and spam—I separated the two because advertising emails can be useful, particularly those received from vendors that you do business with or would like to do business with, whereas spam is general emails sent from businesses that purchased your contact information. With a quick preview, the importance of the email can be read in its entirety or deleted on the spot. Sometimes, these emails don’t even make it into your inbox if they spam filters are set in your email. And luckily, if emails from a certain vendor don’t apply to you or you’re not interested in them anymore, you can just hit unsubscribe. If only this can apply to phone calls and doorbells. Emails aren’t invasive. They passively land in your inbox and can be ignored easily. Phone calls and doorbells cannot be ignored. They are especially distracting when you’re trying to write your manuscript and get into a flow with your story.

Why don’t I just ignore the phone calls? Unfortunately, this is an era where people are attached to their phones 24/7. Most of the time, it’s used for the apps—let’s face it, mainly for the games and social media—but it’s hard to ignore a phone ringing. It’s insistent. It makes a noise. It distracts your train of thought. It also doesn’t help if you’re waiting for that very important phone call from a potential employer.

In Canada, we have the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), where you can add your phone number and the telemarketers should know not to call you. However, this doesn’t apply to registered charities, political parties or candidates, surveys, newspapers calling for subscribers, or businesses that you are using.

It’s too bad that I can’t make my phone number exclusive to family, friends, school, and emergency contacts.What also irritates me is the inconvenient times that they decide to call: dinner time, nap time, night-time, and I’m-writing-my-book time.

But phone calls aren’t as bad as someone at the door, ringing the doorbell, during baby’s nap time, when you have a dog. I don’t want to give an invitation to a random technician to check my water heater nor do I want to change my utility billing to some unknown company because I’m eligible for a special rate according to my contract. Unfortunately, many people have been duped by these sales thinking that the company they actually do business with sent the technician. Luckily, the Government of Canada has made commercials about this scam—check photo ID and for a copy of your contract.

So, I put up a sign that stated, “No soliciting.” Just when I thought that my writing time would be undisturbed (I write during the baby’s nap time), the doorbell rings from a religious group. When I pointed to the sign on my door, they merely stated that they were not selling anything—or at least that’s what I think I heard during the banshee screams from a baby that woke up to a loud barking from a doorbell-hating dog. So, I changed the sign to “No soliciting, no canvassing, nor evangelizing.”

Are phone calls and door-to-door sales effective in this day and age? Most of the time, people check online reviews if they want to switch or change something. If they don’t have access to the online world, they ask someone in their family or circle of friends that does. Maybe there are the small few in a major city like Toronto that have to rely on phone calls and door-to-door sales. Businesses need to learn that online reviews and social media are the ways to gain business.

With the digital age and access to online information, getting business through the phone or door-to-door is not as effective as it was in the past. The number of people not connected is decreasing, and many times they rely on the connected generation to provide the best course of action for purchases.

Stock image from @iStockPhoto.com

Putting My Imagination to the Test

Putting My Imagination to the Test

There are many romance novel related newsletters that pop up in my email—with permission, of course. It’s always good to have many resources available, from webpage design to editing to book marketing to stock images. I was lucky to see that Romance Novel Covers was having a sale on their stock images. Even before the sale, the stock images are quite affordable at $10–$15, depending on the size of the image—it is important to note that if you can afford to purchase the larger size, do it, because I made the mistake of purchasing my images at the smaller size. I can use these stock images to design my webpage or blog. More importantly, I can use these images to create my e-book covers.

So, I purchased a couple of stock images that portray each of the books in my Senses of Love series. Then, I went to work on designing a new cover for the first book, Scent of Attraction. The previous cover looked too amateur compared to the many that I see on the published books I purchase. I wanted to go for a light and fresh looking cover with some color. I liked with what I came up with. Hopefully, there’s nothing else on the cover that’s needed.

Cover for Scent of Attraction

Cover for Scent of Attraction. Stock image from RomanceNovelCovers.com

What Do I Do With My Time?


I never thought that I would be a stay-at-home mom. However, I had no choice. While I was on maternity leave, the company that I was working for went bankrupt. I decided to look on the bright side. I’m not pressured to go to work as soon as my maternity leave ends. I get to spend time with my second son and enjoy watching his toddlerhood. Since we only plan on having the two kids, I saw my unemployment as a blessing in disguise. In Canada, maternity leave is one year. I could have looked for a job once my maternity leave finished, however, the cost of daycare for toddlers under the age of 18 months is astronomical. The cost doesn’t get better after 18 months, but to start at entry level at a new company is financially straining.

So, the question I asked myself was, “What should I do with my time outside of caring for my son?” I am applying to various companies, but the job market is slow. I decided to pursue my aspirations as a writer. Reading a plethora of romance novels inspired my dream to be a writer. To do this, I realized that I needed develop skills that were outside those I learned academically. I majored in Biology and Zoology, which is far from related to writing romance—unless the novel involves a science geek, which has its possibilities. I signed up for a variety of online courses, Networking 101 through the Romance Writers Association (RWA), Self-Editing, Editing Camp through Scribendi, Microsoft Office 2010 through ITU Online, and Story Writing for Children through Write Story Books for Children. It may look odd to take a story book writing for children course for romance writing, but the basic concepts are there for writing books. The course for Microsoft Office helped improve my knowledge of software that can be useful for writing and planning my novel.

I was surprised with two particular courses. The networking course showed me the great potential social media has for marketing your book. Being introverted, I hate the concept of selling. The networking course revealed that subtly can work. Just get your brand known and recognized. The other course that surprised me was editing camp. I am still working through it but I have learned a number of new things.

The main obstacle for me is time management. So far, I go through the courses, network, and write my novel after everyone goes to bed. But, this doesn’t leave me with much sleep. There are also distractions like TV and housework that do not help. I did find a little something helpful, late night cafés that have internet access. So, on evenings like today, I head to the nearest late night café and write this blog. Right after I post this, I will work on my novel. So, until my next post . . .

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