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A Beautiful Ending

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of the fourth book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series. (Insert canned applause and cheering here.) The title is Finding Dalia, and as I typed out the last few paragraphs, I realized something.

I’ve learned to craft a beautiful ending.

I don’t meant to sound bragadocious. But for this recovering perfectionist, writing a satisfactory ending has been a struggle. Every novelist wants to end their book in a way that will help their readers remember the book, and this can often be more difficult than crafting clever dialogue or producing an unexpected plot twist. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve grown in my craft to the extent that I can write a beautiful ending without pulling my hair out.

I’m not saying that I’m totally unhappy with how any of my other novels end. I’m saying that this time, it was easier to write, and I was totally happy with it. Which, up until now, has been a rare occurrence.

Now, on to the first edit and proofreading of Pine Mountain Dreams, the third book in the series.

A writer’s work is never done, but it can be oh so much fun.

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Pretty Spring Things

Today was a beautiful spring day, mostly sunny (at least by afternoon) and in the mid-sixties. And on our five-acre property, many signs of spring have emerged, sparking the hope that this past cold, wet winter might be over at least.

So I thought I’d do something different on my blog. I thought I’d share some of the pretty spring things we’ve been seeing. The first two are more like tasty spring things. And the first photo reminds me that as soon as I finish this post, I need to run out and pick some asparagus for supper.

When I saw what you see in the next photo, I thought, “I shall know soon if I have mice in the garden.” How? Because that strawberry, at least half-ripe (and the first one of the season) will disappear or get nibbled on within the next couple of days if I do.

The next is some kind of small purple wildflower. The photo’s not as good as it could be because the wind was blowing.

Overnight, our rosebushes have bloomed. There’s another bush on the other side, and it’s heavenly to walk between them! They are heirlooms, so the roses give off a lovely fragrance.

Here is a single rose.

Some sort of small, white wildflower that the butterflies and hummingbird moths love.

Case in point.

Yellow wildflowers mixed in with a few of the purple ones like the one I shared above.

What kind of beauty are seeing right now, where you live?

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In a recent post, I admitted to being all over the idea of increasing my daily word count. I lamented about how lo-ong it takes to write a novel unless you’re churning out 3,000+ words per day.

So I discovered that if I don’t edit while I type, I can type 900 words every thirty minutes. I tried that for three days, blocking out four thirty-minute periods. Here’s what happened.

First, I couldn’t reach that word count in every thirty minute period that I sat down to write. But I’d convinced myself that if I was going to be a career novelist, I needed to buckle down and spend whatever time was necessary cranking out 3600 words a day. Thus, the “whatever time was necessary” often meant spending more than four thirty-minute periods to write – or sitting down for more than thirty minutes at a time.

Have I ever told you I can’t stand sitting? Not for long periods of time, anyway.

By the end of the third day, I was burned out. Burned out on my latest project, burned out on writing in general.

Here’s the other thing that happened. Because I wasn’t editing as I was going, I was spending an extra hour a day (or more) to fix the millions of mistakes I’d made. I had almost no leisure time left, no time to do housework.

After that third day, had to ask myself this question: Who are you racing?

I was racing the self-published authors who can crank out a book a month because they pay someone to do their editing and proofreading (I do my own, with help from J). I was racing them because supposedly, if you publish frequently your name gets out more often and you make more money.

I was racing my attitude of “slow is boring.” My mindset that “I hate writing a novel if it takes longer than three weeks.”

I was racing, racing, racing…and I fell down, exhausted, before I’d barely passed the starting line.

So, I extricated myself from the rat race of self-publishing, deciding that if I couldn’t have fun writing, I wouldn’t do it.

I’ve gone back to aiming for 600 words per half hour. Edited and revised. Because when I type “THE END”, I want to be at least 75% through to a final draft.

And I’m not tied to sitting down four times a day for thirty minutes. Usually, my first two writing periods are each thirty minutes long, but often, the rest of the word count comes in fifteen to twenty minute bursts.

My goal now is an easy 2400 words per day, and I hit it almost every day. On days when I don’t have much non-writing work to do, and my creative energy keeps flowing, I can get another three to six hundred words in. Edited words, edited. Meaning, some days I can write 3,000 good words without feeling like I’m killing myself.

I have plenty of leisure time, I’m having fun writing, and the burn-out is a distant memory.

I even have time to resume blogging.

Happy reading.

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Emily Josephine’s Latest Publication

Coming soon!

So far, I have published four books in the “Pine Mountain Estates” series. How about Book 5? Pine Mountain Christmas will come out in mid-November, just in time for the holidays!

Click here for information about the first four books in the series.

Here’s the cover for the upcoming book:

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They’re BA-ACK!

A few days ago, I was pondering the progress of my latest novel, the fourth book in the “Pine Mountain Estates” series whose title has yet to be decided, when Hank Johnson showed up.

If you’re reading this blog post, you know who I’m talking about. He’s the male protagonist of The Envelope, my most popular novel by a long shot.

I don’t mean that he showed up at my door. Now, that would be scary. What I mean is, he waltzed into a scene I was planning for my current book.

The scene doesn’t take place in Zimbabwe. It doesn’t happen in Dallas. It doesn’t even occur in southeast Oklahoma, the home base for my latest series. It takes place in Phoenix, Arizona.

Twenty years after Hank and Sheila got married.

That night, I dreamed about both of them inserting themselves into the cast of “Pine Mountain Estate” characters.

Yes, authors dream about their characters sometimes. Especially if they are characters the author has fallen in love with. Especially if the author is a genius and a fantastic person.

So how I ended up dreaming about them…

Anyway, I love the characters in my “Texas Hearts” series, and I love the characters in “Pine Mountain Estates.” And, honestly? If I could go back and do it again, I would have continued the “Texas Hearts” series, following the characters as they grew older. For a long time after publishing the last novel in the series, I actually missed writing about them.

Then, seven years after I published The Envelope and about twenty years after I wrote it, Hank and Sheila wrangle their up into my conscious mind and tell me that they miss me, too, and could I please figure out a way to bring them back to life?

Turns out insinuating them into the plot as minor characters was easy. But no sooner had I done so, than wheels began turning in my mind.

I got dizzy, so I turned them off.

But before I did, the wheels had generated some vague ideas, ideas about how the cast from “Texas Hearts” could gradually join up with the cast from “Pine Mountain Estates.” It would be fun, because all the “Texas Hearts” people are my age and older now.

Okay, all except the baby of the bunch, Antonia (sorry, girlfriend. I know you’re getting close to perimenopause by now).

Anyway, Hank and Sheila Johnson are back. And I think the others will be on their way soon.

I’m looking forward to it.

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