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Kicking off the year with good news

Happy 2024! How’s the new year treating you so far? I realized I’ve been remiss in posting updates the last couple of months, so I thought I’d give you a quick recap of all my exciting news. Hope you're well!

LIE WITH ME IS A WINNER

In December, my latest book Lie With Me (Night Herons #1) won the romance category of the BookLife Prize for Fiction to advance to the final round! It wasn’t the grand prize winner, but I’m so proud that Emma and Jason’s story had such a good run through all the rounds and earned a 9.5/10 on the preliminary score sheet.

Lie With Me cover

Romance finals judge, author Dylan Newton, said:

This page-turning romantic suspense has grit, substance, and a sizzling second-chance romance woven throughout. Hernandez's writing grabs you in the very first chapter and doesn't let go until the end. Lie With Me is a fantastic thrill-ride of a romance!

🥰

AUDIO BOOKS ON AUDIBLE

Many of you have told me you don’t use Scribd (now Everand) for audiobooks, so I’m happy to announce that Blind Fury and Blind Ambition are now available now on Audible!

And since Scribd bought the audio rights to the rest of the series, all of your favorite men of Steele should be coming to both Everand and Audible soon. I’ll be sure to let you know when they hit the shelf.

🎧

FREEBIES

Did you know that my newsletter subscribers not only see all my news first, they also get exclusive access to things like short romance stories or monthly Scrivener tips? Don’t miss out! Click the button below to get in on the fun and get a freebie just for signing up.

I finished the manuscript!

I did it! After two years—an ignominious record for me—I finally, finally, finally finished my latest manuscript. It was a challenge for so many reasons (end of a series, start of a new series, the pandemic, my adult kids coming and going for months at a time, elections, my husband working from home, me getting increasingly worried that I’d lost my ability to finish a book), but the first draft is D-O-N-E.

What a relief!

The best thing about having it done, besides restoring my confidence that I can actually finish a 75000-word book, is that I learned a lot about my writing process and how my brain works.

I had already planned to pay more attention to what worked for me while writing this book, and sometimes my experiments failed, which slowed me down. I’m also a heavy thinker, and my instinct is to sit and think about the book a lot. Turns out, that’s not the best practice for me.

In case you’re curious, here’s what does work for me:

  • Commit to 2-4 hours of time in the manuscript each writing day (even if I just end up writing about the writing, or doing research I need to move forward)
  • Wear headphones. Even if I have nothing playing, it’s creates a virtual cone of space around me that helps me get into the zone. I often work best with one song playing on repeat that kind of sets a mood and isn’t too intrusive, but neural beats or rain sounds work too.
  • Asking questions about whatever I’m stuck on (what should come next, how to resolve a situation, the villain’s motivation), and writing answers until something sparks. I’ve found this works even better with a large pad of drawing paper—a white board would also be great if I had the space—and colorful Sharpies.
  • Write some backstory, or just free-write thoughts about the manuscript and what’s going on. Writing begets writing. (And in my case, also triggers revisionist thoughts that help make the story better and move it forward.)
  • If stuck and writing about it hasn’t produced an answer yet, meditate, take a short nap, or go for a walk. Ask the questions before bed, in writing or out loud, and ponder them while falling asleep, or just after waking up.

I don’t think you should take that list as a prescription for your own writing. More as motivation to figure out your own best practices. If you already know, I’d love to hear about it!

Also, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the writer in your life, The Emotion Thesaurus is hands-down the reference book I use the most while writing. It gives me ideas for how to describe the emotion someone is feeling or displaying. What it feels like, where they feel it in the body, and how it manifests physically.

If I could only have one writing book, it would be this one.

I hope your own writing is going well. Have a wonderful holiday!!

Book rec for writers: The Heroine’s Journey

I’m not a plotter, but I still find it useful to study story structure and the craft of writing.

My latest foray into structure is The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. It’s an important counterpoint to the “hero’s journey” approach, and it’s not just for stories about or by women. Written in Carriger’s snarky, irreverent voice, it identifies the key elements of the heroine’s journey, gives examples of its uses in both myth and (some very) popular fiction/media, and discusses how to incorporate it into your own work.

Have you read it? If so, what'd you think? Do you find books on story structure helpful?

New post at WU on Alternate Uses for Scrivener

Did you know you can use Scrivener for more than just writing a novel or memoir? I’ve highlighted a few ideas for you over at WriterUnboxed.com today, and there are more great suggestions in the comments. I hope you’ll stop by to check it out, ask a question, or share your own ways for using Scrivener beyond the manuscript.

And if you’re in the US, have a great Thanksgiving weekend! I’m grateful to all of you for being part of my community, and all the support you’ve given me over the years.

❤️

Oh no NaNo

Late summer and early fall have been busy, busy, busy. Things are starting to calm down, but when I’m not learning to play pickle ball—so much fun!—I’ve basically got my head down working on my current manuscript.

I’ve found the joy in my story again, and I pretty much don’t want to do anything else but work on it these days. Which is how I just today realized that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) already started.

I’m not participating this year since I’m in the middle of a project and don’t want to stop (see previous paragraph), but I am trying to lay down as many words as possible before the end of the year.

How about you? Are you trying your hand at NaNo?

If so, here’s one of the many posts I’ve done on how Scrivener can help you hit your 1667 words/day: Winning NaNoWriMo with Scrivener.

And if you need help with anything else in Scrivener, you can find a list of all my blog posts on the subject at https://gwenhernandez.com/scrivener-tips/.

Upcoming Events

For the next few days I’ll be immersed in a virtual version of my favorite business conference for romance writers (Romance Author Mastermind), and I have a couple of appearances booked for the next few months.

Here’s what’s already on my schedule into the new year.

Whether you’re working toward 50K words this month or not, I hope this message finds you well as we race toward the end of 2021.