Forget What You Thought Was Reality...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Best Friends--Books

Good Afternoon One & All,

Today's topic: books (not necessarily works-in-progress or our manuscripts, but books in general):

There's something so friendly about a well-loved book. I've maintained for years that books are some of my best friends:

1. They will never, ever betray you

2. They're always there (even if they're hiding) for you.

Whether you're in a crisis, having a great day, a book you really enjoy has the power to both comfort or lift you up.

The feel of a well-worn cover...the pages, sometimes even the smell is as familair as a human friend.

Obviously it's not the same as having a human friend, but they certain do offer a certain level of comfort and understanding.

You know where you stand with a book. You know whether it's one you've loved for years, or one you just met, or one you decided wasn't one you want to read again. Either way, you know what the story is, and you know exactly how to react and how to be around that book.

While I'd never trade in my human friends by any stretch of the imagination, I am glad I also have books to turn to...whether I'm happy, sad, scared or secure. I know they're there.

What about you? What is it you love about books? Do you have ones with well-worn covers and crinkled pages that "speak" about endless rereading?

Have A Warm-Hearted Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"I Have The Power!"

Good Morning Folks,

For those of you who have seen (or remember) the He-Man and She-Ra cartoons of the 1980's those words in the title of this post should be familiar to you (it's what they said after they changed into their powerful alter-egos).

So, what's an author's "power"?

Generally it's the author's greatest strength. Something that gives the author that extra oomph. Oftentimes, it's the ability to create great descriptions, or fabulous dialogue. Or just simply the uncanny ability to draw a reader in (I'm going to cite Stephenie Meyer here as someone who can definitely draw a reader in).

As to dialogue, Kerrelyn Sparks has some humorous dialogue. Kim Lenox creates some really good description. Character--Laura Childs--I still want to know what happens next with Theodosia Browning.

Someone like Nicholas Sparks created a story of tender love and care in A Walk To Remember. For me, John Grisham ups the suspense in his novels.

Weaving sci-fi with romance, Ciara Gold (she had a balance of both. Although, generally sci-fi spaceship inner workings gets me lost since I'm no engineer--although, I do know how to pump my own gas into my vehicle (a talent, to be sure LOL)...but I always can understand sacrifice for one's loved ones--which was one of the themes in her novel, Celestial Dragon). When it comes to spaceships, seeing them on the big screen or TV is easier for me than reading about them. (She has several e-books out, but Celestial Dragon is also in print).

So, that brings me to myself. My greatest strength? I think it's my imagination. I'm able to come up with ideas and way to put them into print by imagining the scene--by imagining what the characters do, say, look like and act. What motivates them. What they're afraid of and what gives them courage.

Like with Surreal--oftentimes I could picture in vague images what the characters would do--but I could definitely "hear" what they'd say. Then I'd take that idea and adjust it for the story. That's generally how that one moved along when I was writing it.

With Conjure A Man--similar thing, except most of the time I come up with my ideas as I write, rather than when I'm laying in bed (which was my problem with Surreal. I'd be trying to go to sleep and ideas would pop in--and I'd have to dream up the whole scene before I could go to sleep!)

When I came up with Conjure A Man my imagination took flight in my dreams. That usually doesn't happen to me. So the next morning I grabbed a piece of paper and pen and scribbled down the general synopsis and then got breakfast and off I went. Now that I'm reconstructing it's starting to take a more precise shape than it did in the beginning.

But it all starts with my imagination.

So what's your "power"? What's your greatest strength--the thing that drives your stories forward? Is it dialogue? Or description? Imagination? Dreams? Is it inspiration that hits as you're thinking/reading/doing something else?

Have A Tremendous Tuesday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Being All Powerful--NOT

Good Morning,

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Mine was pretty good. Not real eventful (other than the fact my husband got annoyed with football, but since I don't really follow football that much, I didn't have as emotional reaction to the Miami Hurricanes losing or the Texans losing). Sports aren't my forte...well, I do like baseball. That's pretty cool...although my team didn't do so well this season *insert puckered lower lip here*.

However, I'm not going to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of a particular team, I'm going to bring it closer to home:

A writer's weaknesses.
Of course, none of us want to think about them. We'd rather overcome them. Which, is exactly what a writer should do to improve one's writing. However, before you overcome them, you have to recognize them. Admit to yourself what points are your strongest and what points aren't.
For me, I tend to go heavy on the dialogue and not so much on description. I know books need a balance of the two, but I find myself wanting to focus more on what the characters are thinking and doing rather than the descriptions of things.
However, writers need to "anchor" their readers. Unless it's one of those books where "floating around in the dark" is important, a reader needs to know where the character is and have some idea of what the surroundings look like (or are, for that matter).
It's not that I don't like describing things, it's just that I don't want to go overboard. I want to make sure that I have a balance. Make sure my characters and readers are anchored in the scene, but also without going to extremes.
Writers have to make sure they place the character and reader firmly in the scene. Sometimes surroundings are important to influencing the action or even the dialogue. So we need descriptions. Which is why I have to remind myself to use description as well as action and dialogue. Make the story, the characters real.
So, what's your weakness? What is it that you have to remind yourself to do?
Have A Melodious Monday!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This Sundae

Evening All,

I haven't really anything real inspired to write tonight. Got a lot on my mind.

The other day I did some writing on Conjure A Man since I finished going through it from page 1. It helped to remind myself a bit. I probably need to add some description, but otherwise, I think it's making some progress.

I've been doing A LOT of reading this weekend. I finished the Kerrelyn Sparks book and I'm about (or nearly) 1/2 done with The Host by Stephenie Meyers.

How about y'all? What's the weekend been like? Did you have fun?

Have A Stupendous Sunday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday In My World

Good Afternoon All,

Last night I took a trip into my female main character, Delaney's world. I'm doing some editing on the pages I already have written and contemplating what's happening next. Got to meet her family all over again (the patronizing cousin, the disapproving mother, the suspicious cousin-in-law, et cetera).

This morning I was doing some reading (The Host by Stephenie Meyer is quite long--over 1,000 pages and I have other books I need to read, too, so I'm multi-tasking). Sci-fi isn't my usual fare, but I was curious about the story. It's a little eerie contemplating the idea of an alien body taking over human bodies. Like I said, not things I normally read. But, not a bad idea to expand one's horizons.

I've also gotten started on reading Secret Life Of A Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks. I've just barely started it, but so far it's fun.

Anybody watching the new CW show, The Vampire Diaries based off of L.J. Smith's books? Sometimes that show gives me the shivers. LOL. I haven't read the books, so I don't know how closely the show is portraying the actual story. In any case, I bet it's exciting to see one's characters come alive.

So what are you plans today? Reading, writing, hanging out with family/friends? Relaxing? Catching up on movie watching?

Either way...

Have A Supremely Super Saturday!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading Author

Good Morning One & All,

Kudos go to J.J. for inspiring this post! She talked about writers also being readers and wanting to know what they're reading, so, I thought I'd post about it. As well as the different viewpoints regarding reading.

I actually put what I'm reading in the right hand margin of this blog. Currently nothing is listed because I had to wait on some books to be available. I'm picking them up today. On that list is Laura Childs' Eggs In Purgatory, Stephenie Meyer's The Host, and Kerrelyn Sparks' Secret Life Of A Vampire.

Reading for an author is an opportunity for many things: enjoyment, learning, and knowing what's out there (particularly what might be selling well or what isn't selling as well). It's an education while being fun.

Nathan Bransford posed the question of an author being well-read in his post on Wednesday. The comment section had a whole bunch of points of view and opinions.

Some people have a different idea about a "well-read author" and some people don't think it's important at all and others think it's very important. So, what's your particular view? Do you think reading (even if it's not necessarily within an author's genre) important? What do you get out of reading? Do you like to read or do you view it as just part of the job?

A lot of times I like escaping into a different world and seeing the possibilities within that place. But a writer can really learn something from other authors.

Have A Fantastical Friday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kicking Around Ideas

Good Morning One & All,

So, have you ever seen those things...the t-shirts and pins that say stuff like "Be careful or else you'll end up in my novel" or "Be careful or else you'll end up in my blog". Pretty funny, but if you think about it, there's some truth in those quotes.

We writers pull from practically anything and everything. Someone might say something really cool and overhearing it, the author in our heads says "Ooo! Ooo! Must remember that, totally awesome." And we're off and running on ideas.

But, you know, sometimes someone says something awesome and our author brains can't help wondering "How would I work that into a story? Who would say that and why?" Click. Click. Click. Our minds become saturated with possibilities.

Most of the time authors come up with their own dialogue and sayings, ideas, but every now and again we hear something that makes us sit up and pay attention--even closer than we were. You never know what might trigger inspiration.

It's all about kicking writing butt. We want to put our best foot forward. Sometimes it means satirizing our own lives or taking a situation and turning it into an incredible story. A writer never knows what might come his or her way.

We have to keep our eyes and ears open for anything that gives us inspiration. Reading, paying attention to our surroundings, and letting our minds spin with the whole "what-could-be's" Impossibilities become possible when an author pays attention.

So, what about yourself? Is it something you read, see, hear, or just a flight of fancy that gets your mind going? Do you look around you to see what might inspire you?

Have A Thoughtful Thursday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

360 Days Clever

Good Morning Folks,

Last night I was bemoaning my writers' block to my husband. "Even my blog hasn't been very clever today!" I exclaimed. He replied, "Well, you can't be clever every day." I said, "But, I want to be clever every day." My husband held me close, while buried my face in his shoulder and said, "You can be clever 360 days of the year." I said, "So, 5 days out of the year my brain takes a vacation?" He said, "Yes." Basically he let me know it was okay if I wasn't entirely witty all 365 days of the year. That off-days were just fine.

Unfortunately, I'm not exactly happy about going through a "dry spell". Last night in an effort to alleviate this problem, I began re-reading Conjure A Man from the first chapter on. I haven't finished, but I did manage to make some edits and start getting a grasp for the story again.

Perhaps this is what I've been needing to do with Surreal. Start at the beginning and then go through until the proverbial light bulb flicks on and inspiration lightning hits. After all, I want to give both my stories a "fair shake". They're the same in the sense that they're paranormal/fantasy romances, but different in the sense of how they're told and what types of characters they have.

So what about you? Are you clever 365 days out of the year or does your brain take a vacation every so often? Do you re-read your manuscripts to grasp the story again or do you stare blankly that the screen hoping for something to show?

Have A Wonderful-Working Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Joys & Sorrows

Good Afternoon All,

The greatest joys for an author is when they finish a manuscript and getting published. But before that happens, there's little moments of triumph and agony.

Times when the story just flows from the fingertips, moments when the characters are most engaging, falling in love with the story for the first time, times of big flashes of inspiration, et cetera.

Sorrows come when an author is struggling with a plot point, or when something isn't fitting...or if the story just doesn't want to "behave" itself. A character can be acting unlike his or herself, or scene the author likes has to be cut.

But despite all this, most of the time a writer comes back to why he or she is writing in the first place:

Could it be because said author just can't help it?

Maybe the author in question feels compelled to write--like the story is just bursting out from inside the writer.

Whatever the reasons, an author needs a reason to write.

So what are your reasons for writing? What are some of your greatest joys and deepest sorrows when writing?

Have A Thrill-Filled Tuesday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Couldn't Put The Book Down

Good Afternoon everyone,

Most people have at least one. You know, that book that you've read, loved, fantasized over the possibilities of what happened to the characters after "The End". Books that inspire, touch our hearts, leave us wanting more. Or even books that leave us perfectly satisfied after the last page.

For me, there's several on my list that fit several of those descriptions.

I've read Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice at least 3 times. Mr. Darcy...awesome, awesome. And I do like the BBC's miniseries that did a good job of portraying the book.

I read Maureen Daly's Seventeenth Summer over and over again as a teenager (well at least twice, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more than twice LOL).

I've devoured Lurlene McDaniel's books, particularly Don't Die My Love, reading and re-reading them over and over; particularly A Rose For Melinda.

I've read Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy at least twice, if not more, as well as Friday's Child more than once. (Still love both books). Also, Sylvester Or The Wicked Uncle at least twice. (Just laughed reading The Grand Sophy, Sophy was a funny character). Or, of course, These Old Shades (also excellent).

I've read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga twice all the way through (especially in preparation for The Twilight Saga: New Moon movie coming out in November). I thought the series was fun, and one of those that has the power to pull the reader into the story.

Of course, there's the books that we read once, but we love every single of them so much, that when another comes out in the series we have to rush out and buy them.

For me this includes Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries. I simply have to know what's going to happen with Theodosia and I own every one of the Mysteries up to the most recent published one (Oolong Dead).

Or there's ones that you enjoy because the characters grab your attention and the dialogue is witty. Kerrelyn Sparks' Love At Stake makes me laugh out loud.

Ciara Gold got me to decide that I could read a Sci-Fi novel when I picked up Celestial Dragon. (I liked the elements of futuristic being weaved with more historical type significance).

Or take me on a ride through different possibilities in Historical England when I read Kim Lenox's Night Falls Darkly. (I found her work quite imaginative).

Of course, there's Nicholas Sparks' A Walk To Remember, that I just can't get over. I've read several of his novels and so far that one is my favorite. I even own the movie starring Mandy Moore and Shane West.

There are just some books out there that grab you and hang on. There's ones that I sit there and think "That was just a gentle read. Just a nice story with a nice ending." Richard Paul Evans' Christmas Box series and several of his other novels have done that for me. He writes gently--everything is just heartstrings and pure human emotion.

There's several other books I could mention, but that would make this post super long and I don't want to bore anyone LOL.

But I can only hope that one day--if I'm so blessed as to be published (and even before being published) people will say that about my novels, "I couldn't put it down!" things like "I loved it." Or even "So and so character cracked me up." Or, "I want more, what happens now???" I have some people saying that when I let them read (or read aloud) any of my manuscripts to tell me what they think...and every time it makes me smile...I feel like I'm glowing. It's high praise and I'm extremely delighted every time someone says "I really liked thus and so character" or "That part where thus and so thing happened was great." Or "This scene was fabulous." Of course, constructive criticism in order for me to improve is always a good thing, but I do like those nice compliments, too. I wouldn't mind having a novel out that people couldn't put down. I'd consider it a great gift.

So tell me, what are the books you read that either you read over and over again or you just love so much you can't help but gush over the story, characters, et cetera? What about your own writing? Whether published or unpublished has someone said they just loved your work?

Have A Marvelous Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Get Thee A Nom De Plume!

Good Evening One & All,

Shakespeare wrote in Romeo & Juliet, "What's in a name?...A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Disney talked about names in Aladdin in the lyrics, "Better get a nom de plume." (the song, "One Jump").

So, for a writer, what does a nom de plume (or, pen name) say about the author? It could be a different spelling of the author's name, it could be a name that has a significance. They could keep their first name, but change the last, or change both.

A pen name is also the name a writer will write under for his or her books. The name that his or her readers will recognize them. The name on the autographs and the one where people will say, "Oh yes, that's so and so, they wrote..."

Some authors write under their own names. Others, for a variety of reasons, choose a pen name.

What about you? Are you considering a pen name? What have you looked at when thinking of your nom de plume?

For myself, I'm considering something easy to remember, something that is significant to me.

Have A Satisfying Sunday!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Feel Of Pages

Good Morning Everybody,

Well, this Saturday morning is a bit overcast, but that's okay since it means it's not blisteringly hot. I'm looking forward to the cooler weather. I'm not a huge fan of snow (although growing up I was) so I'm glad that it doesn't usually snow here, but I do like colder weather. There's something so cozy about adding that extra blanket in the bed or putting on long sleeves, a sweater, jacket or sweatshirt. Tossing a scarf around your neck. It's just one of those warm-your-toes-in-front-of-the-fire feeling.

This brings me to the feel of a book (or manuscript) in one's hands. The smooth texture, the sight of words across the page (blank pages are hard to deal with, as most of you well know!) Reveling in having an adventure in your hands. It's heady stuff.

One of the reasons why I adore bookstores and libraries. All those shelves and shelves covered in books. It's nirvana for a writer because writers are also readers. All the many options, the choices, the selection! Aside from actually having a polished manuscript ready to go (and an acceptance letter from an agent and/or publisher) there's no better feeling for a writer. Obviously there's no way to embody the myriad of emotions a writer feels when his or her work is going to be published (I have yet to achieve that "golden moment" as I call it, but I have hopes to one day).

Until then I settle for enjoying each little accomplishment. A story coming together, a character I've fallen in love with and the excitement of entering a bookstore or a library on any given day. (Especially bookstores! I love being able to purchase a book I want to read).

Okay, maybe I sound a bit obsessive, but honestly, I can't help it. I love books. I love reading books, I love writing books, I love making up characters and meeting others' characters, the whole thing is just where I feel I've found my little niche in the world. (I know, I've overused the word 'love' but oh well LOL).

Granted, I'm blessed to have my son and my husband and family and friends, but outside of that, it's wonderful to know the writing and reading world exists. Open to possibilities, impossibilities and everything in between.

What's your favorite part about holding a book in your hands and/or holding a manuscript in your hands?

Have A Splendid Saturday!

Friday, September 18, 2009

An Everyday Work Day

Good Morning One & All,

It's Friday. For some that means weekend is right around the corner. Although, my husband is working part of Saturday, so Sunday will be his weekend. I appreciate that he is so responsible and loves me and my son so much that he wants to provide for us as best he can. Good traits in a man! In any case, for those of you that don't work on Saturdays, I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy yourselves :-)

Last night I was doing some work on Conjure A Man. It's coming together and I'm really happy with the reconstruction. I'm beginning to think this is a more viable solution for the story and that it leaves options open to me that weren't there originally. So, as a writer, gotta love that. I plan to work on it more today.

Regina M. has the read the Prologue for Surreal and mentioned she had some comments for me. So, I'm looking forward to receiving that email to see if she says stuff that I had already thought of, or gives options that I hadn't considered. For now, I'm still playing with some ideas for Surreal. I probably need to go through and read it all the way through. I'm contemplating having the whole story be told from Monroe's point of view. I'm also thinking of getting rid of the first person present tense. But I haven't solidified either of those decisions, yet. My editor gave me some good edits that I've also taken into consideration. Gonna have to do more edits on this mss. Something might "click" while I'm working on it.

Next month I'll get to attend one last chapter meeting of RWA before I have to join. I'm going to join the RWA as soon as I can, then looking at joining the chapter in January. The workshop I'm attending towards the end of October is also sponsored by the chapter of the RWA that I want to join. Very excited.

There was a comment made about the title of The Complete Idiots Guide To Getting Published. Please, I beg you, do not let the title throw you. Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander are both professionals in the book business--Sheree Bykofsky has a literary agency and has written nonfiction. Jennifer Basye Sander is an author and packager. They've both been in the business for a long time. They have several helpful hints and information that used in tandem with other materials can be helpful.

There's another good book out there with information for writers, Jeff Herman's Guide To Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents (get the most up-to-date edition available, I have the 2009 edition). by Jeff Herman. I don't recall seeing information on writers' groups in it, but it's still a helpful book. A lot of information in that book, by the way.

Have A Fruitful Friday! ("Fruitful" as in getting a lot done :-) ).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Writers' Group

Happy Night-Time Folks,

This quick little resource post is triggered by Regina (Kudos award goes to her this time!) She was talking about wanting to find a writers' group.

One thing I recommended was finding the most recent (or the 4th edition) of The Complete Idiots' Guide To Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander.

Come to think of it, that's where I first saw the information about Romance Writers' Of America, although, I did end up searching on the internet and learning more about the RWA and the chapter I want to join when I was looking for Conferences near where I live.

Just be sure that when you're looking things up the phone numbers and sites are updated. I tried to call a number once that was listed in a book for a group and the number was wrong.

Here's some info on writers' groups (including the RWA):

Sisters In Crime (for mystery writers)

National Writers Union (for all genres--free-lance writers).

The Authors Guild (regarding copyrights, et cetera)

Romance Writers Of America (for romance writers--the RWA)

The other thing you can do is do a search. See what comes up.

Best of luck!

Have A Toe-Tapping Thursday Night!

The Smack Over The Head

Good Morning Folks,

The light bulb came on for this post as a result of a friend's birthday (not saying whom just in case she doesn't want anyone guessing her age) having happened yesterday. My birthday is next month and I'll be 30. I thought today would be fun to explore how or what makes a writer decide "This is it. This is my career, I want to query and hope I can be published."

Here's how it happened to me:

I've talked about when I started writing, but when isn't what smacked me over the head and said "You need to do this." What did that is the fact that I'm turning 30 this year.

I know. What's so big about turning 30 that would make me decide that I had to pursue my writing on a more serious level?

For years I wrote manuscript after manuscript. Most of them were unfinished (some even got deleted or thrown in my trashcan). I kept trying to find my niche, the type of fiction that I most enjoyed writing--that I could see myself churning out the stories. Simultaneously I was hiding behind the fact that nothing was finished.

I was scared. I wasn't sure I had the thick skin needed to accept the rejection slips with the acceptance letters. I wasn't sure if my writing was good enough. I wasn't certain that I had what it took to keep up.

Finally, one day I was contemplating how many years I wasted on fear. I was thinking "Oh for crying out loud, I'm going to be 30. I don't need to waste anymore time being afraid. I owe it to my characters to pursue this." And along with my characters, I owe it to myself.

You see, writing and publishing has been a dream of mine for years (as I've probably mentioned a time or two...or three). I used to go into bookstores and imagine my book on the shelf. I thought about how amazing it would feel to see it there. How excited I'd be to sign for anybody who wanted me to sign their copy. How great I'd feel knowing that people enjoyed my work as much as I enjoyed writing the story. (My main driving force besides the fact that I have to write--is that I've always had the goal in mind of giving people a story to enjoy as much as I have. More than any amount of money a writer could receive, that's the biggest joy I could have as a writer is having readers who love the stories).

I couldn't give up that dream. That's when I realized writing was my career. Motherhood, being a wife, my faith all that is the center point of my life, but writing shoots off as a spoke from that hub giving me another purpose. Giving me something different and challenging to do.

I love being a wife and mother. I'm blessed to have the wonderful, loving husband and son I have. But, I also know that writing addresses my talents on another level. Something that I just love to do.

So, there was no other option. The choice was made. I don't know what the future holds for me and the stories that burst out of me, but I'm looking forward to continuing writing and watching myself improve and grow.

What "smacked" you over the head and got you thinking that writing and publishing was the career for you?

Have A Thought-Filled Thursday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Title, Title, Here Little Title!

Good Afternoon Folks,

Today's been interesting. What with me having to run down to the doctor's office to find out I've the beginnings of an ear infection and congestion, so I'm on a perscription and Sudafed and Advil for a few days. Not my favorite way of spending a day--but it happens. But hey, at least I'm feeling better than I did last night. Last night I felt like crap.

So...I want to know...is there a system you use for figuring out titles...I'm talking any titles...titles for stories, blogs, emails, you name it. I have a hard time (a good portion of the time) coming up with good titles. Every now and again inspiration strikes and a title hits me out of the blue (like what happened with Conjure A Man).

I'm afraid I wasn't as inspired when I came up with the title, Surreal.

Granted, sometimes publishers change titles, but authors have to have a working title. One by which the story is called.

Generally authors don't have conversations like this with people:

Author 1: "Well, Story A is a coming along brilliantly, but I'm afraid Story 2B is giving me trouble."

Author 2: "I know what you mean. I'm having trouble with Story 357. It just won't come together."

Yeah. Those titles tell others absolutely nothing about the story. We need titles. Sometimes a title is what hooks a person into reading a story. (i.e., How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire -- that's a generally interesting one. It sounds like a how-to book, but it's really a work of fiction).

A writing friend of mine, Rina (kudos to her for sharing this method with me), once told me that someone told her to look at the first page of the book and find something within the first page that describes the whole story. That's one way.

Another way is to sit there staring blankly at the computer screen going "Title, title...what's a good title?" (that's usually my method, LOL).

So, what's your method? Have you found something that inspires you with that fantastic flash that says "Hey! That's a great title."

Have A Write Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For Love Of The Craft

Good Morning All,

Originally when I was going to post I didn't know what I was going to say, but I was talking to a friend of mine about things to do with devoting oneself to writing (being in it for the long-haul) and suddenly it came to me. That's a blog post. So kudos awards go to Michelle The Merry (as she likes to call herself--I send you a very enthusiastic "Whoopee!")

What does a writer have to do for love of the craft? Is it sitting in front of the computer (or notebook) and push through a difficult place to get the story out? Is it researching for hours and hours about a topic that has to be presented as realistically as possible? Is it reaffirming oneself despite doubts? Is it researching the publishing world to know exactly the right agent or publisher to query? Is it getting feedback? Is it settling for simplistic writing or going for the fancy writing?

It's all these things and more.

It means deciding that writing is the career of choice. I'm not saying quitting one's day-job (unless you can), but what I'm talking about is saying "Okay, this is way more than just a passing fancy, this is part of my life." And writing can morph into a huge part of a writer's life.

EXAMPLE: On Nicholas Sparks' website he talks about how after he had the financial means, he quit his job and devoted himself to writing. Considering the immense success of his books, he probably did what helped him most. He focused his attention on his characters, plot and making sure he was giving his very best.

I watched a movie called The Christmas Cottage, which is a very nice movie based on part of the artist, Thomas Kinkade's life and he said that an artist who was his mentor told him he "wouldn't teach him how to paint, but why to paint." Kinkade describes that the mentor told him he had to give his very best. (It's a really nice movie, by the way. I recommend it).

As writers we have to take the same advice. We have to put forth our very best writing. We can't settle for half efforts, we have to give all. We have to put our whole joys, successes, pain, failures...everything out there for readers. We can't just sit there and figure that the humdrum dialogue in chapter 15 is perfect. We have to take that humdrum dialogue and make it awesome. We have to drive that story forward with our dialogue and action. We have to "paint" with our words. Not that we have to get fancy, we just have to imprint images. Ignite the imagination.

Our best efforts is what's going to separate us from our ordinary selves and our writing selves.
Sometimes our writing self needs the simplistic writing and sometimes we need the fancier writing. Both are fine, but they each play a different role and a writer has to make sure that they aren't overdoing it one way or another. Balance is important.

There are moments when, instead of saying "He held her hand.", you have to say "He clutched her hand." They both are the same thing, they both work, but "clutching" has more of a desperate connotation rather than "held". Depending on the mood your character might be desperate, or he might be just fine. The right word choice will help convey the right mood.

So what do you do for love of the craft?

Have A Tantalizing Tuesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Monday, Monday

Morning Folks,

Well it's a little after 11 a.m. on Monday...not quite as catchy as the Billy Joel song, Piano Man; but more of the truth rather than Billy Joel's lyrics LOL. Just got finished instant messaging with my older brother. He lives on the East Coast. Very busy man, but one of the best brothers a girl could have. (Of course all my brothers are the best brothers a girl could have--this includes my brothers-in-law, of course).

Shoulder update: doing much better. Seems to be getting better every day. I'll continue to stretch it and move it around to loosen it up the rest of the way. I pulled my pelvis last night trying to get comfy in the bed. Fortunately it's much better. I'm thinking I need to get back to working with the exercise DVD.

Okay...those of you who are interested in Surreal based on Sunday's Post please send me your comments in an email.

Last night I did some work on Conjure A Man and it's coming along. Which, is nice since I have about 3 projects in the works.

I've got a companion novel to Conjure A Man started. It focuses on Delaney's best friend, Caruso Valetti (yes, the vampire). I've got some basic ideas going, but I'll probably have some major changes to work on once Conjure A Man is finished. So, this one's on hold for a bit.

Hope Everyone Has A Marvelous Monday!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Update From The Klutz

Happy Sunday Night Everyone,

LOL, if you're wondering how I pulled my muscle in my shoulder on Saturday, you can thank Stephanie for posting the question in the comment section and the answer is there, as well.

How's my shoulder? Glad you asked. It's better. Not all better, yet. Still a little tender, but husband massaged it and showed me how me a stretch and I've been laying on the heating pad every now and again and being gentle with that shoulder/arm. So it's healing.

As to writing, the reconstruction of Conjure A Man has been smooth. I'm thinking this was a grand idea. (Kudos go to Tess for affirming my belief that the beginning needed to be changed and overhauled; I still maintain that you're awesome).

I've gotten questions answered by my editor for Surreal and hoping something brilliant comes my way to help me improve that one, until then, I have to just keep working on the edits.

But let's review, Surreal shall we? Let's go with some of the principle characters...

Monroe Dubay is a many faceted creature. He starts off dark and brooding and ends up with a sense of humor and find out that it's love, not the hunt that drives him to woo (to use an old-fashioned word) English Teacher, Sasha Brighton.

Okay yeah, we've got a dashing hero and a rather, reluctant heroine, but who's to say they own the whole stage, huh?

Monroe's best friend and confident, Bast Cantrell doesn't mind entering the scene and pushing Monroe's buttons any opportunity he has. He's got a special place in my heart and my laughter.

Oh yeah, and I have a villain...Lily Tygress. She's a pain in Monroe's arse, but doesn't seem to give up on the idea that she's the only solution to his single status. She wants him for herself and nobody better get in the way.

So yeah...with these characters I should have no problem, right? Well...I think I got a bit ambitious. The whole novel is told first person present tense.

Now, I'm curious...is that intriguing or scary?

Have A Scrumptious Sunday! (well rest of your Sunday anyway...)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Saturday

Morning All,

Well, I did a rather not-so-brilliant thing. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder this morning at 6:30 a.m. Since it was hot in my bedroom, and my shoulder was in pain, I was unable to go back to sleep. I got up and had my husband massage it a little bit and took an Advil. My husband wanted to show me a stretch, but I had been up several times in the night because of our son, so I was tired, hot and sore. So I opted against seeing the stretch since I was falling asleep on my feet. I went to turn down the air conditioner and laid on the floor in my son's room for a bit, since it was closest to the thermostat until I had the energy to go back to my bed.

My shoulder is better. My son slept in so I was able to get more sleep (and be way more awake than I was at 6:30). I'm thinking heating pad today! But at least it's not as bad. I can move my arm and my shoulder, it's just a pulled muscle. I was trying to turn over in the bed and apparently was rough with the muscle.

In any case, Conjure A Man is making progress and my editor (Debbie) answered some questions I had regarding Surreal and I'm thinking of ways of how to improve both mss-es. So it looks like things are moving along. Yay :-)

Yesterday I went up to my high school Alma mater to pick up my son's God sister who's going there. I went to my 11th grade English Teacher's classroom to ask her about if the school ever considered having a unpublished or published author to come speak for Career Day. She said she wasn't sure and told me who talk to. So, we'll see what they say. (I would've LOVED to have seen a novelist, editor, agent, publisher come speak when I was in high school. But when I was there I don't recall seeing any of those choices on the list of possible careers--but hey,that doesn't mean they won't--maybe it never came up). I know that some of the people I've graduated with came back and spoke on Career Day. It was cool--I mean I didn't hear their talks, but I saw pictures.

So, what's on your list for Saturday?

Have A Successful Saturday! (Full of fun, too).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh, Yes, That's Awesome!

Afternoon Folks,

I know I'm posting rather late in the day, but I couldn't come up with a fun post until now. I have a couple of things of interest to share today:

Today those who drop by Nathan Bransford's blog will find out he's going to have a book out eventually (the link will take you directly to the post about his book). That's pretty cool. We'll have to keep an eye out for the story in the coming years. (I don't know the release date).

This afternoon I went to read my younger brother's blog regarding the house he's bought and is fixing up with help from his fiancee. I was so tickled because there's a phrase on there describing the work going on that follows up with the fact that "incoherent threats to the roof, rafters, drywall, wiring, and tools" had happened. Talk about awesome wording. I love that "incoherent threats..." that's gotta be awesome. It's one of those things you can imagine in your head. It's something you can relate to (maybe even have experienced yourself).

In any case, it was a rocking good phrase and I had to share. My brother and his fiancee's fortes are in music and musical composition, but apparently there's some incredible writing going on, too.

So, what about you? Have you seen a phrase recently that just made you sit up and grin? Something that struck you as great imagry? Please share, and don't forget to credit your source :-)

Have A Thrill-Filled Thursday!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Starting At The Beginning

Good Morning Folks,

One of the questions I often get (and know others, do, too) is "How did you get started writing?" or things like "What drives you?" "When did you know you wanted to be a writer?" So, I thought we could all tell our story. Here's mine:

As a little girl I loved to play make-believe. I was always playing "House" (not the TV show, the actual game of pretending real life...generally pretending to be an adult, at the tender age of 4 LOL). I also had Imaginary Friends, who visited regularly and had their own stories and lives. I even made up a little song. Very simple, not a whole lot of expertise thrown in, but for a kid of around 3, 4 or 5 years of age people were impressed. (Now I'd probably blush if I heard my Dad perform it--Dad, that's not a suggestion!) The song was never written down or recorded, at least, not to my knowledge. For all I know, my younger brother will decide to take the simplistic song and turn it into something spectactular (he's a music composer and quite a talented musician to boot).

Anyway, from there I grew up and wrote simple poetry. Then, in the sixth grade I learned how to 'touch type' on the computer and that's when my writing began to take off. My mother claims things just came rushing out of me. (I don't remember if it rushed out of me, but I do know that ever since I could touch-type, writing has been easier for me--my fingers can keep up with my brain when my handwriting had a harder time keeping up).

In high school, I was asked to put in a poem I wrote into the school's literary magazine (11th grade) then in 12th grade I was on the newspaper staff.

I continued writing poetry and stories throughout high school and then in business school.

The one problem was, while I loved to write and read, I was terrified to even consider submitting. My 11th grade English Teacher kept telling me to go for it, but I hadn't anything I felt was right (mostly I had a lot of unfinished manuscripts).

Eventually I took a writing course from The Writer's Digest School and learned a lot. After realizing this dream was always there, begging to have attention paid to it, I realized I couldn't not write. I had to write. The writing "bug" was inside of me, begging, pleading, screaming to be let out. So, instead of living in fear, I decided, okay, no more living in fear. Regardless of what happens, this is what I want to do.

I've met a lot of people who say "Oh it's just a hobby" or "I'm too scared to share my work." It makes me sad and a little frustrated. I don't want any writer to feel that way. If you love to write, if it holds any big place in your heart, go for it. Work on it. Realistically you can't think: "I'm going to be a hit." Because you don't know. The book industry is constantly changing, growing, developing. Much like a plot. Sometimes a story that might not have sold 5 years ago, makes it huge once it's released. (For example, Stephenie Meyer said she never thought Twilight would be as big as it is. It came as a surprise. While hitting it that big is unusual, her story shows anything can happen in writing. From what I heard, JK Rowling never supposed she would be a gigantic hit).

Writing has been my dream for so long, and I've been writing--A LOT. I also read a ton of books--I "devour" books. This is a serious business, and yeah, there's rejection slips and several requirements, but don't let those things stop you. Every author I've read up on, every published author I've corresponded with or read about has always said to work at it, to pursue, to persevere, to use your determination as a weapon to keep you from giving up. I often hear/read: "don't give up, don't give up."

Believe me, I've been there. The days a story won't "behave" or a character has acted unlike him or herself. A chapter (or more) that has to be cut (and sometimes those cuts can be painful). But then there's the moments where everything clicks into place. Where the inspiration is going strong. Where you remind yourself why you love the project you're working on, when you remember what's driving you.

Don't give up. That's an easy thing to do. But you'll always wonder "What would've happened?" Writers are always working on improving their craft. It's a process, but we all start/started somewhere.

Other writers out there...what's your beginning and what advice do you have for other writers?

Oh, and before I forget. Kudos go out to the following (because no author is without a great group of people standing behind him or her): My dad, my 11th grade English teacher (I appreciate your belief in me, Mrs. G), Mr. and Mrs. S (two really cool people), Ciara Gold (you rock and thanks for the encouragement/support/advice), Tess (genius, wiz, awesome cp), Debbie (editor), Laura Childs (fantastic person and love your mysteries), Stephenie Meyer (for encouraging new/aspiring authors; don't know her personally, but everything I've read that she's said is really nice towards new writers and those who are aspiring writers), Jacqueline Buie (learned a lot from her critique of my work), Kim Lenox (a nice, funny, smart woman who can tell a fun/imaginative tale to boot), Annie Kimberlin (one of her books is Stray Hearts and was kind enough to instant message with me years ago with great advice), Sarah A.B.J.(for all your help and lending your French expertise), Katie H. (for being a fantastic fan), to Les (for letting me parody you), to Shane (encouragement), to Mr. J (also for encouragement), to Jeff M. (encouragement), to my mother (encouragement, support, being my mom) and of course, my husband-- a wonderful, wonderful man and great supporter of my dreams, me and for reading some of my work and believing in me.

So what's YOUR story? Who are some of the members of your support system?

Have A Write Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Revisions Part 2

Happy Late Evening One And All,

Whew. I've been immersed in some serious revising. I ought to be working on Surreal, however, I think one chapter a day works best for that project at this time. Once ideas start flowing I can do more. At this point I'm reintroducing myself to the story after an absence.

The other revising I'm doing? Serious reconstructive work on Conjure A Man. After some thought based on some advice Kim Lenox gave at the chapter RWA meeting on Saturday morning, and some suggestions from Tess, I went back and cut out all of Chapter 1 to lead off with chapter 2. This way, I throw the reader immediately into the action and the story. The situation is right there and the back story flows through the dialogue. Combining chapter 2 and 3, I'm working on improving the beginning. Fortunately I only have about 11-12 chapters so far, but I'm getting reinvigorated.

I have to quit for now, because it's almost 10 p.m. and with motherhood responsibilities I have to get ready for bed or suffer severe sleep deprivation in the morning. Since I'm not my best without some sleep, I'll have to let it go for the night. Hopefully ideas won't keep me awake.

Anyway...anyone ever experienced something similar? The light bulb goes on and you suddenly remember why you loved the story in the first place? It all rushes back to you in a wave of inspiration, triumph and the "AH-HA!" moments. Please share your experiences in the comment section. I like hearing about other people's writing journeys.

Once I'm reacquainted with Surreal I'm sure I'll have some "AH-HA!" moments with that project as well.

Have A Thrilling Tuesday Night!

Oh The Revisions!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome back from the Labor Day Weekend. Hope everyone had a safe and great time. Mine was peaceful, which is just fine by me.

Recently I've received the first chunk of edits for Surreal back from my editor. Earlier this year I realized a valuable lesson: edit as you go. Either after finishing the first 3 chapters, begin the edits or go chapter by chapter. It will make the load of revisions lighter and give you a sense of already "polishing and buffing" before an editor or critique partner gets a hold of your story.

Rewriting can be rough, but it's a fact of a writer's life. Writers write the first draft, go back, fix mistakes, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, then begin the process all over again until the project is polished, buffed and as good as they can make it. You want to send your best work. Not your first draft.

After having spent almost a year of hardly looking at Surreal, I realize how much I've learned about writing since having completed the draft. I can now apply what I've learned to the first draft and other projects I have going, which includes Conjure A Man and one other novel I've got started.

It's nice to have a completed work. However, even better is when you know you've done your best by rewriting, editing, shining, and fixing it up so that the story is ready to send to an agent or publishing house.

I've only completed some work on revisions for the prologue of Surreal. Already I think it's better than the original draft. I'll probably have to go back over it again and again. But at least its on the road towards readiness.

So, how are revisions for you? Do you have a method you follow? Do you have a sense of accomplishment once it's all finished? Or are you more nervous than you were before?

Have A Terrific Tuesday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oooo It's An Author!

Good evening folks,

So, it's Sunday, the day before Labor Day and a funny thought occurred to me: the image a person has about an author.

Be honest. Before you knew the truth, you thought your favorite author led this ultra exciting life, complete with Hollywood sophistication, name brand fashionable clothes and vacationed every summer in the Virgin Islands (and that was just the female writers). The male writers were these incredible husbands, that fed their wives breakfast in bed every day, and brought home million dollar checks every pay period.

You mean they don't? You mean they're just like me? Ordinary with regular every-day concerns? But wait, they're published, they've got their book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. They were featured on Oprah's show. Tyra Banks has even read their book...actors and actresses are clamoring to be in the film.

Nope. Sorry. Authors, even published ones, are generally ordinary, every day, regular people. Most published ones I know have to run off to pick up their children from school. Some of them are working two jobs. Some of them write sweeping romances while dealing with a leaky faucet. (I suppose a few of them might be living expensive lives with mansions and servants, but a good majority of the ones I've come across aren't).

Some of them are attending their 10th or 20th high school reunion (some of them even attending their 40th or higher high school reunions). Some of them are rocking their grandchildren in a rocking chair on a Saturday night while their kids go out on a date.

Another one might be dealing with a serious paper jam at Kinko's while silently cursing the machine. (That happened to me, once, by the way. Not fun).

Others are worried about finishing up homework for a workshop. A few are scrambling to get their manuscript to their agent on time.

Writers are busy, regular folks just like you. The difference is, their job is to create characters, worlds, and situations.

They're sitting at home in front of their computers (or notebooks) agonizing over the fact that their hero is acting like a jerk. Or that their female character has turned into a weeping mess (Happened to me, drove me crazy). They're problem solving. Or laughing at the silly thing one of their characters said (also happened to me).

One (or more) of them might even be looking tearfully at a rejection slip that hit a little bit closer to home than they thought it would. (Probably has happened to every author on at least one occassion, they might not be looking at the rejection slip in tears, but they probably are disappointed on some level).

The glamour is all in the story. What's going on behind the scene is some major brainstorming, late night writing, patching up a weak scene, frustrated exclamations and some joyous moments wrapped up in an regular work day.

I attended my first writer's group meeting yesterday. Approaching Kim Lenox to get Night Falls Darkly signed was a nervous business. I'd never gone up to an author and asked for a signature before. I didn't want to annoy her. An incredible thing happened. She smiled at me. She took an interest in why I was there and my own writing. She laughed with me. She was a person I might have met up with at Starbucks. (She also answered my ditzy questions about where she got her ideas, talk about generous).

Authors aren't demigods. They're people. They live, they laugh, they love, they cry, they dance, they give birth to children, they have spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends/significant others/are single, they have homes/apartments/trailers/campers/et cetera, they have crashing computers, they're people.

They have personalities ranging from outgoing to painfully shy. A good portion of them are delighted to meet their readers. They love their readers. They want to engage people in their stories and have them enjoyed.

So, go ahead...if you're at a bookstore, Conference, meeting, or workshop and an author you like is signing books. Go ahead and say "Please would you sign my copy?" Chances are that author will be more than happy to oblige.

After all...a good chunk of the authors out there are readers, too. Don't believe me? Just ask.

Have A Super Sunday Night!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Writers' Group

Good Afternoon Everyone,

It's a pleasant Saturday outside my window and I'm on an emotional/writer's high. I went to a chapter meeting of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and it was wonderful! Everyone was so nice to me, and I learned a lot. If you can find a group like that near you, people that are positive, encouraging and kind, I highly recommend it. I plan to join them officially, although, I'm able to go to one more meeting before I join.

Kim Lenox gave the educational part of the meeting and she was quite informative. She recommends looking at your writing like a movie scene: taking in the sights, sounds, et cetera. Putting your reader right in the middle of the whole scene. She also signed my copy of Night Falls Darkly. She was incredibly nice about signing my copy of Night Falls Darkly and talked to me about my own writing. She's very sweet and very funny, too. If you are interested in Historical Romances or even Paranormal, I recommend her work.

In any case the valuable information and support a writer can get from groups like this is tremendous. I've only been to one meeting and I'm hooked. I'd recommend finding a writers' group near you that's positive and informative.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend.

Have A Stupendous Saturday!