Do you wish you could write more? Guest blogger, Heidi Ruby Miller, author of AMBASADORA and GREENSHIFT, reveals how she increased her daily word count. Keep reading for a chance to win a copy. You’ll want to, because her spicy sci-fi romances rock with action!
I resolved this year to WRITE FIRST.
It was my way of seeing if I could write more. And it worked.
Believe me, I was more surprised than anyone. Over the past five years I had steadily worked out of the century club (100 words per day) to the millennium club (1000 words per day), but then I stalled. I have always been a slow writer, probably because I labor over every word and character motivation, each plot point, the cadence of individual sentences, blah blah blah.
Outlining helped me tremendously once I started graduate school. The planner that I am, I usually had a nice beginning/middle/end worked out, then went from there. When I began to do more extensive outlines (80 pages long), which detailed each scene, I had a rough first draft in no time and a direction to move with the story. That’s when the 1000 words a day came quite easily.
To jump to the next level (like Robert J. Sawyer with his 2000 words a day or Susan Mallery with her 20 pages a day) I needed a little extra mojo. Turns out the solution was simple—write first.
I decided to try my new tactic in 2012 after talking with horror writer and my co-editor of MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, Michael A. Arnzen. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, he does focus words—words that he focuses on all year in order to make improvements in his life and career. My words were WRITE MORE, but that seemed too broad, so I decided upon WRITE FIRST.
And that’s what I’ve been doing since January 1. I wake up half an hour early to… work through a yoga routine.
Okay, I know you were expecting me to say “write,” but with as much time as I spend on the computer, I wouldn’t be able to move if I didn’t stretch and breathe first thing in the morning. But then I write. Before I change out of my pajamas or make a cup of tea or surf through all my social media sites or before my husband gets out of bed, I sit down and write for at least 30 minutes. That may not seem like much time, but it’s enough to get a few hundred words in or a few pages revised. More importantly, it brings my story front and center in my mind where it stays all day long.
It becomes a trance-like state for me during the rest of the day. No matter what I’m doing, I’m thinking about my characters, plotting scenes in my head. This compels me to sit back down in front of the laptop and keep writing. Before I know it, I’ve sometimes had 3000 words by day’s end or revised four chapters. More typically, I hit 2000 words, but that’s double what I was doing last year at this time.
Granted, I accrue this word count during various sessions throughout the day, not in one sitting—I would have a constant migraine if that were the case. But it’s working. January 2012 was my most productive month ever. So far February is falling a little shorter with only an average of 1500 words per day, but that’s still 500 more than most days last year. I blame the small lapse on the launch for my latest novel GREENSHIFT, which came out on Valentine’s Day. Obviously, more marketing time was required this month. I fully expect my productivity to kick into overdrive in March… by simply writing first.
Be entered to win a copy of GREENSHIFT or AMBASADORA or both by telling us in comments what you’re reading right now and leave your email address disguised something like heidirubymiller AT gmail. Winners will be drawn randomly on March 1, 2012, and announced on March 2, 2012. Good luck!
About Heidi Ruby Miller
Heidi Ruby Miller has been putting too much sex in her Science Fiction since 2005 because she believes the relationship is as important as the adventure. She loves high-heeled shoes, action movies, Chanel, loud music, and video games.
On June 24 last year I spoke at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction In Your Write Mind alumni retreat on the topic, “Alternative Methods of Idea and Story Generation.” I talked about being open to receiving story ideas and writing assistance from higher consciousness.
I also work as a Spiritualist medium. My metaphysical musings are posted on my other blog, Building the Bridge, which you might want to subscribe to. I’ve channeled through writing since 1989. (Channeling means to open yourself spiritually to communicate the thoughts and voice of discarnate intelligences.)
Here’s something my guides spoke to me the other night concerning my fiction writing. I was concerned that the idea I was working on was too big to handle, something beyond my abilities. They told me to take it one step at a time. (I know, not really profound, but I found it comforting.)
As we continue to prompt you concerning your writing endeavors, continue and be faithful to respond, and we will lead you to the next step. Do not fear that you cannot construct a masterpiece quickly in one sitting. These things take time. Be faithful to follow the process, and you will see your productivity increase, and you will grow to become more prolific.
Fear not about the future, for we have a design and a plan laid out for you. If you will but follow and yield yourself to the gifts we have placed within you, they will make a way even before kings. Step by step, day by day, follow the way, and we will lead you onward.
If you feel called to write, I hope you also will find this encouraging.
As always, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
“Dark Promptings” is a special series of guest-written creative writing prompts at Gorelets.com, aimed at sparking the imagination’s gasoline for writers from any genre… but with a dark or devious discoloration.
In a society where breeding and caste are sacrosanct, can you find true love? Heidi Ruby Miller proves you can—in a world with six moons that provides all the imaginative richness a sci-fi milieu can muster. The setting is fantastically painted, concrete, and nothing less than fascinating.
The Embassy coerces broken and remade Ambasadora Sara Mendoza to help squelch the techno-militant fragger rebellion by extracting information from their operative leader. But Sara learns a lot about the Embassy, the system, and her target, and her plans change when she realizes that love is not just an illusion.
AMBASADORA may be billed as sci-fi/romance, but it truly holds something for everyone. The torture scenes are horrifically exquisite, the plot intriguing, the action exciting, and the consummation scene deals out spice in spades! Sara is one tough cookie, and although Sean has a few personal problems, he’s got the right stuff for a hero. I found myself rooting for both of them because Miller not only puts them through their paces, but utterly shreds the hell out of them over the course of this broad novel. As I always say, the basis of drama is conflict, and there’s plenty on every page here.
Our world’s fame-mongering class consciousness takes on stark new meaning when extrapolated to the extent in AMBASADORA. If you enjoy visionary writing from a fresh new voice, I recommend Heidi Ruby Miller.
About two weeks ago, I got the idea to revise my Seton Hill University thesis novel, DEATH PERCEPTION. But that created a dilemma for me: revise an old project, or work on a new one? Here’s how I came to my final decision.
Since graduating from the Writing Popular Fiction masters program in 2006, I had made several rounds of revisions on the book, a supernatural crime story. I would go through it and make a lot of changes, then I’d bury it again. I never felt it was complete. Certainly not good enough to be published. And frankly I was so sick of it I couldn’t gain any perspective. Am I improving it, or am I making it worse? I could never tell. After its mouldering in the grave for a good three years, I unearthed the manuscript once more, scraped off the decay, and decided to take another look.
I was suprised. Sure, there were a couple chapters that were clinkers, churned out under the pressure of a term deadline nearly a decade ago. But most of it was good. Really good. At one point, I thought, I can’t believe I wrote this…
Perhaps my skills and judgment have matured. More so, I think I’ve gained confidence in my abilities. Somewhere during my continuing studies and coming out process, I gained that perspective I needed to be able to judge my own work with a more objective eye.
And I discovered something uncanny. Those frustrating holes in my manuscript that I didn’t know how to fill in past revisions were suddenly waiting like placeholders for knowledge I now possessed. Someday I plan to blog about the prescient and prophetic aspects of fiction writing, but for now I’ll say that not only with THE SIXTH SEED, but also with DEATH PERCEPTION, plot situations that I wrote about years ago have come to pass in my personal life. Let me explain.
DEATH PERCEPTION is about a young man who operates the crematory at the local funeral home. He discovers he has a gift for discerning the cause of death of those he cremates. Not a big deal since they’re already dead. However, when what he discerns differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers.
Have I started to cremate the deceased in my spare time? No. (But the onsite research was fascinating!) Yet the abilities my protagonist Kennet Singleton develops—powers I wrote about from pure imagination a decade ago—I am now experiencing in my own life.
I’ve been planning a new novel, DEAD CEMETERY, working on setting, plot, and characterization in my spare moments the past few months. I’m itching to spend more time on it, but am constrained by my spiritualism schoolwork. When I received the idea (actually, an intuitive prompting) to revise DEATH PERCEPTION, I felt it would only further postpone my work on the new book (which, of course, it is). But once I got into DEATH PERCEPTION, I realized that I might be able to finalize revisions and actually get it published.
So that’s what I decided to do: revise and publish DEATH PERCEPTION so that I will have something to market while I work on DEAD CEMETERY.
With the help of Spirit, I’m learning to spin plates like a real writer. I’ll let you know how it goes.
As a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft, an anthology of how-to articles for fiction writers seeking advice on how to improve their writing and better navigate the mass market for genre novels, my work is featured on the MGOC site. Check it out!
MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT Now Available for Purchase!
Editing is the art and craft of shaping and refining a manuscript into a publishable book. But gone are the days of a publishing house editor doing this work for the writer. For editors, buying books they think will sell has, of necessity, become the first order of business, and often takes most of their time.
So, before you submit your work to a publisher, introduce yourself to your very first editor: you!
That’s the start of my article about self-editing in MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction (Headline Books, 2011), an amazing anthology of instructional articles for fiction writers looking for advice on how to improve their writing and better navigate the mass market for genre novels.
MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT gathers the voices of today’s top genre writers and writing instructors affiliated with Seton Hill University’s acclaimed MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. This hefty book is like a “genre writer’s workshop in a bottle”! Every contributor is a seasoned veteran in the industry or an up-and-coming writer. Many are bestsellers who have won multiple literary awards for their potent and entertaining genre fiction.
More importantly, these contributors know how to teach genre fiction. They are all trained teachers, visiting authors, or published alums from the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program offered by Seton Hill University—the only grad school dedicated to writing commercially-viable genre novels of quality.
One of the things that prevents otherwise good storytellers and writers from achieving publication is an unpolished manuscript. In my article, “Your Very First Editor,” I teach practically how to hone your prose and make it shine, increasing your chances for sale.