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I write contemporary romance. Building families--one love story at a time.





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Call!


A funny thing happened to me on April 30th – I lost my phone.  I don’t usually do this.  Like almost never.  Okay, I do lose my phone inside my purse, but who doesn’t?  (I really need to replace my current purse, just for this reason.)

But on April 30th my phone went missing for hours.  Seven and a half very important hours.
I had a good reason for misplacing my phone.  My daughter, who’s propagating my first granddaughter, was having chest pains and really high BP the night before.  There was an ER visit complete with X-rays and CT scans.  So the morning of April 30th, I called for an update on how she was feeling.  (They never could figure out what was wrong, but she is fine.)
And I tucked my phone in my robe pocket. 
Mistake!
That day, I was really focused on the revisions to my 2014 Golden Heart finalist manuscript—POETIC JUSTICE.  After attending Spring Fling in Chicago and some major thinking on my drive home, I’d finally found the manuscripts magic.  My computer was in Airplane mode—because I’m pretty sure Windows 8 is using Internet Explorer with my mail and other apps and that was when Heartbleed was a problem. 
And I missed the following Tweets!
WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! OMG!!!! WHHHEEEEEEEEE!!!! *jumping up and down* More WHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
12:57 PM - 30 Apr 2014


So someone is getting the call. I mean THE Call. A very, very long awaited THE Call.
4:10 PM - 30 Apr 2014

Yup—didn’t see these tweets.

I finally made a concerted effort to find the d*** phone.  I called it.  Hubby called it.  I went up and down the stairs, searching perhaps swearing.  Finally, for some reason, I checked my robe hanging in the bedroom.

Voila!  My phone.  And I had missed 5 calls.  Okay -- one was me searching for my phone.  One was hubby helping me search for my phone.

And there were three call from Laura.
1:13 PM
1:15 PM
            2:19 PM
Laura left an email asking me to call her at 2:26PM.  (Remember I’m in Airplane mode so I’m not getting emails.)
Laura and I had just seen each other at the conference.  We were hopeful that this last revision for SuperRomance would do the trick.  She was being so kind, telling me I was sooooo close.  So when I called her back (3:59 PM) I figured she was going to tell me that Harlequin rejected the latest revision.

When I reached Laura, we talked about my phone and my daughter.  And then, figuring we’d just been together and she was being letting me down gently, I asked, “They rejected Southern Comforts?”

The answer?  Drumroll!

Harlequin SuperRomance bought SOUTHERN COMFORTS.  And they are slotting it for December 2014.  Wheeee indeed!

I’m going to be published!!

I ran out of my office.  Kicked my slippers off so I wouldn’t tumble down the carpeted stairs and break my neck and screamed at my hubby, “I sold!”

And Laura’s next tweet was ----

The author who got THE Call lost her phone & so it took me hrs to finally connect w/her. I didn't mean to leave you hanging for so long :)
4:19 PM - 30 Apr 2014

So after five Golden Heart Finals, I have finally sold.  (This manuscript finaled in 2011, then I rewrote the opening and it finaled in 2013.)  As much as I have loved being part of the marvelous sisterhood of Golden Heart finalists, I’m so glad to be ineligible for the 2015 Golden Heart.

I have taken perseverance as my motto.  I had an agent offer (on this book) and then rescind her offer.  I submitted three other manuscripts to Laura before she signed me.  (She passed on a previous version of SOUTHERN COMFORTS, but called to say she wanted me to keep sending her manuscripts.)  I had two Revise and Resubmits from Megan Long before they offered to buy the book.

So don’t give up.

Here’s my question: Do you lose your phone – if so, what’s the funniest place you have found it or the most important call you missed?

Originally posted on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog.







Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm over at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood

I'm talking about THE CALL.  Stop on over if you get a chance.

http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/meet-2014-golden-heart-finalist-nan-dixon/

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Relay


I'm continuing the internet phenomenon of the My Writing Process Blog Relay. The lovely Leslie Lynch, my 2013 Golden Heart® sister, tagged me last week. You can check out her writing process here. I'm excited to report her first book, HIJACKED, comes out TODAY!! WHEEEEE!!!! I know I'll be hitting the buy button on this Golden Heart® finalist manuscript. Thanks for the tag, Leslie!

So here goes - WHAT AM I WORKING ON?


Revisions! I sold my 2013 Golden Heart® manuscript SOUTHERN COMFORTS to Harlequin SuperRomance. I got the call April 30th and received my revision letter on May 8th. There were 177 comments from my editor.


I've been focused on ripping apart and adding scenes. And am just about ready to hit send on this set of edits. I had two revise and resubmit letters from Megan Long, my editor, before they took a chance and bought the book. (I still get a little zing every time I say my editor) Silly me—I thought the next set of revisions would be lighter. But writing isn't for the weak. My publication date is December 2014. I'm so thrilled and grateful Megan Long took a chance on this book and for Laura Bradford, agent extraordinaire, for representing me!

I've also been working through revisions on my 2014 Golden Heart® finalist manuscript POETIC JUSTICE with my critique group. It is a finalist in the Short Contemporary category and is Romantic Suspense. Once I send the revisions for SOUTHERN COMFORTS off, I have to dive back in and finish those revisions.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Wow – this is a hard question. I write families. Either groups that eventually find and form families or actual families. SOUTHERN COMFORTS is set in a Savannah Bed and Breakfast run by three sisters. Although much of contemporary romance is set in small towns, I tend to set mine in cities like Savannah or Minneapolis, although I have started a series that I set in a ski resort in Montana. It's actually fun creating a town and if Touch the Sky Montana reminds you a little of Big Sky, its' because my parents had a condo on the mountain.
I do tend to write too much business in my manuscripts. It is what is familiar. I was a VP of Finance for a pharmaceutical company and also a CFO of medical group. In the current revisions I'm pulling back on tons of the business bits I had included.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I WRITE?

I didn't know the first hot mess novel that I wrote was a romance. It now lies gathering dust bunnies under the bed (or sitting on diskettes if you remember those). But once I joined my local RWA chapter, I figured out I was writing romance. (Even when I joined, I thought I was joining a Fiction Writers group. I was clueless!) I don't think I'd ever read a true romance, but the books I loved usually included a relationship with a happily ever after. Now I devour romance books, because I finally embraced reading my genre. Love it! What's more powerful than love overcoming all odds and healing the emotionally wounded?

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I usually have an idea—a what if idea. What if four sisters were struggling to turn their family mansion in Savannah into a B&B? (My sisters and I were visiting Savannah on a sister weekend.) What if a woman was helping a sister by shuttling poets to a conference and was kidnapped. (I was doing just that when I came up with the premise for POETIC JUSTICE) What if three men find out they are almost triplets, but they were born of three different mothers? (THE PERFECT CHILDREN was inspired by a BBC radio story on genetic modification when I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at college.)

I used to be a dedicated pantster. But as I learned more craft, I began to document more of the plots before I began the first draft. Initially, I used a Big Beautiful Worksheet from an online class by Laurie Schnebly Campbell called Plotting Via Motivation. For the last several books I've revised and drafted, I've begun using Blake Snyder's Beats. I may not be 100% true to every beat, but my books now have more form in the first draft.

When I begin a book. I complete a GMC for each character. I also create a background document that contains their physical attributes. I give them a birthday and use Linda Goodman's Sun Signs to get character traits that fit with their GMC. In my background document I keep character names, locations, key information, hyperlinks on research I've done, and any other information that I want to be able to access without searching my manuscript. I keep both documents open when I am drafting or revising.
I also log in and out of a spreadsheet as I work. And because it's data, I might even make a graph or two. Here's one I made while working on revisions. I may not be a financial executive anymore, but I still love numbers and charts.





I also set goals, another residual activity from my business background. I love to check off completed activities on my To Do lists.

There are a number of groups that keep me going. I've been lucky enough to final in the Golden Heart® five times. I'm a proud member of the Unsinkables, The Startcatchers, The Lucky 13s and this year's class—The Dreamweavers. The women in these groups are inspiring, resilient, fabulous cheerleaders and wonderful consolers. I'm also very active in Midwest Fiction Writers and somewhat active in WIsRWA . But I learned how to write in my fabulous critique group which currently consists of Ann Hinnenkamp, Kathryn Kohorst, Leanne Farrell and Neroli Lacey.

WHO'S UP NEXT WEEK ON THE MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR?

I'm tagging the fabulous Kay Hudson a three time Golden Heart® Finalist. We've been Starcatchers and Lucky 13s together. I'm also tagging Ellen Lindseth. Ellen's a chaptermate at MFW and a 2014 Golden Heart® finalist with her WWII historical novel. So happy to be on this wicked fun ride with her this year.
Be sure to visit them next week on June 9th.

Thanks again, Leslie, for tagging me!

 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Exercising Your Writing Muscles


During the 2013 NaNoWriMo, I realized I’ve increased my drafting productivity.  And this productivity has increased exponentially. 

Before this November NaNoWriMo, it had been a long time since I’d actually drafted a manuscript.  (Since I keep a log, I can tell you, it had been 5 months.)

That doesn’t mean I stopped writing.  I’ve revised three different manuscripts.  (One three times.)   Sure I rewrote and added complete new scenes in those books, but I think revising uses a different part of my brain than drafting.  When I’m drafting, even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my characters, about the next scene, or the next chapter.  Or I’m ripping out my hair, wondering where the book should go.  Wanting to wail when the GMC and other plot tools I’ve created fail to help me out of the corner I just painted my characters into.

But as with any other activity, my writing improves the more I force myself to stay in my chair with my hands on the keyboard.

This makes sense.  When I took piano lessons, I had to practice at least 30 minutes a day, the same with guitar and voice lessons.  Dance required hours of repetition to perfect a movement, weeks of practice to perfect a dance.  Golf required even more practice.  I hit a minimum of 200 balls a day, spent an hour around the practice green and usually played 27 holes. 

Writing isn’t any different than sports.  It requires practice to improve.  When I first participated in Book-in-a-Week, I was amazed at other writers’ productivity.      

Here’s a comparison of April/May 2008 BIW with my daily November 2013 NaNoWriMo.

Words per Hour
Apr/May '08
Nov '13
       706.1
       921.3
       476.5
       892.2
       377.2
     1,117.8
       404.3
     1,108.9
       544.3
     1,217.5
       387.9
     1,085.8
       571.0
     1,370.1
       648.3
     1,732.3
       722.0
     1,111.1
       790.6
     1,391.3
 
 

 

I write more than twice as fast as I did in 2008.  (You can see that it takes a while to get back into the groove even now.) 

There are number of reasons for this productivity improvement.  I’ve turned off my internal editor.  I plot more.  I set goals.  (Really important to me.)  And I think because I am flexing my writing muscles, I am getting better, faster, stronger.  (For some reason the Million Dollar Man theme is running through my head.)

I know that a lot of the magic happens when I revise.  That’s when I layer in more emotion and add beats.  But to help me really understand the story and my characters’ motivation, I need to get a first draft down.  And the faster I can do that, the faster I can start revising.

So my advice?  Get out and flex those muscles.  Establish good writing habits.  Turn off that internal editor.  And don’t use excuses to push away from the keyboard.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Taking Time to Breathe


I love To Do lists.  They keep me grounded and make sure I get things accomplished.  (And hopefully help me to remember important things.)  But sticking to my lists sometimes means I miss what's going on around me.  Sometimes I forget to take a breath and enjoy the world.

Back in July we were up at the cabin celebrating 4th of July.  For some reason I was the last at the lake, spending one more night before heading back home after the holiday.  The beach was picked up, chairs secured in the boathouse along with the beach toys.   The cabin was clean and I was waiting for the sheets to dry.   I’d almost put away my kayak the evening before, but decided I would paddle in the morning for exercise instead of taking a walk.

I’m so glad I did.  When I woke that morning, the fog was curling off the water.  I couldn’t even see the other side of the lake.  The fog muffled any sound and the air was rich and moist.  I grabbed my camera and slung it around my neck hoping to see one of the pair of loons that come back each summer.
 
 
 

I paddled over to the bay hoping the water lilies had opened, but as you can see, they were tightly closed.  Instead, I found some wild irises. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As a paddled along the shore, I turned my head and not twenty feet away from me was the gray heron that hunts in the lake. 
 

The buzz of my camera lens opening made him take flight.  Oh I wish you could have seen him fly through the fog.  Luckily, he settled on a boat canopy across the lake.  This time I opened the camera before I got close and got some lovely pictures.  Somehow I think he posed for this one.


 

I'm so glad I took the time to breath that quiet still July morning.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Elevator Pitch Information Posted

For those of you who were at the Road to Publication Conference and asked me to post the workshop materials, they are now up at www.nandixon.com.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Elevator Pitches Workshop at Road to Publication Conference

I'll be presenting a workshop on Elevator Pitches at the Romancing the Lakes Road to Publication Conference.  It will be Saturday August 3rd in Prior Lake, Minnesota.  I'm looking forward to it!  There are still registration slots open.

I've done this workshop a couple of times, the last time at the Golden Network conference in Anaheim.  Always fun!