Saturday, December 08, 2012

Writer's Workspace -- Leigh Duncan and Her Writer's Camp plus giveaway (US/Can)


PHS is thrilled to have a sneak peak in Harlequin American Romance author Leigh Duncan's Writers' Camp
 
These days, dust coats the desk in my office.  The blinds remain closed, the computer screen darkened.  No, I haven’t stopped writing.  In fact, I’m writing more these days than ever.  But I have found a new process—and new places—to write.  Several of them, actually.

It all started in July of 2011 when I received “the call” from my agent.  Harlequin American Romance had offered a two-book contract for Rodeo Daughter and Rancher’s Son.  The catch?  Tight deadlines.  Very tight deadlines. 

To make them, I’d have to abandon my usual practice of writing a paragraph and playing a game of Spider Solitaire (or maybe two) before writing another paragraph.  I needed more focus, more dedication. 

Enter Candace Havens and her Fast Draft workshop.  Add Lara Santiago, a good friend who had recently learned it was nearly impossible to write at home with two recent graduates underfoot.  Toss in Roxanne St. Claire and Kristen Painter, two more friends writing to tight deadlines...and Writers’ Camp was born.

The four of us began meeting at the library where we’d snag one of the tiny, cramped study rooms. 

We’d turn off our cell phones, plug in our laptops and write one thousand words before we allowed ourselves a lunch break.  Another, longer session followed the lunch hour.  The result—seriously improved word counts and a better chance of meeting our deadlines.

But the room was t-i-n-y, windowless, and often, airless. 




After three months, we trusted our process enough to re-locate.  We started hosting Writer’s Camp at one another’s dining room tables.  Some, like Roxanne’s are elegant. 
Lara’s offers the best view.  And she always provides snacks. 
At Kristen’s, we often have to displace the true owners of the house before we can settle in to work.

No matter where we work, the rules stay the same:

            Arrive on time

            Take 15 minutes for gossip and news before settling in to write

            No phone calls, texts or games allowed

            Everyone must put 1000 words on the page before anyone can break for lunch

                        (And yes, some days tummies rumble!)

            Hit it hard after lunch to meet word count goals for the day

This method won’t work for everyone.  Some writers heard our rules, shook their heads and walked away.  Others have joined us for a day, then decided the process doesn’t work for them.  But wherever you work, whatever your process, consistently meeting goals and deadlines is an important part of writing. 

Today, we’re meeting at my house. 

Care to join us? 

Nearly everyone needs to change their writing environment at one time or another.  Share how you’ve had to adjust your writing schedule, space, or process in order to be more effective for a chance to win a copy of my December Harlequin American Romance, Rancher’s Son. 

Winner will be chosen at random from those who comment.  (Sorry, due to postage costs, shipping addresses are limited to US or Canada only). 
 

Romance author Leigh Duncan spent years moving about the country, but now calls Central Florida’s east coast her home.  Rancher’s Son is her fourth book for Harlequin American Romance. Rodeo Daughter, was an RT Magazine Top Pick! for June 2012 and was re-released in a Larger Print edition for the sight-impaired.  Leigh is a long-time member of Romance Writers of America and serves as the published author (PAN) liaison for the Space Coast Authors of Romance (Florida STAR).  She belongs to several other RWA chapters, including the Washington Romance Writers.  When she isn’t busy writing or helping aspiring authors, Leigh enjoys curling up in her favorite chair with a cup of hot coffee and a great read. To learn more about her, visit www.leighduncan.com

 

 

21 comments:

  1. Leigh, that sounds like a fabulous idea! I'd love it if I could team up with other writers who live near me. Unfortunately, I live on the wrong continent to join you. :-(

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  2. Fiona, maybe we'll visit one another and put our writing process to work together some day. Till then, grab a friend or two and give Writers Camp a try.

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  3. Lovely blog, Leigh. Thanks for sharing your words and your pictures.
    When I write poetry, I could be sitting in the living room ... or at the dining room table ... or standing while making supper ... or pretty well anywhere ... but I will go to my computer to "unscramble.net" when I'm desperate for rhyming words, so I work at my desk for awhile ... but more often than not, my best inspirations come when my husband is driving us at least 15 minutes away, as I turn the radio down low (if it's on at all, depending on my mood) and tap the beat out continually.
    I usually leave my Christmas year-in-review poem until mid December, as I've said that "things happen" in December, and I don't want to miss anything in my yearly update. This year I STUPIDLY decided to write it during the last week in November. My SIL had died in late Oct from cancer complications (she had just turned 50) and a woman I called Mom had died in late Nov (when her heart just stopped), so I figured I'd get it over with and write it then (on my way to the gravesite, of all things). Wrong. This past Monday another SIL was diagnosed with bone cancer (she's 58), so I rewrote the poem. Last night my MIL went to the hospital in severe pain (but later learned it basically was in her head, as she has Alzheimer's) - but the result is the same: her blood pressure spiked to "well over 200", so there was still the chance of her not surviving her ordeal. Jeesh. Do I really want to mail my poem now? Well.... I gave two cards to my BFFs on the weekend, before I had to rewrite the poem, and now I'm holding out till the end of this week to make sure there are no further changes. Thankfully I'm not printing them directly onto the cards this year, but decided to take the easy way out and glue them into the cards instead (as Christmas cards are thicker and often turn sideways in the printer).
    Sorry about the length of this comment.

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    1. Laney4, I'm so sorry you're having to deal with all this. And during the holidays makes it even more difficult. Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family. I hope your poetry brings you some measure of peace.

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  4. Writer's Camp Rules!
    I love seeing all our dining room tables here. Makes me feel like I should pack up my laptop and get into my writing zone. :)
    Cool blog, Leigh.

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    1. Sit down and give me a thousand words, Lara! LOL

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  5. I enjoyed seeing those pictures, Leigh. Some were more familiar than others. :) Writer's Camp sounds like a great way to get words on the paper.
    I found I write best first thing in the morning and can't stop until the entire scene/chapter is done. Having a lunch break would only work for me if it happened between chapters. But that is the great thing about writing. The process can be different for everyone.

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    1. And the process can change. Deadlines, story lines, illness or even success can force us to adapt to new schedules, new workspaces or to find a new approach entirely.

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  6. I love your idea of writers camp. Writing is such a solitary endeavor it's nice to have someone to share the process with occasionally. I enjoyed your blog, Leigh.

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    1. One of the great things about Writers Camp is that it does let us see we're not alone in this quest for putting (good) words on the page.

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  7. Writer's Camp! Great idea. At CFRW we have a write-in after each monthly meeting and I enjoy that, but still prefer to write in my study.

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    1. We've done the same thing at my home RWA chapter, STAR, a couple of times. And it works...as long as everyone stays focused. But all it takes is one or two people to get antsy or start whispering and that's enough to throw me completely out of the story. For Writers Camp to work, it's important that everyone have the same goals, the same work ethic.

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  8. What a GREAT idea! Love it! Go girls! Caroline x

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    1. Glad you think so, Caroline. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  9. I agree that a change in setting is a good idea.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. bn100,
      I'm not saying change just for the sake of changing, but if you're present set-up stops working for you, don't be afraid to change things up. Whatever helps you get the story down on paper, do it.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry I was out of touch today, everyone. At the last minute, hubby and I got drafted to fill in for a couple of members in a bluegrass band today (hubby's the real musician, but they needed both of us). Seminole Rest, a beautiful park in Oak Hill, FL, was out of cell phone and internet range so I wasn't able to respond to your posts as quickly as I'd have liked.

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  11. Leigh, what a great way to work. I love the fact that you're all mobile and focused. The emphasis is on the writing rather than the surroundings. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Enjoyed reading the comments and ideas. I accumulate so much stuff on my writing desk, I try to eliminate at least 4 items from it at the end of the week. Downsizing is the way to go.
    JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com

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  13. Congratulations to Fiona Harper and Karen! Each of you have won an autographed copy of Rancher's Son. Please email your US or Canadian mailing address to me at leigh@leighduncan.com, and I'll put your prize in the mail right after the holidays.

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