Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged wip
Late Nights in Bookstores

I'm having a book hangover. Unfortunately the source is said hangover is my own book. You guys, I'm plotting out The Set Up, and while I'm excited for all the sexy juice bar goodness (and you should be too), I really miss the guys from The Hang Up and the cozy world of their bookstore. And then the Facebook gods bestowed this little gem on me, and you should all watch it right now!


I saw this video five years ago, and it's just as magical today. This bookstore is even in Toronto! I might go check it out and pretend Seb is lurking just behind the next shelf!

What's the last book that gave you a hangover?


No New Ideas

jan-mellstrom-242087.jpg Nearly done editing (for now), which means I'm going back to drafting Martin and Seb. I'll introduce you to them properly soon, but the basic premise is this:

Martin is an out of work university professor who's come to Red Creek to live with his brother. The only job he can get is working part time at Dog Ears Used Book Store. It's humiliating that it's come to this, but he'll manage. What he doesn't plan on is the prickly artist who lives upstairs from the store, Seb.

Seb has his own view of things. His work involves cutting up the unsellable books at Dog Ears and turning them into something new. Martin prizes the written word above everything, and Seb's work doesn't sit well with him. Seb sees Martin as just another academic snob.

You can guess what happens.

I'd seen carved books online before I started writing Seb and Martin, and was fascinated with the way they made me feel. Books and the stories they tell have been a part of my life for as long as I remember. As a writer with a growing career, I'm learning to appreciate, in a whole new way, the effort it takes to create a story. But is the book the story? Martin would say every book is sacred. Seb says a book is just a consumer product and we shouldn't get so hung up on the medium.

I don't claim to be covering new ground with this argument. It's a debate that happens all over the place. Artists and academics, people who don't go anywhere without their Kindle and people who never throw a book away. The whole used bookstore industry exists because of the guilt that we feel at the thought of throwing out a book, but go find your local used bookstore and ask them what happened to the zillions of copies of 50 Shades of Grey people dropped off in 2012.

Seb carves books into something new. New words, new images, new ways for Alice to go through the looking glass. I hope what he's doing is a little bit unique, but there are artists all over the world who work in this medium. The reason I'm writing this blog post is because it turns out one of them has a TED Talk. What he has to say about his work and about the future of books is so thought-provoking. It might also be a little bit like looking at the inside of Seb's head, but you'll have to wait for his story to find out!

August Rundown

julia-raasch-143428.jpg Holy hell. Was that all one month? It seems impossible that five weeks ago I was technically an unsigned author, and now this. In case you missed all the excitement (or in case I wonder why I'm exhausted), here's a rundown of the things that happened this month.

  • August started a few days early when I signed my contract with Riptide on July 21. They wanted an MS to start editing by August 9, and thus writing went into overdrive.
  • I accidentally set a sweet potato on fire in the microwave, and thus the meet cute for Red Creek book 4 (assuming I survive writing books 1-3 and Riptide lets me write book 4) was born.
  • I started and finished my #10daysto20k challenge, surpassing all expectations by crossing the 30k mark on The Hang Up
  • I went on to write a total of 46,000 words on The Hang Up, Seb and Martin's story. How many of those words see the light of publication remains to be seen.
  • I read Wolfsong at 2 am and proceeded to swoon over Ox and Joe for weeks.
  • I accidentally started a book club. The results (as seen on my Facebook page) were hilarious and Canadian and we are definitely going to do it again.
  • Edits arrived from Riptide (already!?) and I have re-read the Pick Up, Kyle and Adam's story, three times this week. You're going to love them both so much. (If you haven't been formally introduced, you can meet Kyle here, and Adam here). Also, I am in awe of editors and the things they can see in what I thought was an otherwise pretty shiny manuscript.
  • After months (okay, years) of prodding from friends and co-workers, I started listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno. I think there's a blog post coming about it, especially about what it's bad for indie authors, but as a piece of entertainment, it's hilarious and you should all listen, but only with headphones and after the kids have gone to bed.
  • I got my first ever piece of fan mail (see Twitter for my squeeing)! You're all awesome!

For non-writing events, I also made three different kinds of jam, survived terrifying summer storms, went to a food and musical festival and a soccer game with my husband, managed to hang on to my day job for yet another month, and watched in horror as white supremacists marched through parts of the US and Hurricane Harvey put much of coastal Texas underwater.

These are the reasons I'm exhausted. One can only wait to see what September will bring! So far, more edits, more writing, a football game, headshots, and prep for GRL!

The Finish Line(ish) (10 Days to 20k, Day 10)

road-908176_1920.jpg Well. That's it folks. Except not really. I crossed 30k in 10 days today. I didn't think that was even possible when I left the office 10 days ago. I'd put my hands up and cry like an Olympic sprinter, except I haven't really finished anything. My best estimate is I've got 40k to go to get to the end of this draft, and I already know I have to completely rewrite Martin's back story for the first 30k or so.

No one said novel writing is easy.

Here are the things I've learned over the last 10 days and 30,000 words

  • Writing is work. If you want to finish writing in a timely manner, understand you've got to put the work in.
  • I write best when I'm writing fast. I'd written about 30k when I started 10 days ago. It had taken a little over 3 months to write. I had no confidence in this story, because it had no momentum and neither did I. Now, I know where this is going, and I know there's some good bits in here.
  • Just keep writing. I don't correct typos when I'm drafting. If my your and you're are out of place, if my characters right an email instead of writing an email, tough. I'll fix them later. Ain't nobody got time right now.
  • A Pomodoro timer is awesome. 25 minutes on, 5 minutes to surf the internet. My tiny attention span is a problem when I'm writing at home. The timer was a great way to keep me working even when I wanted to see if anything new had happened on Twitter in the last 5.2 milliseconds.
  • Your mileage may vary. Writing is not a race or a contest. If you take 10 days off to write, you might write 30k too. But you might write 300 words, or 60k. I am not your guru. Celebrate your successes, whatever they are.

I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm a baby writer with a tiny fledgling career. I sent Kyle and Adam to Riptide to start editing today. I have no idea what that means really, except sometime in the next several months, I'll get an email with my document all marked to hell and I'll have to do something about it. The 30k this week means hopefully I'll have time to balance both works in progress when that happens.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 10 Words Written Today: 3,820 Total Words Written: 30,451 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 152%

The Home Stretch (10 Days to 20k, Day 9)

patrick-fore-41134.jpg Back at it today. For realz.

I wrote about homes today. Seb drove Martin to his childhood home. It didn't go well because Act 2, drama, blah blah blah.

I'm going home tomorrow, except I've been home all week. When does your parent's home stop being yours? I haven't lived here full time in 17 years. It's gotta be soon, right?

When I came up with this challenge, I thought 2000 words a day was aggressive but doable. It turns out I can do that in about an hour and a half if I don't have many interruptions and my synopsis is solid. 4000 words is aggressive, and requires shutting out most of the people around me for the day. That will be harder to do when I get home and have to do things like go to work and talk to my husband. But the point is, at 2000 words a day, a 120k first draft can be written in two months. That's crazy to me, but apparently achievable, particularly if I give myself some room for gravy on the weekends.

Fortunately, I like gravy and my weekends are often quiet.

Tomorrow is the last day. I've got a three hour train ride home. I could hit 30k if I really push it. I'm traveling with an eight-year-old, so we'll see how that goes.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 9 Words Written Today: 4143 Total Words Written: 26,631 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 133%


A Day of (Not) Rest (10 Days to 20k, Day 8)

bed-linen-1149842_1920 Sometimes the best laid plans go astray.

Sometimes a freak storm blows water under the doors of your house and twists the tops off three trees in the yard.

And then sometimes you (understandably) struggle to sleep at 2 am when the next storm hits and wind starts moaning outside your windows.

And sometimes, about 3 hours later you're still awake, reading werewolf novels to keep from worrying.

And sometimes, trying to function on four hours of sleep, the words just don't come.

All this to say, there weren't many words today, despite my carefree post yesterday. I can still make 30k before the end of this challenge, but it will take some work. But then again, writing is work, so that's probably just as well.

Also, if gay werewolves and strong first person POV are your jam, read Wolf Song by TJ Klune...but maybe not at 2 am. It's a great story and has much better lists than mine.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 8 Words Written Today: 534 Total Words Written: 22,488 Words Left: 0 Percent Complete: 112%

The View from Here (10 Days to 20k, Day 6)

IMG_0108.JPG That sound you hear? The Jaws-theme-like music of something creeping up ominously behind you? That's me, creeping up on my goal with shark-like determination. I'm seriously so close I want to write 200 more words just so I can say I completed my challenge in six days, but I stopped in a good place where it should be fairly easy to pick up tomorrow, so it's probably better if I just stand here, Peter Pan style, with my legs apart and my hands on my hips, looking dead proud at what I've accomplished.

I don't think I've ever written so many words so fast in my entire life. I'm going to try to hit 30k before I get home next Monday. If I could take a couple more weeks off, I'd probably finish this draft completely, but let's not get too silly right?

Here's the thing: Thank god for my synopsis. When I plot, I write out every single scene in a list. Just 2-3 sentences per scene, so I know what happens next. Sometimes I move them around. Sometimes I get to that part of the story and realize that scene doesn't make sense or isn't needed anymore. Sometimes I go off-road for a couple scenes before I find my way back.

But the synopsis means when I'm drafting fast, I never have to stop to figure out what happens next, because I already did that months ago.

I know writers have different feelings about outlines and plotting, but I honestly don't know how you could write a usable first draft if you don't do some up front planning work. If you're one of those people who can, please, share your wizardry with me!

PS - today there was some actual kissing! Yes, despite the fact that I write romances, sometimes it takes my characters FOREVER to get around to actual kissing. I'm hovering at the 50k mark, and this is the first lip lock. I promise it will happen faster by the time you get to read this.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 6 Words Written Today: 5,045 Total Words Written: 19,843 Words Left: 157 Percent Complete: 99%

Writing on an Iron Stomach (10 Days to 20k, Day 5)

IMG_1597 In sixth grade, my mom came as a volunteer to my school and taught everyone in my class how to touch type. I have no idea if this is a skill still taught these days. It smacks of secretarial pools, but I gotta say it's been invaluable in my lifetime. It means I wrote papers at school faster than my classmates, and it's meant turning out reports on time at work, even when the crunch is on.

More importantly, it means I can type in a moving vehicle without puking my guts out, because I can look around, even as my brain and my fingers are generating stories.

Key skill. If you're a writer on the go, learn it. If you're one of those people who gets motion sick just thinking about this idea, I am very sorry. I don't know how I would cope.

I said a couple days ago I would talk about my planner. I meant to do it yesterday, but I was covered in family, so there wasn't really time for me to do it properly. I did mention yesterday that I've been part of Shaunta Grimes' Ninja Writers community for a little over a year and a half. Shaunta's tools have been invaluable to me, and one of the things she swears by is an Erin Condren LifePlanner. I try to keep my life organized on my phone, but as I stared down the barrel of finishing two books in the next twelve months, I knew I was going to need something to keep all my thoughts and ideas together.

I looked at the LifePlanners, but I admit they're pricey, especially once you work in the exchange rate to my Canadian dollar and the cost of shipping. But, lo and behold, I was at my local bookstore a couple weeks ago, and didn't they have knock off LifePlanners with all the pages I needed!

img_1567.jpgReader, I bought one. I thought the cover was appropriate as I launch my baby writing career.

The inside goes from August 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. I doubt everything will be written, edited, and published by then, but I'll be well on my way. Each month gets a calendar-at-a-glance page where I keep track of daily word counts, important dates (publisher deadlines, conferences, days I know I'll get no writing done), and then there are note pages for each day where I can make notes to my future drafting self and editing self on things I need to remember. Sometimes they're little things like what colour are Sebastien's eyes????,  and other times they're more weighty questions like what the hell is the point of this scene???? Either way, they're good to have in one place.

How do you keep yourself organized?

We spent about six hours in the car today. I hit over 4,000 words. I'm starting to think I should have set a higher goal. 10 days to 30k? Can we do it?

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 5 Words Written Today: 4,049 Total Words Written: 14,798 Words Left: 5,202 Percent Complete: 74%

On the Road (10 Days to 20k, Day 4)

20525952_1827568790891004_6562911098027768361_n.jpg Short day today. We hit the road early to spend the day with family in Stratford, one of Ontario's theatre meccas. Fortunately, my chauffeur likes driving. I had to marry to get him to drive full time, but it meant I squeezed in a few words.

A year and a half ago, I met Shaunta Grimes. She's a multi-talented writer and teacher. Her theory is that you set small goals and do it every day. 10 minutes. 500 words. I knew today wasn't going to be a big word day, so I told myself to just try to write 500 on the drive. The nice thing about small goals is they're easy to hit, and often times by the time you've hit them, you've picked up some momentum and want to keep going. I'm going to need more than 500 words a day to meet my goal of getting this draft done by October, but on the days when I know I won't write much with mitigating circumstances, hitting a small goal makes me feel like I've still accomplished something.

What's one small goal you can set?

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 4 Words Written Today: 1,073 Total Words Written: 10,749 Words Left: 9,251 Percent Complete: 54%

Terrible Short Stories (10 Days to 20k, Day 3)

clock-1461689_1920 I gotta say, I'm really loving the Pomodoro timer. It means I write and don't think about time, if that makes sense. The iPad does it for me, which gives me more brain room for words.

Ray Bradbury recommends writing a short story every week for a year, because it is impossible to write 52 terrible short stories in a row.

Today's words definitely fall on the not-so-great side of terrible, but not every day can win you a Pulitzer. The point is, I showed up and moved the story forward. Seb even asked Martin on a date! Martin of course totally misread the signals, but what's a romance without a little delayed gratification? We are well and truly into the mushy middle and there's nothing written that can't be fixed in edits.

More importantly, I'm well over 9,000 words so far in this challenge. Almost halfway in the first three days. I've got family commitments tomorrow, so I might be a bit short in the word count department, but at least I prepared for it!

I'm going to talk a bit more about preparation and accountability tomorrow though, because tomorrow is August 1 and I get to bust out my shiny new project planner!! I never thought I'd be so excited about a coil bound calendar, but somehow this is my life.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 3 Words Written Today: 2,609 Total Words Written: 9,676 Words Left: 10,324 Percent Complete: 48%

Hangover Edition (10 Days to 20k, Day 2)

At 36, I'm getting old. I know there are some of you who will roll your eyes at this statement, but we all have to acknowledge that at any age, there are things we could do ten years ago that we can't do anymore.

Like stay up until 2 am, and still be a fully functioning adult the next day.

An old university friend talked me into going out last night to see an old cover band that used to play at our school regularly. We hadn't seen them in probably close to ten years and in that time it turns out we've all...well...aged. Me, her, the band. We're all a bit slower and bit a greyer.

I cut myself off at two drinks and told people it was because I can't write hungover. This is true, but even without the alcohol hangover, it was a slow day. Turns out taking the last subway home makes for a late night. Also, it turns out 'because writing' is a totally plausible excuse for just about anything when hanging out with non-writers. Writing is a mysterious craft and if you blame just about any behaviour on writing, many people will believe you.

A little mushroom toast and much coffee later, I felt up to tackling more words. I was worried about another kind of hangover though. After a very successful day yesterday, I was worried it wouldn't flow so well today. But I got myself set up. Laptop, pomodoro timer, feline critique partner. Off I went.

I wrote about an awkward brunch and found new conflict points. Martin's finally pushing back, and Seb's maybe deciding to be less of an asshole. There might be a romance in here after all.

Best part is, I'm checking off scenes on my outline one by one. I was worried that I'd overwrite the hell out of this story, but I'm becoming increasingly confident that 20,000 words really will take me to the halfway point of this story.

Live and hope.

Now, for a nap! I'm too old for this shit.

10 Days to 20k Summary Day: 2 Words Written Today: 3,391 Total Words Written: 7,067 Words Left: 12,933 Percent Complete: 35%