Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dealing with Mental Burn Out

Between Nanowrimo, high school, and my internship with Musa publishing, I entered December of last year–it still feels weird saying that–exhausted and burnt. I managed to get sick twice in the first three weeks of December, and you might think it’s bad luck, but I really believe that the physical sickness was caused by my mental exhaustion. It was my body’s way of forcing me to take a break, since Christmas break didn’t start for me until the 23rd this year.

To be honest, I kind of expected to burn out after November. A lot of Nanoers do. However, I didn’t expect it to be the brutal burn out it was. I found myself hating every minute spent travelling or at school, despite the fact that I really do love my school. Mentally exhausted, I wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and sleep for a week or maybe in a month. The holiday cheer all around me didn’t help lift my spirits much either.

Unfortunately, while preparing an article and an interview for the January issue of Penumbra and trying to find like minded people to spread the word about Penumbra’s existence, I didn’t have time to take that week break. I kept slogging through my work before the Christmas break. I kept myself sane with a combination of my weekly TV show–I recently suffered an obsession with the show American Horror Story–lots of cuddles with my cats, and a promise to myself that I would get ahead on blogging and my personal writing during the break so January wouldn’t be as traumatic.

Now we’re at the other end of that much needed vacation and I feel a lot better. There are a couple historical articles I wanted to write that I never got around to, but I’ve spent lots of time with my friends and my boyfriend, and I’ve gotten a lot of personal writing done. Over the last two weeks my focus has been on my personal writing and my social life. I’ve gone out to see people I haven’t seen in months, I’ve written an awesome short-ish story, I’ve written a couple of blog posts and set up a couple interviews. I even printed out the manuscript for Moonshadow’s Guardian so that I can read through it and start edits.

There are a lot of other things I kind of wanted to do too that I never got around to. I wanted to spend more time working on the Penumbra blog. I wanted to write historical articles for Musa’s Aurora Regency imprint blog. I wanted to write a couple non-fiction articles. I wanted to spend more time researching blogs which might help me on my quest to get Penumbra out there. But I didn’t.

The reason why I didn’t do any of those things, instead only writing up a post to announce the new issue of Penumbra(the January issue is out and can be bought here) and working on this blog and a short story, isn’t because I couldn’t have done any of those things. I probably could’ve done all of those things if I’d worked at it hard enough.

I didn’t do any of those things because I needed time to relax. I needed to go out and see some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. I needed to go out dancing. I needed to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. I needed to watch some anime, to immerse myself in someone else’s story. My boyfriend got me a Kindle for Christmas and I’ve spent a lot of the last two weeks in other people’s worlds. It’s awesome, and the best thing about everything I’ve read over the break is that it isn’t for school.

There are only two weeks after Christmas break before the semester ends this year, and while that leaves me with a lot to do, after the break I feel like I can do it. I’ve finished the story I spent the break working on and I’ve got notes for the next draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian. My brain, instead of being exhausted, is going a mile a minute, totally refreshed. My own personal writing will have to take a back burner over the next couple of weeks as I scramble to write essays and complete assignments, but I have a plan of attack for when I’m ready to start editing Moonshadow’s Guardian again and a couple of prompts to keep me writing a little bit.

Not very many people can just take two weeks away from their day job when they’re feeling burnt, but you can still make the most of every moment you have off. Spend your next weekend having a marathon of movies you really love. Go out and see a friend you haven’t seen in a while after work. We don’t always need time off to make ourselves feel better, but when we’re mentally exhausted, we need to see the people and do the things that make us happy.

What do you do when you’re mentally burnt out?

A Prompt for the New Year

The new year has just begun. This first week is a great time to set the tone for the rest of 2012. We all have our own goals, both writing related goals and completely separate goals, for the new year. If we take the first steps towards those goals now, we’re ahead. Don’t tell yourself you can wait to start working on something because you have the whole year. Start working on it now.

Right now I’m finishing up Birth of a Vampire, a short-ish story that will probably end up a little less than 10K. I’m also formulating a plan to edit my novel. As part of my plan to write and submit twelve pieces of fiction this year, I’m going to be writing an actually short story that I’ll be editing and submitting before February 1st. I’m not going to wait until halfway through the year. I’m tackling my goals now.

Today I’ve got a prompt that will hopefully inspire you and help you along the way to your own writing goals.

Write a scene in which two of your characters go to the marketplace in a country they’ve never been to before.

Think outside the box. Please post your first sentence in the comments section or a link to the piece if you put it on a blog.

Guest Post: Emma Lane on Researching a Regency Novel

Today I’m very excited to announce the first ever guest post here at Dianna’s Writing Den. I thought this would be a great way to bring in the new year. Today’s guest poster is Emma Lane, author of a series called ‘The Vicar’s Daughters Three’, published by Aurora Regency, Musa’s regency imprint.

Researching a Regency Novel by Emma Lane

Writing historical can be a challenge. My first suggestion to any would-be author is to read (and enjoy) first what you are deciding to write. The genre of Regency (1811-1820) is widely represented by well-known and respected authors such as G. Heyer, Jo Ann Ferguson, Jo Beverly, Mary Balough, Edith Layton and many, many more. Some readers are fans of B. Cartland who had a successful string of winners for years. My vote will always go to G. Heyer as the contemporary queen of the Regency Romance.

A first and foremost task would be to read and reread a few times any of the books by Jane Austen. Who doesn’t love the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth? Her other books are fascinating, but I think ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is the very best. All are excellent sources of historical accuracy( albeit fictional) since when they were written, they would have been called ‘contemporary.’ Here the acerbic wit by which the period is known is clearly available to the reader. Elizabeth’s father Mr. Bennet is notorious for his enjoyment of his neighbor’s follies. Of course, in the end, he pays dearly for his objective stance when his own family reputation goes awry. Family reputation was very important; all could be ostracized for the mistakes of one member. Is that very different today?

RWA has a subchapter called Beau Monde which is strictly for the study and interaction of Regency authors. These members are studious and savvy on the details of the period in question. There are many, many postings available for research. On line search engines are a wealth of information as well. Recently I researched early 1800 carriages and came away with thirty printed pages of historical facts complete with photographs and illustrations.

On-line sites which discuss the clothing fashions of the era often give illustrated examples for the researcher. It was a time of many societal rules for dress. Young girls making their debut into society were censored for wearing gowns that were too bold in color. Conversely the necklines of their gowns were little short of scandalous. The material was often a thin muslin that clung to a young lady’s frame.

Napoleon figured prominently in this period and there is a wealth of information available about the Napoleonic Wars. The English Regency king was a story by himself. He was appointed king or regent while his father was still alive but unable to rule his country. This one is an easy research.

Some simple rules for writing Traditional Regency would be: no overt sex. Lots of romance, but no four star heat ratings. Careful with the language. If uncertain, look it up. Women were expected to marry, have children and keep house. Period. One of the fun tasks of a Regency author is finding a story line that allows the heroines to ‘jump out of the box’ without getting caught and scandalizing their friends and relatives. Jane Austen would be a case in point as an author. The heroines are not insipid and are usually strong-minded women. Regency Romances are happily ever after. No cruel twists in the end. These are romances designed to entertain. They are fun to write and fun to read. That’s the genre and we like it that way.

Happy Regency researching. The worse problem an author might face is getting lost in too much information. It is all fascinating and interesting to read. Right now I’m stuck on finding out about gypsies who are really Roma. They have an elected leader and a woman is one of the leaders. But I digress.

Bio:Ms Lane lives in Western NY on a few acres with her husband. She is part owner of an Herbtique which keeps her busy in summer. In between she writes (and avidly reads) Regency Romances (A Series called The Vicar’s Daughters 3: SCANDALOUS DESIGN(2), MY PASSIONATE LOVE(1), BELINDA, MY LOVE(3), Epubbed @Musa Publishing) and ocassionally a Contemporary Romance (SANDPIPER AFFAIR, Epubbed @Desert Breeze Publishing). She loves nature, books, her two children and her two precious grandchildren.

I’d just like to say a big thank you to Emma for sharing this with us. If you’d like to buy one of her books, you can do so here.

Working on a Longer Short Story

Last week I challenged you to work on a longer short story. I’m going to spend 2012 working on writing stories shorter than anything I’ve written before–under 2, 500 words–but there’s a short story that I wrote in the summer which I think will be better if I don’t try to restrict its length. I’m working on a full rewrite of it now and considering extending the plot.

A longer short story in this context is between 10, 000 and 15, 000 words. The word count allows you to cover a bit more ground without going into a complete novel. With the rise of ebooks, works of this length are becoming more and more viable. For me, whose short stories generally cover the span of a few days, aiming for this kind of a word count allows me to write these stories without restricting them.

The story I’m working on right now, Birth of a Vampire, is currently sitting around 3500 words. I’ve got three days and three nights left to get through, and I expect it to be a little bit less than 10, 000. In order to do this story justice, I can’t give myself a strict word limit. Always remember that it’s more important to follow the story to an end you’re satisfied with than to meet a certain word count. If you leave out something vital or you feel like it would be more effective if you made it longer, then do it. Making sure that you feel your story is the best it can be is the only way to make your story resonate with editors.

Originally I intended this to be the first in a series of short stories trailing a couple of characters through Europe over a few hundred years. I’m debating extending the current story to include the two characters escaping to Edinburgh, the capitol of Scotland, but I think I like the story as it is. That’s fine. I don’t have to force it to be longer. There is room for stories of every length, especially in a world where epublishing is on the rise.

This week I plan to follow the story to its current end. It’s very different from what it used to look like, but it follows the same basic storyline. I hope you can finish your longer short story by next week as well, because I’ll be talking about editing it right before I dive into the process of editing novels. This year, it’s all about making my work the best it can be and getting my name out there.

Welcome to 2012 everyone. Let’s use this year to explore new writing territory together.