Monday, January 12, 2015

Preparing to get ready to start any minute by Cheryl Harper

I love starting new projects. Whether it's the hat I cast on two months ago (two whole rows done) or new books, starts are all about possibilities. In about two weeks, my tone will change dramatically and then when the first edit letter comes in, there will be sharp downturn in optimism. But right now, I'm so gleeful about this story I'm not even hyperventilating over starting two weeks later than I meant to. Dogs, romance, happy endings-all of my favorites in one package. How much fun can one person have? This is something to look forward to.

And I have been for a while. Here's the preparation that's gone into possibly getting ready to start today.
1. Handwritten outline (in green ink on graph paper because I am the creative type).
2. Character chart where I've outlined the personalities, identified some inspiration, and given goal, motivation, and conflict a shot.
3. Synopsis and my editor's notes on changes that will no doubt make the story better.
4. The worksheet I've cleverly called "Things to fix before sending" because I'm no good with titles. This is a list of my crutch words. There are so many I have to have a checklist. And it includes blank spots for whatever new crutches I pick up. Because I will.

All of this? It's been slowly building for months, from the proposal to when I start writing (two weeks ago if I can go back in time somehow).
Then, of course, there's the trusty keyboard. At this point, less than three years old, it's a hunt-and-peck nightmare. I don't hunt or peck, but I do sometimes get long strings of a foreign language before I get my fingers on the right keys. Oh, the cookie crumbs this keyboard has seen!
 
Then there's the muse. I caught him mid-yawn first. But he's awake now. On the job. Things are under control.
All this will turn into a book someday, by the power of Diet Coke and my patient editor! I can't wait to see it. Someday it'll be as polished as The Bluebird Bet (March 1, 2015, available for preorder at Amazon and Barnes and Noble so... HINT HINT HINT). YOU WANT TO SEE THE COVER, DON'T YOU? WHY AM I SHOUTING? IT'S EXCITING. Don't worry, I'll remind you of this beauty in March.
 
Here it is:
 
 



25 comments:


  1. I do the same thing with two columns. I do the same thing with photos. But the paper to the left... explain that more.
    Cool beans, great cover.

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    1. The sheet "Things to fix before sending" has my most common problem words: just, already, a bit, shrug, nod, and on and on and on and on! My PLAN is to run through the list at every draft (and check off in the spots next to the word), cutting down my numbers by half, and then at the bottom, I have some other ideas, things that might work instead of nodding. SO MUCH NODDING.

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  2. Before I start character sheets I do a lot of wrangling with ideas in my head. Hard to explain that part. Outside of that your organization sounds a lot like mine-sans dog's help. Love your cover. I'm a sucker for lakes and piers or oceans and sandy beaches. Thanks Cheryl for giving us a peek at how you create.

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    1. I'm a happy seat-of-my-pants writer, but as you know, proposals require more thought. I'm still figuring out what works for me, but as long as I can write something in bright colors, I can get started.

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  3. Good luck on your start. I find so much changes from beginning to end.

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    1. Exactly! The only part I'm really committed to is trying to figure out the characters. The story can go where it wants. Dana will help me get that beast under control!

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  4. Oh, that cover...it's gorgeous. I love your "how you do it." I'm always fascinated by how alike we all are...and how different.

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    1. I got the link a few days ago, but I've had my head down, working, so while I was casting about for a topic, I decided...cover time! And then I was happy all over again. It's very different from my first Heartwarming cover.

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  5. Good luck getting off the launch pad!

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    1. Thank you! I've been work, work, working on other stuff, so I'm pretty excited to have something new and fresh an un-middle-y right now.

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  6. Oh, how I identify! I have been better about getting farther than two rows cast on, though. Now to get back to my "Things to fix before sending" list (because I'm not good with titles, either)

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    1. If you come up with a good one, pass it along. And I accept all other titles, too. Maybe I can learn to write books that fit good titles, save myself some angst!

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  7. Cheryl - love the title! Also love the cover. I'D BE SHOUTING, TOO! I rip a huge sheet of paper off a butcher roll Ron used to use to design murals and jot down ideas all over, this way and that, telling myself that the disorder prevents squashing the creativity (?) I don't know. Are the two rows cast on an early Christmas present for someone for next year? That would indicate serious organization! Anyway - congrats on getting started. I'm working toward it.

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    1. Hi, Muriel, I like your butcher paper idea. I have a big wall calendar up that outlines my "writing plans" for the year. I'd be thrilled to cover that up most days. Anything that's crafty, like drawing on paper with bright colors (because I'm still in kindergarten some days), gets my brain moving. And the hat was for me. I've started volunteering, walking dogs at a shelter, and I get so very cold. Apparently, not cold enough to keep knitting!

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  8. Fascinating stuff, Cheryl, and I agree with Muriel...what a cool title! Your plotting system is similar to mine, so I guess it's true what they say: Great minds think alike! Looking forward to getting my hands on this intriguing-looking book!

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    1. Thanks, Loree! I'm not much of a plotter, so I've been evolving. I hope someday to get a good handle on what works for me!

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  9. I love your post, Cheryl!! And I'm looking forward to reading your next book, too.
    Walking dogs for the shelter sounds like fun! When I was still in school—and walking my miniature poodle in the cold, cold winters—I discovered double pants. Two layers of pants=one toasty warm dog walker. :)

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    1. Thanks, Dana! I love all the stories, but I'm looking forward to this one. I hope it's fun when it's done, too, for BOTH of us! And I do like helping the dogs and cats. I want to bring them all home, but it helps to contribute. And I've added another layer. After a beagle made a jailbreak into the woods, the search convinced me I needed better coverage.

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  10. Cheryl, this is great! Thanks so much for sharing. I am much less organized than you (and the commentators above)...my New Year's resolution is to try to be more organized with my writing so that I can possibly get a little faster (we'll see how that goes(: So I love these ideas! I have a similar writing mascot who is a tremendous help with my motivation. Looking forward to The Bluebird Bet--what a great title!! How great that you're walking those poor shelter dogs, too.

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    1. Thanks, Carol! I hope to figure out a way that works for me (soon) and actually get better at this writing thing. I'm pretty happy with the title, too, but I really do struggle with them. A stray was dumped at my house, my dog hated him with a fiery passion, so I asked for help from the local shelter. That's how it all got started, but I was afraid I'd be the crazy dog lady at this point. So far, I've been strong.

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  11. Love your organization and your cute pup, Cheryl! Great cover, March release sister ;). I want to be sitting on that dock!

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    1. Thanks, Rula! I have fog and melting ice here, so that could be why I've spent too much time staring at the cover today, just thinking about a little summertime. March will be awesome!

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  12. I love, love, love your process. You are so much more organized than I am! And I agree with Rula, that March cover is a fabulous one. As a fellow March release sister - I can't wait :)

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  13. That IS a lovely cover. I so enjoyed A Minute on the Lips, so I'm looking forward to The Bluebird Bet. I love "the muse."

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