I have the pleasure of hosting author Jaine Diamond, who has an impressive debut novel! And here's Jaine...
Things I Learned While Writing (Finishing) A Novel
by Jaine Diamond
by Jaine Diamond
Since my debut novel just came out, it's a great time to share some tips--things I learned along the path to finishing my first book.
Getting started is the fun part; dreaming up an idea and creating characters. Sticking it out and finishing it is the truly difficult part. But how you start and what you do along the way will have an effect on whether or not you achieve that essential milestone: the first draft.
Here are my tips for completing that first draft you've been working on--or thinking about working on:
#1 - Know your story. Before you get going, you need to know what you're writing. You may be a pantser (writing your story by the seat of your pants, without plotting it out in advance), a plotter (plotting things out in detail beforehand), or a combination of both, like me. Regardless of your style, you need to know what you're trying to say. Whether this means stepping out the story in detail or not, you need to at least know the central conflict inside and out. At the heart of it all, your story is probably about a character who wants something and encounters barriers to getting it. There must be conflict, either internal or external, or both. Even if you are a die-hard pantser, I would recommend you know, at the very least, your starting point and your ending point for the story, so you have something to aim for. Without knowing where you're going to end up, it's too easy to get lost along the way.
#2 - Get organized. I write in Scrivener. I used to use Word. Whatever your preference, set up your files now. Format them, name them, whatever you need to do so you're ready to go. If you have research or other notes, put them in one place that's easy to access. I like to create a "bible" for every project I start. For this I use a simple document in Word, organized with a table of contents. In it I include things like a character list, brief character sketches, the blurb and/or a brief summary of the story, a timeline and notes on the setting, and notes about the format of the book--the POV and the tense I'm writing in, whether it will be part of a series, etc. Once I can fill in every section, I know I'm ready to start writing the book. That said...
#3 - Be flexible. Once you get going and inspiration takes over--and hopefully it does!--be open to new ideas, twists and turns, and trying things out even if you're not sure they're going to work. Some of my best writing, best ideas and best character development, happen organically during the writing of first draft scenes.
#4 - Set a deadline - and stick to it. Write the first draft as quickly as you can. You want to get into the flow and pour that thing out! Your goal here is to write a book, to get that rough draft out on paper. All the details don't need to be there. If you like the mental kick in the pants, consider taking part in a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/), or better yet, the 3-Day Novel Contest (http://www.3daynovel.com/). I participated in the 3-Day Novel twice, and I can tell you it's an awesome thing to experience exactly what you can accomplish in 72 hours when you make writing your one and only priority. I'm now developing one of the first drafts I came up with during a 3-Day crunch into a series.
#5 - If at first you don't succeed - forgive yourself and move on. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don't get caught up in feelings of failure just because you didn't hit your word count, or you choked halfway through NaNoWriMo, or you keep writing your story into a corner. Go back to your bible, or your outline, or that magical feeling you had when you first fell in love with the idea for the book. Maybe you even need to be bold and move on to another book idea if this one just isn't working out--or isn't working out just now. Be fearless. There are no rules here.
#6 - Seek a little peer support... and/or pressure. I get this from my BFF and critique partner, who reads everything I write, and hears about everything I'm working on. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and you could use someone in your corner, just that one person who champions everything you do... and knows to ask how things are coming along when you need the nudge. This may be your mom, your partner, your best friend, or another writer you connect with online. Be accountable to that one person, so you have an extra push to get going when you aren't feeling it, and the excitement of sharing your work with someone you trust. Which brings me to...
#7 - Write it like no one's every going to read it. For that first draft, this is key. Nothing triggers perfection paralysis more than too many voices in your head second-guessing every word you write. Forget about the potential readers and reviewers. If you write erotic romance, like I do, forget about the fact that someday your mother-in-law might read it. If your peer support person, mentioned above, is even too daunting, forget that they're going to read it, too. Whatever it takes to get the words, uncensored, out onto the page. You can always tidy things up later.
#8 - Don't hold back. Put it all on the page. This goes hand in hand with #7 above. You can always pull it back in later revisions. I think it's always better to go too far and reel it back in later, than to fail to go far enough in the first place. This goes for sex scenes, big time, but it also goes for all kinds of dramatic writing. Safe writing is boring writing. Don't be afraid to make yourself cringe, get angry, get emotional... if the scene blew your mind or broke your heart, it just might have that affect on someone else, too.
#9 - Set realistic goals. If this is your first book, don't expect it to read like a masterpiece in that first draft. Even great masters write messy first drafts. You will make mistakes. You will learn great lessons along the way. You will improve. Be realistic about what you can achieve. The first book you finish won't read like that Jane Austen or Stephen King you just read. It will read like your book. Embrace it.
#10 - Take it seriously. If you aspire to be a writer, treat it like a profession. Don't do it in your pajamas, or while you're distracted by several dozen other things (like checking Twitter). Life will attempt to interrupt, especially when you work from home. Make sure you schedule time to work, distraction-free. As the mom of a 9-month-old, this means I need to focus on writing when my baby girl is asleep. If I don't, that precious slice of time evaporates. Parenthood forces a writer to get ultra-focused, but so should the idea that if you don't take your aspirations and your work seriously, you probably will never finish that book!
Those are my tips! If you're struggling with finishing that first draft, I hope some of these pointers help you over the hurdles.
I'm a girl who loves a celebration, so be sure to celebrate when you finish that first draft. You deserve it! A lot of would-be writers never get that far. It is not a simple thing or an easy thing that you've accomplished.
Now be sure to take a break from your book. I'd recommend at least a week; more if you can do it. You'll need to come back at it with fresh eyes later, to tackle the revisions. Read something else. Binge watch The Walking Dead or The Mindy Project or Game of Thrones (again)... or whatever you're into. You'll need the break, trust me.
There's a lot more work to do!
Now get writing!
DEEP by Jaine Diamond
is an ADULT title
Genre: Erotic Romance (lite BDSM), science fiction
The more lines they cross, the deeper they get…
Top cadet Lana Marsden lives by the rules. The most important rule of all: no messing around with an officer. She learned that one the hard way.
Now her only desire is to survive the grueling DEEP Training program and leave that scandalous past behind.
When she reports to Station Six amid wild rumors of erotic hazing rituals and sadomasochistic games, she’s not prepared for any of the rumors to be true—or for her insatiable attraction to Sergeant “Catch” Durant, her tattooed rebel of a trainer.
One touch from Catch, and Lana knows she’s in trouble. One night of white-hot ecstasy, and the rules melt away.
Catch knows sweet, sexy Lana is forbidden. She’s his trainee, and her overprotective brother is his best friend. But one taste and Catch knows the last woman he’s supposed to touch will be the one to bring him to his knees. Which is exactly where he wants to be…
A cadet with a secret.
An officer with a secret kink.
A whole lot of rules to be broken.
DEEP is the first full-length novel in the DEEP Series. Contains hot men (and women) in uniform, a violated Code of Conduct, and ice cream. Intended for adult readers, 18+.
“I want you to touch me.”
Lana's blood rushes through her body. Her thoughts rush. She swallows, trying to hold everything back. Trying to hold herself together, not come shuddering apart. Trying not to melt down right in front of him.
He stares at her, the heat pouring off his body, warming her. “Ask me.”
It takes her a moment to process the request. Then she whispers, “Please, touch me.”
Catch’s warm hands skim up her sides, fingertips drifting over the patches of skin bared by the dress. She moans, hearing her voice like it’s not her own.
Her eyes keep rolling closed. “God.” She puts her hands on his arms to steady herself. Feels the vibration where he touches her, until she’s melting into his hands, until she wavers on her feet.
“May I… may I sit down?”
“No, Lana. You’re going to stand right here, and I’m going to watch you.”
His gaze melts down her face, her throat. His hand traps her left breast like he’s holding her heart; she feels it pumping in his grip. His other hand delves beneath the hem of the dress. He strokes her through her panties, lifting her, weightless, on a wave of pleasure.
She shudders and closes her eyes, and pushes herself into him. Her fingers dig into his arms. It’s all too much. It’s not enough. Catch is stroking her through her panties. She’s in his hands and she’s melting, completely melting, and she’s still kind of floating, she doesn’t know where she is. Can’t locate herself in any of this.
She opens her eyes and all at once she becomes hyperaware that they’re just a speck floating out in the universe and nothing matters, nothing but this, this moment here with him, this tight little space pressed together, his fingers stroking her through a thin bit of cotton, and she’s here, she’s right here pressed against him, his touch sending waves of pleasure through her, her ecstasy climbing toward some distant peak. Catch.
This perfect thing.
This forbidden thing...
Author Bio: Jaine Diamond is a romance author who believes in fairy tales, ice cream, and true love. She lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with her real-life romantic hero (Mr. Diamond) and their baby girl.
3.75 out of 5 stars
DEEP by Jaine Diamond is a debut science fiction story that is the first in a series. It details cadet Lana Marsden’s journey through her DEEP (Deep Space Extra-Vehicular and Emergency Preparedness) training and the obstacles she has to hurdle…both personally and professionally. Finding a man who tempts her to ignore all of her hardwon personal rules and draws her deeper and deeper into a darkly sensual exploration threatens to derail all of her plans and forces her to decide what she thinks is most important for her future, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.
This erotic and imaginative story provides an intriguing look at a unique world and training program. The intensive training to mold candidates into a well-rounded asset in space is nicely contrasted with the complicated affair that Lana embarks upon, despite all of the factors that should prohibit it. The gradual revelation of both her history and that of Crash and her brother keeps one curious about the backstory that has formed the characters of these folks and there are still threads that remain to be tied off in future stories at the end of this tale.
I think that the writing and world-building is off to a nice start, although I have many questions that remain unanswered and I would like a more in-depth picture of the training program and many of the characters introduced. I had issues with the actions of those who are supposed to be in charge, from the initial (to my mind, overly harsh) punishment that allows the unexpected facet of Lana’s personality to be revealed to the flouting of non-fraternization rules as well as the disregard of the rules Lana initially states. I was confused by the friendship that springs up despite what one could consider sabotage, overt or not, and the deliberate disregard of rules displayed, with minimal effort to be discreet. My feeling is that it would be difficult to maintain team camaraderie given the sexual shenanigans that are less than discreet due to the disconcerting tendency toward exhibitionism.
Despite these elements of concern, I was captured by the vivid imagery and the intriguing settings and I look forward to reading about Lana’s continuing journey (and to getting some of the mysteries and backstories cleared up). This was an excellent beginning to an exciting new series.
A copy of this title was provided to me for review