Wednesday, January 19, 2011

writing, wallpapering, winter joys

I'm expecting galleys for The Colonel's Lady any minute. But I'm trying to get my wallpaper to stick and move into my new little library first. I don't like calling it an office. Office sounds so impersonal, like I'm an accountant or something! I'm a writer, thus the best nest for me is called a library (even if it's not!).

Speaking of wallpaper, aren't these 18th-century walls beautiful? I'd gladly take the green or the blue. I don't know how those colonials managed to get their wallpaper to stick but a little research might tell me. Forget the wallpaper ~ I love the bed, the little washstand, the trunk and all the rest. I even see snow outside that lovely window which tells me it's winter in Williamsburg.

We're halfway through January, my least favorite month, and it's been such a busy one. Wyatt's last basketball game is today and Paul and I are going to a fiddle lesson. He's been playing the Minuet and Gavotte in all their variations lately and it's perfect writing music.

Some of you have asked me how my new series is going ~ The Ballantyne Legacy, Book 1. I must confess it's been quite a ride as this book has been written in record time. Kaye Dacus refers to it as being "in the zone" - when you write hard and fast and everything else, including editor mode, is set aside. You just write your heart out. I think the reason I don't like to write fast is that I love spending time with my characters, falling in love with them, and writing fast deprives you of that. However, with the publishing timetable, writing slow is no longer an option for me. So...I am at 83K on TBL and want to savor the last 30K or so:) I've printed the book out and have spent the last few days editing it, layering, adding richness and detail before I push forward. Deadline is September 1st.

Speaking of books, I've read some interesting buzz lately about short chapters. One of my favorite writers, Liz Curtis Higgs, has these wonderfully short chapters, about 6 pages or so in her historicals. I'm thinking of doing the same in future. One author I know allows for 3,000 words per chapter. I'm not sure how many pages that equals.

How about you? Do you enjoy a book with shorter chapters? Do you think it's possible to write a book with depth and substance in a short time?


  1. I definitely think you can write with depth in a short time. I've heard Kaye talk about feeling like she rushed through this or that ending because of a deadline, and I remind her that those particular parts are my favorites! I think, sometimes, God IS in the rushing wind, as well as the still, small voice!

    Short chapters really move things along. I'm reading a book by DiAnn Mills right now. Her MC POV is Limited Third person, and those chapters are fairly long. But every once in a while, we get a glimpse into the villain's POV, and it's in FIRST person POV, and they're short. Just enough to chill you to the bone, and make you rush to turn that page!

    Hope your wallpaper is sticking now!!! Snow tomorrow!

    Hugs from KY!

  2. Something strange happened for me with The Art of Romance. My chapters are usually right around 3,000 words. That's what I aim for, and that's the amount of text that gets me to my next hook.

    But in ART, my chapters averaged closer to 4,000 words each. Not sure why. But, after my first pass of edits with the copy editor, she's gotten approval to take the MS length up to 110k (contracted at 100k and already at 103k)---because she thinks it needs at least one more chapter. So, somehow, I need to come up with an additional 4k words. Really wishing this book had shorter chapters right now! :-)

  3. Ohh I love that bed, I've always loved antique furniture and wish I had more money and more room so I can collect more LOL! My great grandfather used to find antique furniture like beds and dressers and restore them so maybe that's where my love of old furniture comes from!

    Abour chapters: I definitely LOVE a book with short chapters. I don't always have a lot of time to sit down and read a book so if it has a chapter that's ten pages I can usually zip through that in about 6 minutes and not worry about having to stop reading at some random spot in the middle of a chapter.

    XOXO~ Renee

  4. As a reader, I'm likely to read more at a time when a book has short chapters. I'll page through & see only a handful of pages & say, "Just one more chapter." Then that leads to another chapter, and another, etc. If a book has 20 page chapters, I'm apt to put the book down for the night.

    Best of luck with your wallpapering. One of my goals for this spring is to remove hideous wallpaper off the 20 foot walls in my dining room. I'm not looking forward to that but it has to be gone in time for my daughter's high school graduation party.

  5. Lovely picture! :) Wish I was there with a good book and no homework... But alas! I must keep remembering that education is a privilege and an expensive gift to myself. ;) Plus, I can make time for other things if I balance my time well.

    Which leads me to your second question... Oh, I surely hope so! I am working more on my WIP, and it is my hope to finally finish it this year, before June. I am enjoying coming back to the story, but I hope I can write fast while still writing with depth and emotion. :)

    And I think short chapters can be effective. I know some authors use short chapters or sections to show the villain's point of view, but I think they can also be good if you have a succinct point you want to share or a quick actions scene or something. :)

    Hope you are doing well, and good luck with that wallpaper!


    P.S. Wish one of those galleys was headed my way! ;) Can't wait to read The Colonel's Lady!!!

  6. Wow, you are really on the ball with this new series, that deadline is still 8 months away! This story has me so excited. I can't wait to hear more about it. :)

    Hmm, chapters...I don't mind either, though I am more partial to shorter chapters, feels a bit like it's moving a long at a quicker pace, but if long chapters have breaks I don't mind that either. I guess, I'm not much help! I don't look for an excuse to put a book down in the middle of a chapter, but I will often flip ahead and if it's late and the chapter is long with no break, I'll probably quit.

    Thanks for giving the peek, I always wanted to know how long your books are! :)

  7. I prefer short chapters. It's a psychological thing I'm sure, but it appeals to me visually. And I do think you can write a book of richness and depth in a short time. I'm sure editing is necessary, but haven't you captured the heart of the story the first time around?

    I've read books that didn't seem to have enough editing or proofreading, as far as picking up errors goes, but I loved the story, so I didn't care! I've also read books that had all the requisite things editors and publishers demand, and I've skimmed whole chapters to get to the good stuff. We readers can be odd and fickle folks, I guess!

  8. I love that room too, but I confess, I have never lived in a room with wallpaper. It's always painted walls.
    Let's see... as to short chapters, I don't think it much matters to me. I just like a good book with a little bit of insight.

  9. Funny enough -- I don't pay any attention to chapter length at all when I am reading. I just plow right on through until I can't possibly read another word because a)the bus has arrived at my stop, b)lunch hour is over, c) the dog wants to go out NOW! d) I nearly dropped it the bathtub when I dozed off e)I fall asleep. LOL.

    As a writer though I'm having a crazy time trying to figure out when a chapter is over. My poor wip just runs along together without any chapter breaks while I try to figure this out.

    And I love the room, Laura. Wonderful relaxing and it has such an airy feel to it.

  10. I love short chapters...easier to say, "Just one more chapter." Hope your day is blessed!

  11. Regina, I'm so glad you said that about Kaye's fine work! I think it's very true. Sometimes a little pressure/speed does result in better writing. That happened to me with TCL right in the dreaded sagging middle (which is one problem I never seem to have, though I have others:) - I had to write fast in rewrites and redo a major scene the plot hinged on and it turned out to be my favorite in the entire book:)

    Oh, that wonderful wind analogy... I love the wind and always think of the Holy Spirit when I hear it.

    DiAnn's POV switch sounds fascinating! I do something similar though I stay in 3rd person in this new series. For my "bad" sister I use her POV once in a while and those scenes are always very short. I need to make them chilling like you said:)

    Stay warm if that snow materializes! Thinking of you!

  12. Kaye,
    You're experiencing one of my worst manuscript fears - having to come up with another chap when you're done (or think you are). I'm sure you'll do fine but it is interesting that you went long on chaps this time when you tend to just do 3k. I'd love to hear how that goes.

    My dream is to have my word count bumped up (which may seem to contradict my previous paragraph). So I envy you there! I tend to write long and The Colonel's Lady is even bigger than TFD. But my series is quite a bit less verbose.

    Love your new cover, BTW!!

  13. Renee,
    Oh, your great-grand sounds like a dream with refinishing antiques! I've always admired that and wish I could do that, too. My favorite furniture pieces are antiques.

    This room IS enormously appealing. I'd love to spend the night in such a bed and see if those bed curtains indeed helped keep you warm. Throw in a warming pan and a crackling fire and it sounds like all the makings of a good dream:)

    I prefer short chapters, too, for the same reasons you mentioned. But I'm wondering if, like Kaye, my hooks require length. I tend to write long in everything. Sigh.

    Bless you, Renee and XO back at ya! I'm in need of a Journal Jot. Think I'll head over to Jules...

  14. Brenda,
    I wish I was there to give you a hand! And hoping it peels right off:) I can just imagine the design if it's been there awhile. Some of those older patterns from the 70's or so were scary! That grad date sounds like a great goal/motivator. Sounds like you'll be painting and not papering from here on out!

    I am doing the very thing you mentioned in this book by Liz. Her chaps are about 6 pages, thus I say, "Oh, just one more...and one more..." But her writing is so good I can't help myself:)

  15. Amber,
    Good point about POV and short chaps. And I'm SO glad you're enjoying coming back to your WIP - so critical! I never used to believe you could write with depth/emotion/etc. in a short period of time but I'm changing my tune as I go along. God isn't limited by time and He's the gift-giver so am not sure why I have boxed him in in that respect, so to speak...

    I don't know how you college students do it! In my day no one had a laptop/computer except a prof or two, but now nearly everyone does. I think it would be hard to limit online time, especially since you're doing assignments online, etc.

    BTW, you said something so helpful here a couple of months back. You spoke of disconnecting from some of your social networking because you wanted to be spared the drama. That was so encouraging to me. I remembered that when I killed my Twitter account and some other things. Now, before there's a huge Twitter outcry, I think that venue is fine for some. But it's not for me. And it has returned so much writing time to me:) And I'm much rather be writing than Tweeting, Shout-lifing, and all the rest.

    Hope you love Roxanna and my rascally Colonel McLinn as much as I do:)

    Praying for you as you write and study. So good to see you here!

  16. I love the photo, both the greens and the blues are very pretty. I hope your wallpapering project is going much better now.

    January is also my least favorite month. It also seems so long. I'll be glad when it's over. Maybe. January ending means I have jury duty for a month. I'm not particularly looking forward to that.

    I don't really pay attention to chapter length. Since a good portion of my reading time is while I am working and on hold, I'm pretty good at stopping in the middle of a page.

    I did notice what you mean about the length of Liz Curtis Higgs' chapters, when I started reading Here Burns My Candle earlier today.

    Still waiting for my Kristin Billerbeck book. UPS delivered to the office of my apartment complex today. They tried to deliver it here to me, but I was on the phone when they came to the door. I'm planning to go to the office to pick it up tomorrow morning.

  17. Casey, Two votes now for putting the book down if the chaps are long and it's late:) I so agree. And I so appreciate your encouaragement in saying I'm way ahead of the game. I don't feel like it as this manuscript needs so much work. When I feel panicked I remember ICDATTHWSM (I can do all things through Him who strengthens me...)

    My ideal word count would be 150k. That's about 500 pages or so (I think). But it's getting late and I have a headache so don't hold me to that:) Bless u bunches!

  18. Renee Ann, YES, capturing the heart of the story is really what it's all about. And I believe that can be done quickly and then fleshed out where needed later. Sometimes it's the quick write that keeps all those threads tight. Taking your time can make you lose a few. I'm living proof!

    I must admit I'm a fickle reader, also. And I've done a few of the things you mentioned you do as a reader! Bless you for your comments here.

  19. I honestly haven't ever given much thought to chapter length. Lets face it, with a 3 year old in the house, I'm lucky to get a few pages read at a time ;)
    I dont think its the length of time that goes into a book that makes it special, but the focus. I know as a painter I can get pretty quick with a painting, but that doesnt mean it wasnt done with thought and deliberation. I think for this new year I need to be like you and just sit and write and perhaps not let the little voices of doubt creep in. If only for an exercise, of course ;)

  20. Michelle,
    How fun to actually be reading the same book at the same time:) I'd love to get your impressions about a certain someone once you get there... But no spoilers! Enjoy the read. I'm finding it so delightful. Hoping you get your KK book soon.

    You and Randy both have jury duty soon. Take a good, thick book! And bundle up - I hear some snow is headed your way, you lucky duck:)

  21. Michelle, Make that KB, instead. Grrr. Long day here:)

  22. Adge, You know, you're right. Leave it to you to get to the heart of the matter. If I book is really good, chapter length isn't even a factor! In fact, I think of all the best-loved books I've read and they were never long enough...

    Painted walls sound fine to me right now. Really, really good:)

  23. Kav,
    I so wish this was my room - or yours! Airy is the perfect word for it. Such a beautiful, spacious, quiet-looking place. Looks like it could hold a lot of books.

    You are such a voracious reader I'm not surprised you don't give a fig for chapter length, etc. I'm chuckling about your excuses for not caring:) I need to get over to your blog and see which book you've had your head in lately!

  24. Heather, I sure like when you talk about your art/painting. I've always wondered how long an artist takes on a particular piece. I guess there are a lot of factors involved as far as medium, subject, etc. I don't know the right lingo so please bear with me!

    When the boys were small I got so little reading done, especially when they were 3. Such a busy time. I'm sure a little girl is no different. Whew! I get tired just remembering.

    I hope you found some good LCH books today - or will when you have the time. I'd love to hear your perspective on her Scots trilogy:)

  25. Colleen! You slipped in and I didn't see you here:) Another thumbs up for short chapters! I think the vote is heavily for short so I'm going to try to write to that end. I sure like them better. Am wondering if your chapters are long, short, or if like Kav you really don't think about it.
    I hope your day is blessed, too. You've sure blessed me by appearing here:)

  26. I don't mind longer chapters, but when it comes to a suspenseful book..the shorter the better. Suspense books with longer chapters often feel too slow paced for me.

    I don't think chapter length really affects how much I enjoy a book, though I think it may affect how quickly I read it.

  27. Ah, good point about suspense, Julia. That does make sense. Just like writing in shorter, tighter sentences works better in action/tension scenes. The general consensus seems to be that we do like shorter chapters if we're short on time but overall chap length is immaterial as it's the quality of the book that matters most. In that case, or my case, we don't want it to end!

    Hope your cold is better and the littles are all lovely today:)

  28. I'd love to curl up in that bed and pull the curtains closed. How cozy that would be. I love the pretty wallpapers, blues and greens are my favorites.

    I prefer shorter chapters - about 2,500 - 3,000 is ideal. It makes me feel like I'm making progress on the book and is short enough that I can always manage to finish the chapter in one reading, but often encourages me to go on to the next. Because this is my preference for reading, I also tend to write shorter chapters.

    And how exciting that you will get to enjoy TCL in your new "library"! I call my office my "writing studio" in my head, but always end up calling it my office anyway. I think I like the sound of library. After all,it is filled with a bazillion books ~ on the shelves, in my computer, in my head...

  29. I write in spurts. Some times those spurts are fast and furious regarding writing... but then I go back later and "clean it up". There are those times though, that going slow means I can lay out exactly what I want as I need to take it in steps to convey the thought or "ordeal" in a specific way. Either which way... I still have fun!!

  30. It depends on the book. If it's fast paced, shorter chapters are good, so you can grab a breath. A slower pace book, one rich with characters needs a bit more length.

    I find the length of my chapters is subject to the scenes, characters, and the action itself (since I do write suspense.)

    I've been in that zone for the past 2 days myself--I'm allowing for a free bit of net time this morning and then need to shut down the Mac. I found not having it on helps keep me away from it and working on my laptop. In fact I didn't want to leave yesterday for my volleyball game, but I had to coach after all!

  31. Carla, I've seen pictures of your writing nook and it's quite nice:) I think we writerly types need that. I know my books runneth over and I wish I had more shelves...

    I love hearing about your writing. Only a few more months and I'll hold your book in my hands! Praying for you as this is such a busy time for you.

  32. Dana, You sound very organized! And you mentioned the magic word about writing - FUN! Liz Curtis Higg's said, "If there's this overriding sense of joy, mission, and passion, then the endeavor is of God. I have found that if something is very stressful, it's of Liz, but if it's of God, it flows. Not that it's always going to be easy, but there will be moments of pure joy along the way."

    So thanks for confirming that, Dana:)

  33. Winter, Sounds like the writing is going wonderfully well:) I like being in the zone, too! And it's pure punishment to have to get up and do anything at all when you're there, even eat or coach volleyball!

    Praying your day holds all you hold dear! I've been thinking of you amidst all you have going on - and praying.

  34. Okay, before I comment on this lovely pic and post I just have to say that you look so pretty in your new picture!!! Pink is your color, my friend!! Simply beautiful :)

    Now, the post ;) I like the whole feel of the post pic. Those wallpaper colors are really nice, especially the green and I wish I had a room like that to look out the window of at all the snow we've been having! You always posts pics that bring a smile and for that I'm very thankful :)

    As far as short chapters, well, I'm a fan of them ;) Especially when time is limited and you want to get some chapters in - I hate having to stop in the middle of a chapter! Coming to the end of a chapter gives you a sense of accomplishment I think and makes it a little easier to walk away from a book you're enjoying. Again, just my opinion :) Although there are times when I wish certain chapters and scenes were longer! I guess it all depends. But if you're the one behind the pen the chapters and the whole book itself can be endless and that would be fine by me! :D

    Praying you have a beautiful weekend, my friend, where the wallpaper sticks and the words are flowing!


  35. Amanda! So so glad you are here:) It's not the same till you show up! Thanks so much for the compliment on the pink picture. I love the color pink and was feeling quite happy that day!

    YES, I think finishing a chapter does give you a mental rest, a feeling of accomplishment. I love them. OH, and thank you for saying that about my chaps/books!! I feel that way when reading Liz Curtis Higg's work. Right now I'm on page 352 or so of Here Burns My Candle and am savoring it like dessert. Only I'm so fond of Rob MacPherson and think he's the hero, hope against hope that Elisabeth, the heroine, ends up with him, and am so afriad he's going to meet a bad end. Liz sometimes does that, you know, which makes me want to throw the book across the room. SIGH. So I'm torn with reading it fast or taking it slow with half-shut eyes, afraid to see what happens next. Someone said I'm getting a dose of my own medicine as I do that to you readers. If so, I apologize!!

    Like you, I love everything about this room and the one attached. It rests my heart to look at it.

    You really are a poet and don't know it, Amanda dear... "Where the wallpaper sticks and the words are flowing" sounds heavenly to me. I hope and pray the very same for you!

  36. I just wanted to let you know I posted this review on amazon.


  37. Library! That's the word I've been looking for! I hate calling my writing/reading room an "office", which sounds so sterile and uninteresting. So, I resort to saying "computer room" which is even worse! Or, we often say "the cat's room". So, I am calling my little nook a library from now on...though I know I will be met with quizzical expressions from my menfolk when I say it!

    I definitely think one can write in-depth in a short period of time. It's a complete and total immersion. Sounds like you are moving at lightning glad you can pause every now and then to give us a glimpse into your world. I love the wallpaper in these rooms and love what you've chosen for own home. I'm having "paint" problems...I think I've finally found the perfect chair for my library but it clashes with the paint color. George says he is willing to repaint for me, but I don't know if I want him to go to all the trouble!

    Glad I can "connect" with you this day, Laura. My computer is still giving me major woes. I'm going to drop you a real snail mail soon!

  38. Mary, Mary, Mary!! I have MISSED you!! Ah, George is a true hero if he is willing to repaint for you! You have a winner there but I'm sure I don't need to remind you of that:) Glad we're in agreement about the sterile "office" label - ugh. I catch myself saying, "I'm going to work in the offi-LIBRARY" more often than not. Some habits die hard. I'm loving the sound of your paint, your chair, etc. You mentioned something I'm running into - not everything going into my little library is color-coordinated:( Some of my favorite things might have to go in the offi-LIBRARY closet. Alas...

    I hope your computer woes are over soon. I had my laptop implode during a major deadline last October. Not a pretty picture. Oh my, Randy just came in and said he's ready to move furniture into the library! Woo-hoo! Stay tuned and I'll show you a pic or two next week.

    Bless you bunches, Mary!

  39. Stacie, OH, you've blessed me so much with your emails and now a review! Thank you so much! I went right over and read it, savored each word, and appreciate so much that you included how you came by CML as that is often something I never hear about:)

    It always delights me when readers are thoughtful enough or care enough about a book to leave a review. I know that doesn't come easily and takes time. But it also is a blessed reminder to me, when I go look at them, who and where my readers are. I'm so thankful for each and every one. Bless you bunches, Stacie.

  40. Yooohooo, Michelle:) If you're nearing the end of HBMC, we need to talk. Och! I have a theory and would love to pick your reading brain...