Precious Prose: A New Year’s Resolution

It’s about that time that we all start loudly announcing new goals for the year, letting as many people know what we intend so that we feel guilty if we don’t follow through (at least for a little while). This year I’m not promising to eat less chocolate (who would do something so silly?!) or work out more or spend more time with my family (though both of these would be nice). I have enough of those things, thanks. Instead, this is the year I will write more! I’m saying this loudly so the people in the back can hear me… In the next 365 days I am going to try and write as much as I possibly can. I’m also going to try and publish as much as I can.

To say I have big plans for this year is underestimating it by a thousand. I have huge plans; ginormous, great big dinosaur-sized plans.

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And maybe I’ll discover that I only have tiny T-Rex arms to accomplish these monster-sized plans, but I will try anyway.

I am lucky this year because I have the luxury of taking some time off of “work” and devoting myself to writing. I put “work” in quotation marks because I think writing is just as much work as any other job. Yes, it looks different from the outside. I won’t be going to an office. I won’t be sitting down to grade papers or plan lessons. I won’t be meeting with students or other professors. But I will still be working. Just like with teaching, there will be times I procrastinate, times I phone it in, times I’m unsatisfied with my product or wish I had more time to spend on one thing or the other.

But the point of taking time off from my “day job” is to WRITE. And, like I said, I have big plans. I want to train myself to produce prose that is good as well as fast. I want to write drafts in a matter of days or weeks rather than months or years. I want to write a helluva lot of words this year and publish as many of them as I can.

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And this is all in an effort to make my prose less precious to me.

Let me ‘splain.

As writers, we get attached to our words. We often get caught up in word count (see my previous post) and in getting things just right. We can linger over one word for a long time, wondering if it truly expresses all that we mean to say, and terrified that there’s another word out there that might do the job better than the one we have. We can linger the same way over sentences, paragraphs, chapters, worrying them until they are unrecognizable.

But lately I have been thinking a lot about improv, and procrastination, and the idea of splashing words on a page and handing them in. (Can you tell I’ve just finished a semester where I graded many many papers written at the last minute?) I’ve been thinking of deadlines and just getting things done, no matter how good or bad I think they are. I have a notebook full of ideas to think and write about. All genres, all styles, all lengths, all formats. Nothing is off limits this year. This time around, it’s all about volume.

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It’s not going to be easy. And I’m sure you’ll hear more from me as I push myself to achieve these big goals. But for the moment I’m excited and ready to take on a new year and a lot of new words.

What are your New Year’s goals, writing or otherwise? What do you hope to accomplish in the next twelve months?

What Are You Reading?

Alright, Teatimers, it’s time to show us your bookshelves! I need to make a wishlist of new books for people to buy me for Christmas! So please leave some comments telling us what you’re reading at the moment, romance or otherwise.

Outlander_cover_2001_paperback_editionI’ve just finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Or, I should really say REreading since I can’t count the number of times I’ve read this book. If you’ve never heard of it, click here now. It’s the first book in a truly epic historical fiction series that has one of the best couples/romances in literature. Bonus: it’s soon to be a tv series. So jump on board this fandom before it goes truly mainstream.

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I’ve also just finished reading Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1&2, and Henry V. In addition to being a Shakespeare nut (hello English major concentration!), I’ve been watching the amazing adaptations of these plays. You can watch them, too, thanks to PBS’s Great Performances series. Bonus: Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, and about every other awesome British actor you can name (expect Benedict Cumberbatch, who was busy elsewhere making everyone’s ovaries explode)!

And at the moment I’m deep into some research for a new book, so I’m reading two books for that: Set Fair for Roanoke and The Virginia Adventure.

So what are you reading? Share your lists in the comments!

Fireworks

Today is the Fourth of July and here in the United States that means we are celebrating Independence Day.  Everywhere else in the world it just means it’s the first Thursday in July.  It also means it is my day to post here at Teatime Romance, so I’m totally going to take the opportunity to share this video, because I love it.

Go ahead, watch it.  I’ll wait.

Now wasn’t that awesome?  Schoolhouse Rock, FTW.

And now, onto the real post.
One of my favorite things about the Fourth of July is fireworks.  Currently I live in Montana and these folks take their fireworks seriously.  Like my fellow Montanans, I, too, am a fireworks fan.  I’ve been to my share of sporting events with Big Bang shows after and theme parks aplenty. I’ve seen the various fireworks shows at Disneyland often enough that I know them by heart.  Fireworks, quite frankly, are awesome. Continue reading

8 Rules to Become a Great Writer

There’s considerable pressure in writing a blog post that will land directly on a holiday. I have to confess I panicked momentarily when I realized I would be the Teatime blogger responsible for Christmas. I flirted with a take on the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas for a moment because the ideas amused me, but nothing really stuck. Eventually, I put everything on the back burner for a while and let my subconscious work on the idea until something popped to the forefront.

Gift boxI wanted my Christmas post to be something special for everyone. A gift of writing if you will, suitable to the holiday season. It was actually during a martial arts class that I realized I had the perfect “gift” to give all our readers here at Teatime. During the question and answer session after a particularly difficult kung fu workout, I realized that the rules to become a great martial artist actually apply to being great at anything you do, including becoming a published novelist. Best of all, there are only 8 rules to remember. Just eight. That’s it. Sharing them is my holiday gift to you all. (I hope you approve, Sifu!)

Happy holidays,

~ Jennelle ~

Continue reading

Ramen and Romance During the Holidays

I am a foodie through and through, reading cookbooks for fun and planning out huge dinner parties I’ll never hold. I dearly love food-centric romances too and you find those popping up all the time during the holidays. Holiday celebrations mean food to so many people. Oddly enough, though, when I think about food and romance around the holidays I rarely think about multi-course, over-the-top dining affairs, and especially not the kind with butlers and servants and members of the aristocracy. I’m sure my blog sisters will all be deeply disappointed to know this, given that most of them write regency romance.

Ramen with White Bone soup - IshikaiAny time I think about food and romance, especially during U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, my first thought isn’t elaborate meals. No, instead I think back to the early days of my marriage to MrMr. We jokingly refer to those days as “The Ramen Noodle Era.” There was a time when we were too poor to afford much more than ramen noodles and boxed macaroni and cheese. So very little of what we ate was “real” food that at one holiday season we both started suffering from the first signs of scurvy. Gods. Scurvy. Can you imagine? From that day forward we put vitamin C tablets on our must buy list of purchases. And yet despite those early days, we were still ridiculously happy and in love. Thankfully, we still are. More than we were then, really. Continue reading