June Rodriguez
JUNE: I want to finish my first book before the end of this year. I have been working for too long on one story or another without ever finishing one. We started this group with the goal of becoming better writers and critiquing each other's work. Lately I have become very frustrated with what I am working on and have not brought anything to share in quite awhile. Can we all set a specific date to finish our work in progress? Maybe this will help me.

DORI: I'm right there with you June. 2010 should be the year for all four of us to finish a novel. I would like to have my done by October or November this year (before Bouchercon and the mystery conference cruise), but definitely before the year is out. Sooner would be great, but the point is to get it done; setting a goal and sticking with it at a minimum. I'm excited. I think if we all four set out to accomplish finishing a manuscript this year it will motivate all of us to do so. Let's hold each other accountable!

SARAH: My main goal is to enter the RWA Golden Heart contest. It was a goal last year so I'm determined to "tote the note" this year, blast it all!! I'd like to have my MS completed/polished and ready for the mid-September 2010 entry date. It's totally within my grasp; I just need to step up to the plate and start swinging. There is a blog I like to haunt that is very similar to ours in that the writers are all CP's. Together, they have encouraged each to "The End", been there for the agent/publisher coups, and will all have debuts this year. How exciting! I think it's awesome we're doing this together. I hope that we'll be celebrating together, as well!

JACKIE: Count me in ladies. This year belongs to us! I am committed to having my manuscript in a box, wrapped with a bow for my husband's birthday, September 18th. It is a gift to myself, and a gift to him because he has believed in me for the years I have struggled. We owe it to ourselves because we are that good. I sit at our table and I hear us all, and our writing voices are strong and clear and ready. June I am so proud of you. Your writer's "Towanda" is out! So, to us ladies, because this year the world will meet our creations.

JUNE: A few weeks ago I finally entered the world of Facebook as part of my list of things to do to build a writing platform. So far I have just the bare bones set up. I do have a growing list of friends and I have more to learn but I am not happy about all the game windows that are being sent my way. I expected more actual social interaction going on.

DORI: Facebook can be used as you want to use it. It has the capacity for social interaction, but it can be just something to entertain others. I don't get involved with the building gardens, fish tanks, games, etc. I don't have the time or the inclination. However, it is a great vehicle for keeping folks up to date on things, such as a contest win. Hey, that reminds me that I don't think I let everyone know about my recently published short story. Think I'll jump onto Facebook today. We should also encourage our blog followers to come introduce themselves and friend us all. It's great to meet other writers out there. Keeps us from feeling isolated.

SARAH: FB is what YOU make of it. Dori, pegged it right. FB is a multi-faceted social site. Whether you're looking to connect with old high school buddies, meet authors and fellow writers, or marketing your blog or book, there is something for everyone. I stay away from games just because I know I'd get addicted and get NOTHING accomplished! So, I'll live vicariously through my mom's successes at BeJeweled. Now, there is the perfect example of a FB junkie! (Sorry, mom, you know I love ya, but you know it's true! lol)

JACKIE: I agree with Dori and Sarah, Facebook is a great tool, but you have to use it as one. The temptation is always there to skip about the playground area, but just remember who you are signing in as: working, networking writer, or everyday, I just want to have fun self. Both are valid, but remember to be "on the clock". Personally, I am more like Sarah, I look at the fun stuff, but I am leery about "farming" or "fishing" or the other myriad things my relatives and friends do, because YES I would be playing in the "park" all day, lol.

DORI: Facebook is one way of getting your name out there. Having a website is probably more important. I don't use my website the way I should, but it's a great tool. I don't have the capabilities to do things myself, so I use a webmistress to help keep it up for me. I had the original site set up by one individual who did a good job, but now I work with friend and fellow writer Brenda Pandos. You can check out her work website out at http://www.brendapandos.com/. However, given June's gift for putting up our blog here, when June's ready to jump into having a website she could probably put one together without help. I'm not that technologically gifted.

JUNE: That’s the other goal on my list this year. I want to get a web site set up. Dori, your site looks great. I may give setting the site up on my own a try.

SARAH: Getting a website is my second goal for this year. I'd love to combine a website with my blog. I spend a lot of time promoting other authors on my blog. It would be nice to have a place where my work is front and center in the display case, so to speak. I'd love to learn how to design my own website, blog backgrounds, and banners, too. Maybe one day I'll take a design class. I think it would be fun class to take and a great way to help me understand 'techie talk'. LOL

JACKIE: Well, right now, I am working on my blog site. My goal is to having it at least presentable by the end of next weekend. It is doable. After spending time "working" my blog, I will move up the ladder to a website, but right now I just want to get into the water and learn to "swim". In a few months I will be free for experimentation. SUMMER yeah:)

DORI: In order to complete our novels by the end of this year we need to commit to bringing a minimum number of pages to group EVERY week. Seems like we can all handle at least two pages. They don't have to be perfectly polished, just something that moves the work forward. We can help each other turn those pages into strong writing.

JUNE: I think I can do that. That's only about 600 works.

SARAH: I'm going to commit to writing at least 3-4 days a week. I think a set goal of 600 words at each session is totally realistic. Once I get back into the habit of parking my rear in the chair on a consistent basis, I can always increase the goal. The object here isn't so much word count as staying PRODUCTIVE- aka forward motion! Writing "The End" in 2010, baby!

JACKIE: My commitment is 2000 words a week. If I hold that pace, I will be finished by September 2010.

ALL: Okay, we've sealed the deal with a four handed high five, now let's get to work writing. This week the journey begins.

P.S. To all our followers and friends. This week we marked our first six months working together to post this Blog. Thank you for hanging in there and following our journey. As Dori said we would love to hear from you. Post a comment or send us an email. I check in everyday.
June Rodriguez

JACKIE: I have decided to set a new writing goal for myself. I am writing a minimum of 2,000 words a week. With job and school, I think that this is still a realistic number. Most importantly, I need this to keep my book a real thing in my mind. It means I take my dream seriously. With this number, I can complete my novel by the end of fall.

JUNE: I’m really glad you are going for a new writing goal. We have talked about goals before but changing or upping a goal makes it a new challenge. Any opportunity we take to increase our writing time or work on new goals for building our platform can only help us with the goal of eventual publication.

DORI: How right you are, June. The key is to have a goal; otherwise we flounder, as I know all too well. Problem is finding one that works for us, but at the same time moves us forward with enough momentum to eventually be successful. I'm still struggling to get there. Just when I think I've got the one chapter a week mode working for me, my real life demands make that difficult. When I spend 12+ hours a day writing grants (as I've done a lot lately) my mind simply can't make the switch to fiction and I'm simply too tired to think. My goal is to find a way to balance the demands in my life so that I can set a writing goal I can stick with.

SARAH: Real life isn't picky about when it attacks, that is for sure! My health issues and that of my son have left me somewhat stymied with my progress. I've been getting words in every other day or so, the count may not be stellar, but I stick to my guns and try to stay on task. Stubbornness is what keeps me going. Lol, I've got that in spades, ask my mom and my hubby.

I admire your determination, Dori. You're one of the busiest people I know and also the most determined. It's inspiring!

DORI: How heck, see now I can't complain I have too many things in the way of writing. Sarah, if you can find time in your life to still write I have no excuse.

JACKIE: I admire you both so much! The two of you inspire me, and June as well, she keeps me from putting my dream on a shelf. That is why we are so wonderful together.

JUNE: With the month of February half way over I am still disheartened with the extra pounds still hanging on from the holidays. With the job I do and the time I spend in a chair I move even less than I did a few months ago. This past week I decided I needed to add more exercise to my day. I dug through the old VHS tapes gathering dust under my TV and found quite a few exercise tapes from as far back as the 70’s. Thankfully the VCR/DVD duo machine I own still works. I managed to make it through two sessions of an easy tape this week without too many aches and pains. This gives me hope that I can continue. These days there are many ways to work in a little exercise. I am hoping that working out will help me be a little more focused on my writing as well.

DORI: As you know I have made the commitment to an aerobic workout several days a week. It has certainly made me feel better about my physical well being and hopefully will help me lose the extra weight that stress has added. However, now I find that my writing time now competes with one more time commitment. Sigh. Again, looking to find a way to balance everything.

SARAH: Bravo, ladies!! I think it's awesome you've put your health first. Staying fit and sticking to an exercise plan will help boost energy and discipline. I began the year with high hopes of getting back into shape. Well, I guess I can thank my rebelling gallbladder for jump-starting that goal. In three weeks, I've dropped 20 pounds. Of course, the people on Survivor are probably eating more than me at this point! LOL. This week I should find out the results of my "scan" and get the 411 on a possible date with Dr. McDreamy. I've got Hawaii to lose weight for and can't even work out! So, once things get ironed out, I'll be back in the gym! *heehee* I've promised myself a professional head shot if I get to my goal weight. It will be the perfect topping for my website! Oh-la-la!!

DORI: Leave it up to Sarah to find a way to link losing weight with promoting her writing.

JACKIE: Yeah baby! Well, I am friends with my Wii again. That and a commitment to Kaiser's 10,000 steps program will bring about a healthier me too. Hey, we'll have to take a sexy shot together for the blog!

JUNE: I think that is a great idea Jackie. But we should take a before picture to help motivate us in our healthy endeavors.

JACKIE: Last weekend, my husband and I took a drive toward Sequoia and there is this great (albeit shrinking) lake on the way. You can rent houseboats there. I thought what a pretty inexpensive way for us all to take a day (or two) and have a "mini" writing retreat. It's only an hour away.

JUNE: I like your idea about the house boat. Someone else will have to drive it though. I am not a boater. Never driven one. But I could come up with an idea for a story about a heroine who doesn’t know how either and is rescued by a knowledgeable hero type.

DORI: I'm game for anything, but like June, I couldn't help drive the boat either.

SARAH: Um, I've been on few boats, but my job was never driving. *wink wink* I'm sure it would be easy enough. If I can drive a tractor, I can figure out how to drive a boat. Might be an adventure!! Let's hope the lake patrol unit is hot and has a good sense of humor. LOL

JACKIE: There the girl goes again...LOL. I will look up the name of the place and get a price sheet. I am sure we can figure it out, or, sadly, we may be forced to take some hunk along for help, lol.
June Rodriguez
DORI: This week was memorable. Thursday I had a BIG birthday. Won’t mention what age, but my daughter gave me permission to be perpetually 49. I saw my birthday as affirmation that my life was on the downhill side making achievement of my long laundry list of goals unlikely. Near the top of that list was being published. My focus has been to finish and publish a novel, but in the meantime I finally decided to try writing a short story. I was thrilled when it won accolades in a couple of contests, but was elated today when I received copies of that story published in the Connecticut Lawyer. Hard to describe how it felt to see my story laid out across the pages of the magazine. Made me realize that I may be getting older, but it’s never too late to pursue a writing career—if you want it enough.

SARAH: Wah-Hoo and congrats, Dori!! How amazing! Friday Night Write has a published author in the house! Hope you celebrated big time, lady! Ha! Just don’t eat the chocolate in front of me. J I’m feeling you on the desire to see goals realized. Writing is hard work. It takes the Double D’s!! (No, not those kind of D’s lol) I’m talking Dedication and Discipline. You’ve got both, Dori. I know you’ll succeed. One thing is for certain, you sure set the “bar”!!

JUNE: Wonderful! Wonderful! Such great news Dori. I’m so glad you are in print!! The photo layout is great. All your hard work is now visual proof of your talent. You worked long and hard on your story, through many revisions and slicing down your word count when you just knew you couldn’t take out another word. Winning or placing in past contests was just as wonderful but now you have attained the next level of wonderful. Like I said, as for your birthday, don’t sweat the small stuff.

DORI: June’s birthday is a week after mine so we thought we would celebrate by going to see the movie Sherlock Holmes then analyze it afterwards. The casting was excellent, and the relationship between Holmes and Watson was both humorous and touching. A reminder that when we tell our stories, through our writing, we have a chance to “cast” the perfect characters. We have the opportunity to bring to life our own Holmes and Watson.

SARAH: One element I liked about the movie was the characterization of Sherlock and Holmes. We weren’t spoon-fed the tidbits, the character affectations brought the sleuths to life. Gestures, mannerisms, and expressions made the characters. It was a classic example of “show don’t tell.”

JUNE: The first fact I liked about the movie was the use of humor to lighten the serious subject plotline of the film. Taking over the world is always a tough theme. This movie stepped up the relationship between the two main characters to the point where they resembled and old married couple as the cliché goes. The banter or dialogue was crisp and bounced back and forth like a ping-pong match. Throw in a good dose of action while thwarting the evil bad guys and I liked the pacing of the story. So all this tells me the same basic writing goals. You need good characters, sharp dialogue, and lots of conflict. Now all I have to do is write the next blockbuster novel that will be made into a movie.

JUNE: I finially got a chance to try setting the mood for my writing with music. We have talked about this before but I never tried listening to something outside my usual box. My novel is a historical romance set in Texas in the late 1800’s. I don’t normally listen to country music but decided to give it a go. I picked out a few artists whose music was a little closer to my usual rock & roll taste and used an internet radio station to pick a list of other artists with similar styles. I have listened to this music all week and have been pleasantly surprised by how mush I have gotten into the feel of the rhythms and the stories. I think this experiment has worked out and will try this again with future writing projects.

DORI: I’ve heard the advice before to listen to music that sets the mood for your genre. Question is what king of music goes with writing thrillers? I inherited my daughters old IPod and want to figure out how to use it while I write. My desk, unfortunately, is in the thick of things in the house. I can’t close the door and have piece and quiet, so having music to drown out the noise would be helpful. Now if I can find someway of blocking out my view of all the housework that screams out to be addressed.

SARAH: For writing thrillers, what about watching some of your favorite movies and pick the songs you like. With the internet, you can google the titles. Easy-peasy!!
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June Rodriguez
DORI: Two weeks ago I suggested that we each familiarize ourselves with the type of writing that each of the Friday Night Write partners aspire to emulate. So, I finally copied a chapter from James Grippando’s Born to Run, as an example of the type of writing that is appropriate for my genre, but at the same time has a similarity to my own writer’s voice. Tonight all of my writing partners read the chapter and now have a copy of that chapter to keep as a reference in reviewing my work. I now keep a copy on my desk as a reference to check my own work against. I think it is a valuable tool for me, and hopefully will help my partners to better critique my work. I look forward to seeing similar examples from each of my partners. Will be interesting to see the impact on our value to each other as critique partners.

JUNE: I continued to rifle through my meager stash of books looking for an example of my writing type. I needed to go to the library and the local book store before I settled on an author whose style is similar to my own. Two books later I have my future example to provide to the group next week. And in the process I have a new author I will be following.

JACKIE: I am right behind you June. There are several authors that have parts of me in them. Maybe I will create an “anthology” of work that represents my style. I say this mostly because my book contains elements of a few genres.

One thing I look forward to, is visiting stories l have left on the shelf for awhile. It will be interesting to see, while backtracking, a time track of influences that have helped create the writer I have become.

SARAH: It was very interesting to see your example, Dori. Not only was the excerpt enjoyable to read, but I gained a fresh perspective on what sort of flow you’re looking for. One thing for sure, I was definitely intrigued with the way the author set up his characterization. Seems like an awesome book and learning tool. Good choice!


JUNE: So I have put it off long enough and this weekend my goal is to sign up for Facebook. We have established that starting a Facebook page is one of the things each of us needs to do to build up our platform. I’m not one to toot my horn so I have been reluctant to follow through on this. But lately I have found myself out of the loop of what information is being passed out through Facebook. I am the last one still standing outside the circle.

DORI: I have a Facebook page, but I’m not addicted to it as some are. However, I could certainly be using it more to my advantage than I have. In order to get value out of it, you have to use it. The trick is to have at least one day a week that you update the page and link with others. Definitely a great way to stay connected to people and let them know what’s going on in your life. So, when you have a book to promote you can let everyone know with a few key strokes and a click of the button. Gotta love being a writer during the technology age.

JACKIE: It will be nice to see your smiling face. Facebook is a great place to encourage each other as well, and to share a laughing moment. (Sarah does this so well.) Opportunities are endless, but most important I think, is that our faces will be out there. Even when time goes by before you check in, you are still connected to other writers who continue as part of your loop and vice versa.

SARAH: By taking this step, June, you’re not just getting linked in− you’re making an investment in your future. There are many facets to a FB page. For one, it’s the perfect media for growing a following. You should make it a goal to keep meeting other writers and readers. “Friend” your favorite writers and you’ll be “in the know” on their next release AND getting an awesome tutorial in Authorhood 101!! Just remember to give yourself time to play and work. It’s your platform, make the most of it!

Ha! Next up, is Twitter, right?!

DORI: Still haven't gotten into Twittering yet, so I'm in the same boat as June there. Taking baby steps.

JACKIE: We have to keep writing--over, under, and across the inputs and opinions of others, even contest judges. When you consider the evaluation of ten judges and find at least eight diametrically opposed opinions that is a clue to listen to your own voice. Trust it.

As long as your craft is evolving you should have confidence that your story will reach the right readers. Guess who they will be? They will be the thousands (or millions) that enjoy what the judges who gave you high marks enjoyed.

A good writer has only one challenge--find the audience to love you.

SARAH: The one thing entering contests has shown me is the value of moving forward. While I appreciate the time and effort the judges put into my entry, I’m the one who has the final say.

For instance, I got my results back from the Gotcha Contest and was completely stumped with the comments. Two of my judges had contradictory advice. What the heck does one do with that? The old Sarah would have agonized over what was said, maybe changing and rewriting--but that’s so 2009! The new Sarah is focused on moving forward!!

DORI: Good for you, Sarah. We would all love every word to be perfect, but in striving to reach that goal you may never finish writing your book. That is particularly true of a first book. Writing is a life-long learning process. Each book will be better than the last. The key is to finish. Don’t spend forever trying to get everything just right. Instead, just write!

JUNE: Just writing sounds wonderful. With everything else in our lives that demand our time, finding that elusive writer heaven is so difficult. Dori and Sarah have been my inspiration the last couple of weeks. If you guys can carve out time to move forward I will strive to follow suit. We may not be able to follow our dream of a writing retreat right now but when we do I want to be able to have that first manuscript to edit with the rest of you. You go girls.

DORI: I'm certainly one to rely on the excuse that I don't have time. You know how crazy and demanding my life is, but trying to carve out time for something every week is keeping me moving forward. One nice thing about thrillers is that they generally have short chapters, generally less than ten pages. I have just been focusing on having at least one new chapter a week for all of you to review. I would love to see you follow suit, June. Just jump in and don't be afraid to bring something forward that is less than perfectly polished. Just write!

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