More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kicking the Internal Editor in the nads.

Day 1: I am so excited! I'm going to attempt to do something I've never done before! Finish a novel! In 31 days! I have it all planned out, from my writing schedule to when I was the dirty socks everyone in this house seems to have. It'll mean that I will have to break some of my precious writing bad habits, such as endless researching period clothing, re-reading everything I've written thus far, writing in chronilogical order, and most importantly, not writing at all for days. I'd never make my 31 day mark if I did that!

Day 12: Huzzah! I've 13,239 words under my belt! I'm working right along, everything seems to be falling into place. I'm pretty much sticking to my timeline, but I've decided that I need more paranormal instances. Can anyone really have too much magic in a historical paranormal romance? I want to go back over what I've written and fix some stuff, but will have to settle for adding comments to my document so I can fix it when I'm done.

Day 18: Started writing various scenes that I've plotted out. It's getting harder to make my word count; I just don't know what to write next. I feel as if I should go back over some of the stuff I've already written and tweak it a little, you know, so I could get back in the characters heads and really get into the story. No, I won't, because my aim is to get a bare bones, 50,000 word novel finished in 11 more days.(Oops. I meant 13. Hey, I'm a writer, not a mathematician!)

Day 22: My. Novel. Sucks. Why did I read it over? I wasn't supposed to go back over it from the beginning. There are so many mistakes! It's going to take forever if I wait to fix them at the end, and I'm running out of space to put my comments. Oh! Shut up little man in my head who keeps telling me to drop this one and start another! I'm not listening to you. I've got 2,000 words to write in 2 hours and I just don't have time to hang out with you!

Day 24: Stupid Internal Editor forced me to head over to wordle to see what word I've used too many times. Seems that 'eyes' has been given enough action in the novel that it's big and bold next to the main characters names. I will ignore this, though, because I have decided to just jump to the end, write the last part of the book so I know what loose ends I need to address and tie up, and get this baby done.

Day 26: Shut up internal editor. You do not own me. You do not own my novel. I will set you free once all of my scenes are hacked together in some vague semblance of a order. Then you can go at it to your heart's content. I ignored you yesterday and wrote over 2k words. I ignored your incessant nagging today and did another 2k. You are not the boss of me, so stuff a cookie in your mouth and come back in six days.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Love Hate Relationship

So, fellow Diva Shannon Delaney posted something this morning and it got me thinking. Her posts usually do that... *wink*

See that icon up there? The blood dripping off of the quill? It doesn't matter what you write, but if you are driven to write, that ink is the same thing that runs through your veins, it's your blood on that page.

What a sacrifice of self to bring these worlds to the page! Why would you do it if you didn't love it?

I didn't love it. For a long time, I hated writing as much as I was driven to do it. It was quite the inner turmoil.

I hated that anything had control over me and it did. I have to write. It's just like saying that I have to breathe. Both are vital life functions. I didn't enjoy the process of writing, I didn't enjoy the characters in my head, it was all a chore that had to be done.

Again, writing was like going #2. It wasn't fun, but it had to be done or it backed up. (I know, always with the butt humor. *g*)

I didn't sell until I loved it.

Perhaps I was dropped on my head as a child, but that light didn't go on for me until just now, reading Shannon's post.

You can't be in this boat for any other reason than True Love. It doesn't matter if you write romance or not, the True Love is with your craft.

During this contest, I fell in love with writing. I fell in love with my characters and their story. I think it shows.

So, take a look today. Are you in love?

Tell me about it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

YA Culture: Stalk in the Name of Love?

*Please note: I'm putting on my devil horns and pulling out my briefcase--Yep. Playing Devil's advocate today. So take out your salt shaker and be prepared to take all this with at least a grain or two of the white stuff. ;-)

Question: Does the current YA culture encourage an acceptance and even deification of the stalker mentality?

My brother and I were recently talking about *this and he (having that pesky male perspective ;-) brought up the fact that while some of his Twilight hating friends are quick to jump on the stalker bandwagon, some admit to remembering other movies from their youth as amazingly romantic--movies where the guy was "devoted," "reckless" and "intense."

Remember the 1989 movie Say Anything with John Cusack?

I sure do. Remember that moment when Lloyd stood outside Diane's house and blared "In Your Eyes" in a tribute of his love and devotion? Wasn't that romantic?

Eh, not so much from a legal view point. That romantic hero could have definitely been tossed in the clink for stalking. Diane had just broken up with him, after all.

In the 1967 movie The Graduate Dustin Hoffman's character stalks Elaine and disrupts her wedding. Romantic? Not so much... But a classic, right? Of course, there aren't probably many tweens and teens watching *it.*

In the Twilight series a heck of a hullaballoo has been raised over vampire Edward's stalker-like tendencies. He watches Bella sleep, he shows up in her room without her permission, etc. As much as I enjoyed *many* aspects of the Twilight saga, there were moments alarm bells went off in my head because Edward was a bit too intense in his devotion. And yet that "intensity" is rewarded with Bella's love.

It makes me wonder if any guys get mixed signals as a result. I mean, you show up in places uninvited occasionally at generally inappropriate times and you get the girl. Errr... Hmm. And from the girl's perspective are we accidentally sending the message that if a guy stares at you and invades what you may consider as your privacy (um, bedroom) it just means he *really* likes you?

For my age group (and there are many of us who enjoyed Twilight for exactly the reasons it should be enjoyed) we have enough life experience to know that in real life even hunky Edward would freak us out if he pulled the same behaviors he did with Bella. I mean, there's flattery and then there's obsession, right? ;-)

Of course, when we were teens (mumble-mumble years ago) we had a waaay different view of the world, right? Emotions ran high (right along with the hormones) and everything we felt we felt SO very deeply.

Now, old and jaded, I wonder.

And the music I'm hearing more recently makes me wonder, too.

Lady GaGa's recent hit Paparazzi (which is quite catchy) has a few lines that freak me out:

I'll follow you until you love me.

But I won't stop until that boy is mine. (There are a couple more, but fair use and all that ;-).

And even Taylor Swift (whom I adore) has a song called The Other Side of the Door with the following lines:
I said, "Leave," but all I really want is you To stand outside my window, throwing pebbles, screaming, "I'm in love with you."

And she sings it beautifully!

Love's complicated and confusing--I get that. Crushes are even worse (there's a reason they're called "crushes").

So should we as authors (or song writers or whatever) reduce the width, breadth or depth of the worlds we create and the characters that inhabit them to worry about people whose distinction between reality and fiction may not be a clear and clean line?

At what point do we need to censor our freedom of expression for the safety of our impressionable youth?


*Yes, such conversations are frequent in my family. ;-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Writing what you know bores you? Write what you wish

This entry isn't about the craft of writing--exactly. What it's really about is drawing inspiration from tidbits of other people's lives, and allowing our imaginations to revise our personal realities.

You see, I am a mermaid. Ah, but to say so now is to buy the fish before the aquarium, so indulge me while I digress.

I came from a family steeped in hard, cold reality. SO much so that I grew up utterly convinced that I was an adopted child. I squandered quite a few Saturday nights searching the house for evidence that would prove me an abandoned or orphaned Hawaiian mermaid princess.

As I'm sure you've gleaned by now, hard, cold reality bores the ever-lovin' hell out of me.

My father, brilliant man that he was and is, has never held much of an appreciation for my infatuation with the stuff of myths and legend. While he's by far the most well-read man I've ever known, my father is not given to flights of fancy. He is a pure scientist--he relies on the five senses to provide him with the information by which he, in turn, forms his practical reality.

Being the imaginative bairn that I was, I'm sure you can imagine some of the arguments my father and I engaged in as I grew up. By some comic turn of fate, I was the sort of child who dwelled within. I believed in everything my father insisted could not enter the realm of possibility--Santa, faeries, ghosts, selkies, unicorns. Compassionate politics. World peace. Oh, and merpeople. Like me.

In spite of the fact my father used scientific principals to convince me of the error of my delusions, I've always remained convinced that I am a mermaid. My fascination with merpeople has followed me into adulthood, and the picture that accompanies this post is of the last mermaid that followed me home from a day trip to Captiva (Heaven on earth if you've never been there....for both human women and mer-types.) To me, mermaids are real. I cannot, will not contemplate a world without them. End of story, don't mess with me on this. Got it?

You'd think that as an adult woman with four children, I would have found cause to doubt my conviction of my semi-piscean state. Certainly none of my offspring came with fins. Gasp! Could it be that my father was right?

I might have begun to wonder until I ran across a bone fide merman sighting. Not an ancient one, mind you. Rather a recent one. Which means that I am, at the very least, not alone in my convictions that merpeople live and breathe (respirate?).

Fishermen claim they've spotted an amphibious creature resembling a human in the Caspian sea. Gafar Gasanof, the captain of the Baku, an Azeri trawler, told an Iranian newspaper: "The creature was swimming a parallel course near the boat for a long time.

He went on to report, "at the beginning we thought it was a big fish, but then we spotted hair on the head of the monster and his fins looked pretty strange, the front part of his body was equipped with arms."

According to Mr. Gasanot, this 'man of the sea' has been spotted with increasing regularity since off-shore oil production began in the Caspian. Other eyewitness say the marine humanoid is about 5ft 6ins, of strong build with a protruding stomach, webbed hands and black-green hair. His lower lip is said to join smoothly to his neck above the gills.

OK, so he's not exactly the hunkalicious merman I envisioned, but he's a merman nonetheless. And you know, he *could* be a long lost relative of mine. Maybe he's green because he's seasick, homesick, or just plain heart sick from missing his long lost mermaid princess!

As you can see just reading this little tidbit has my muse working overtime. And I'm sure my Daddy is sitting out there somewhere, wondering how on earth any daughter of his (even adopted) could possibly believe such a thing possible.

The point? Allow your world to enchant you and stories will find you.

*Sigh*. So many stories. So little time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For the love of writer's conventions

As the two toddlers are screaming at my feet, I daydream of going away to a place far away, where there are people who have the same interests as me, where knowledge is everywhere and everyone speaks in full sentences.

I dream of going to a writer's convention.

The Romantic Times is at the end of April this year in Columbus, Ohio. I drooled over the guest list. MaryJanice Davidson, Holly Black, L.A. Banks, Charlaine Harris--le sigh. I even happen to be friends with people who are going. Why am I not going?

Why indeed.

I told myself that if I made it to the top ten in Dorchester, I would have proven to my self (and my hubby who would be stuck with the two darlings) that I am making way in my writing career. I didn't make the top ten, so therefore--

Okay, you caught me in an excuse. Truth is, I don't have much to show for all of my writing work to feel that dropping a couple of hundred to be justified, especially when I live in the wilds of Central NY. The Romance Writer's Of America conference is in late August.

Again, what can I get out of these conferences if I show up with the little I have?
I feel as if I am too green to really take advantage of these opportunities. Sure, I'd like to schmooz and party with the rest of you, but would it really help me further my career? Would I be better off just waiting until I had a few polished manuscripts under my belt? By the by, RWA convention is in NY City in 2011. That's much closer to home, and by then, I will also have some more writing to show to agents, publishers, etcetera.

What conferences and conventions do you make sure to hit every year? What are the most beneficial to writers? What experiences have you had. C'mon, fess up. The newbie wants to know...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Okay, so I sold a book. Now what?

Don't get me wrong, I'm still tickled ten shades of pink. (A color my current hero seems to find very entrancing on his heroine.)

I'm prepared for the editing, the revisions, whatever flaming hoops my editor wants me to jump through, I'll do it with a smile on my face. Why? Because I get to type "my editor" for one. *laughs*

I've submitted my input for my cover art. I can't wait to share that with you.

But right now, I feel like that kid in class who finished her test early and isn't sure if she's supposed to be studying for the next one or just sitting quietly. Waiting. I've got the most cake too, just so you know. I'll share. *g*

I've never been a patient creature. I'm a woman of many talents, (Which I think is okay to admit. I like me.) but patience is a virtue that I do not possess and nor do I entreat the universe to teach me such. I don't want to be patient. *laughs* I do want to be professional though, but I think that is another blogpost in itself.

So what am I supposed to be doing? Aside from finishing my WIP, I'm hunting agent.

Why do I need an agent? I sold, right? Nope! That's not the end of it. Not that I'm not thrilled with my editor, my publishing house or anything else, but I want to be smart about it. Someone who has been in the business for 20 years would have plenty to offer me by way of navigation through these new and certainly deep waters.

Anyway, I've done loads of research and chosen a few that I'm interested in and queried. I've had some bites, I think my bait is top notch! We'll see if I get to real in the big fish.

What's after that? I haven't got that sorted yet, but I expect by next week, I will have another post for you.

If anyone has any questions about the process as far as what I've experienced, I'm happy to answer those questions and I plan on doing a series of blogs showcasing the process every step of the way. I know it was very illuminating when fellow blogger and Text Diva Shannon Delaney shared her experiences with us. I learned a lot.

Have a stellar week and I hope your muse dances for you twice today!

X-posted at Writer's Gone Wild because I thought today was Tuesday. *g*

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's S-E-X Got to do with it? (Muse Monday!)

(...What's love but a second hand emotion? (Tina Turner))

I've been captivated with the topic of emotion rising out character interaction lately. I'm coming to believe that the white space on the page is every bit as important a means of communicating character passion as that bit of paper which is filled up with words.

As a romance writer, I am often caught up with different ways to describe the wild and wooly act of "doing it". Preferably, I want to communicate those moments in such a way as to stir my readers both emotionally and physically. Doing this in a way that's fresh and new is a challenge far easier said than done.

The spectrum of human emotion during the act of having sex is huge. One one end, we have down and dirty, pawing and groping animal sex. On the other end, we have tender, reverential physical manifestations of love between two people. A million different scenarios fall in between. And I won't go into the criminal manifestations of the act, as those have nothing to do with romance. :)

When I write love scenes, I'm trying desperately to communicate my characters' relationship and lovemaking to my readers in a way that they have not experienced it before. But honestly, how many ways can a girl find to say pebbled flesh and rising length?

Not that many, right?

I'm learning by deconstructing love scenes that have appealed to me that for the characters involved, the act of making love isn't *just* about the sex, at least not at first. It's about a character attaining an end goal that has little to do with the act of sex itself. Like the sexual act that frames such scenes, the build up of conflicting goals makes for a lot of delicious tension between the hero and heroine. Working those goals between the sheets can make for more than just sizzling sex--it can also advance story.

No more gratuitious sex!

Ah. Bingo. I'm thinking of Deanie and Bud in the classic film, Splendor of the Grass , as I write this. For Bud, sex was about sex and spending some of the pent up testosterone that his love and lust for Deanie has fired in his nubile, young, studly loins...

Oh, wait, I digressed...

For Deanie, at least at first, having sex wtih Bud was about something else. It was about keeping Bud from "doing it" with anyone else. It was about feeling in command of a relationship that spinning out of her control.

In pouring over clips from my favorite movies,and scenes from some of my favorite novels, it has occurred to me that the most successful moments do not rely on words to carry the emotional impact of the act. The best scenes set up in advance thecharacter motivations for making love in the first place.

I hope you find this scene from Splendor in the Grass as useful as I have.

**reprinted from my blog at Inked-In, the net's best (and probably most published!) social network for writers and artists.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Woo hoo! It's official -- Saranna DeWylde is America's Next Best Celler!

You'll have to pardon the Divas if we don't make a lot of sense right now. The cyber-chocolatinis have been flowing nonstop since 11:02 a.m. EST yesterday, when Dorchester Publishing Co. announced our own Saranna DeWylde as the winner of the America's Next Best Celler contest. Brava, Saranna! We're so proud of you and your fabulous book!

Dorchester's editors, as well as the readers from Dorchester's customer service staff -- a notoriously tough crowd -- "absolutely fell in love with" Saranna's manuscript, How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days, which they described as "a playful paranormal, full of spunk and imagination." As a result, Caspian and Grace will be available in bookstores everywhere in the Fall of 2010.

This was a long, tough contest. First Saranna survived five months of reader voting at (where How to Lose a Demon was an Editor's Choice) to become a semi-finalist. Then she sailed through cuts by Dorchester's editors that narrowed the field first to 10 finalists, then to the top 5. After that came a series of gut-wrenching individual eliminations, culminating in yesterday's big reveal.

Saranna has a busy and exciting few months ahead of her. Soon enough she'll have to start worrying about revisions and publicity and all those other aspects of being a writer we're only dimly aware of before we get a contract. But for now, it's time to celebrate. Everyone drink a chocolate martini in Saranna's honor -- and buy her one if you see her in person!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Staying Healthy on a Bender

Bender: Slang. A drinking spree, frolic, rampage, and such other things that lead to hijinks.

Put away those Demonia heels and tie on your tennis shoes, because we're about to tie another one on, if you know what I mean. Not a chocolatini kind of bender, but a writing bender. That sort of orgiastic bliss that only hits you when the verbiage flows like the very blood from your veins.

That's all well and good, but unless you want the mother of all hangovers (I know! A word hangover, how cruel is that?) you need to take care of yourself while you're in the flow. There's a few things that you can do to keep your mind and body operating at maximum potential. (Here's some fine print too. I'm not a doctor. Just in case you couldn't figure that out from all my posts about writing. *g* Check with a doctor before starting any new health program.)

Water. Simple, right? So many people don't drink enough water in their daily lives, but it's especially important for brain function. A dehydrated brain is a brain that's shutting down and focusing on survival rather than the cool places that there are to see up there in your mindscape. Keep a gallon of water next to you and make sure you drink it. Yes, I know you'll be interrupted to pee, but you'll feel better all around.

Vitamins. First, fish oil. Great stuff for the brain. Remember that story about the miner who was in a coma? Yeah. An insane amount of fish oil and he woke up. So, don't doubt it. Get the enteric coated so you're not hit with the fish burps, because those are, in a word, yarkalicious. Siberian Ginseng and Ginko Biloba, plus a B-Complex and a B-12. These are great for concentration and energy. You may be tempted to dive into the dark and seedy underbelly world of energy drinks. DON'T! Those things are addictive, the crash is awful and they're filled with sugar and caffeine. If you need your caffeine to write, as most of us do, try green tea or coffee. Green tea is the better choice though...

Breaks. When the flow starts to lag, don't be afraid to take a break. It's what you do in during the commercial messages that's important. Run up and down the stairs, or do a few minutes of Yoga, take a walk. I've found the Yoga to be very beneficial to keeping with the flow and keeping my ass from shaping itself to my chair. That's always important.

These are just a few things that you can do that will keep your "butt in chair" longer and keep your body healthy while you do it. Who knew that health would lead to higher productivity? Oh, wait...

I've also started drinking a protein shake for breakfast and lunch, it not only saves me from having to prepare something, or eating something unhealthy because it's fast and easy, but it's got some great vitamins too. Did I mention it feeds my chocolate craving?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back away from the Send Key (Dealing with negative reviews)

Book Reviews.

There's the perfect recipe for a love hate situation if I've ever seen one.

Once authors have cracked the publishing egg, we long for them in the same breath that we dread them. Show me any story, and I'll show you good reviews, so-so ones, and yes, sometimes even bad ones. And the bad ones sting. There's no way around that.

But for the sake of your career, don't shoot the messenger. Set your emotions aside and exercise the common sense to lick your wounds in private--and never in a public forum.

Truth is, reviewers know other reviewers. They also forge relationships with the editors we submit our work to. After all, a good reviewer makes her reputation on being the first to review an upcoming novel. In order to do that, she needs to be on the editor's lists for advance review copies (ARCs). Reviewers and editors talk. A lot. Don't believe me? Keep your eyes open at the next big book conference you attend.

I received a so-so review on Wicked Temptation last week from a respected review site. On the same day, I recieved the coveted five star rating on the same story. Even reviewers have opinions. And if you pay close attention to the reviews, you might just find a way to improve your cradft.

And yes, reviewer opinions vary as wildly as their opinions on their mother's meat loaf.

I saw an author react badly to a poor review over the weekend. It completely changed my opinion of her as a human being. Will I buy her work in the future? No. Why support bad behavior? Contracts are hard to come by. I like to think they are issued to authors who conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.

No matter how talented an author is, some people aren't going to like her work. Some are going to hate it. But everyone who reads an author's public negative reaction to a bad review is going to remember her name--and not in a good way. Sure, your buddies will crowd around you, and tell you how wonderful you and your work are.

But those who don't know you, or your work? They won't.

Read my lips (keyboard?). They. Won't.

If you want your work reviewed in the future, don't shoot the messenger. Resist the urge to lash out at fellow authors you know are colleagues of your reviewer. It's a small publishing world out there. As a result, many writer blogs have authors AND reviewers on board. I know mine does. No, I don't control what our resident reviewer posts. Nor would I ever attempt to.

If you an author who is new to the review process, remind yourself before reading any review that the publishing world is smaller than most newcomers would believe. But also realize that the reviewer you piss off today may just be the one who makes enough buzz about your next book to push it onto the best seller list tomorrow. She may also be tight with the editor you just submitted your next project to.

Now there's a scary thought. And I'm pretty sure that all of us can agree that hearing our names attached to words like temperamental, vindictive and difficult is something we all want to avoid. So count to ten before spouting off in a public forum.

It may just save your career!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tales of a (maybe) reformed panster.

I'm going to hit my first 10k word goal some time around Saturday. (There is much rejoicing!) I have to tell you, though, I'm scared. So scared, that writing by the seat of my pants (AKA, Panster) is just not going to happen with this work in progress.

So, I did what any other rational person would do when faced with deadlines: I made a Google Doc.

I am a pretty disorganized person, but when I have to, I can make up Excel worksheets with the best of them. So I did. In today's blog you will find a nice little sheet all made up for you, consisting of a word goals page and a plot goals page. The plot goals page even comes with a timeline! When you get to the worksheet, please click on edit->Download to save it to your hard drive and change things there. Anything that is highlighted should be left alone as the functions are all set up for you.


If you are curious, pop on by to TEXTNOVEL to see my WIP as it comes along. Then, you can also keep an eye on if my uber-organization plan is working.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Drag out your hooker boots, girlfriends, because it's Wylde Wednesday here Between The Sheets! (Hey you, yeah you! Put those fuzzy cuffs away. Only police issue here!)

I was going to talk about rejection, but the girls at Writers Gone Wild beat me to it. But take a drink of your vodka gimlets. Maybe two, I'll wait. We're going to talk about negative reviews and what to do about them as an author. Yeah, okay, one more drink. You'll need it.

1. Not everyone is going to like what you write even if you win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Be prepared.

2. Not all of the crit that you get will be constructive. I wish it was, but it doesn't work that way.

3. Some of the people who don't like your work will leave reviews that read like a second grader with a really big, red crayon scribbled all over a newspaper where your Malamute took a steaming pile after raiding the trashcan on chili night.

Now, does it suck? Sure. But what do you do? Think back to the many recent debacles of writer meltdowns. I'm not going to name any, but if you think really hard, I'm sure a few will come to you. And you get embarrassed for these authors don't you? You don't want that to be you. As a writer, you're in the public eye and in a sense, you are "always on". Anything that you say on the internet is always there. Even if you take it down, it can be found.

So someone tells you that the book sucked rashed up donkey balls. Well, that's hurtful and made of douche that they would put it that way, but it's their honest opinion and they are entitled to it. Freedom of speech applies not just to the stuff we like to hear. Rather than let it poke you in your soft places, ask what about it sucked. If they can't tell you, chuck it like used toilet paper and move on. Say that you're sorry they didn't like it, but thanks for reading.

If they have specific things that they didn't like, thank them for pointing it out and again, "Sorry that you didn't like it, but thanks for reading."

Anything else and you're going to alienate your readers. Sure, you write for yourself, but you sell for the market and that's the readers.

There's been a movement in the publishing world recently and it seems like it's authors against readers. Reviewers are being lit up like Roman candles for expressing their honest opinions- authors freaking out on Amazon and Goodreads for a one star review. We have to remember that these are the people who pay us to write. Have all the creative angst you like, but keep it to yourself and your support system. Will one bad review ruin your career? No. Will one meltdown? Maybe.

After a certain author's freakout over a review, as a reader, I quit buying her work. She struck me as a self-righteous prima donna bitch and I refuse to ever give her any more of my money. She could write the next batch of Commandments, God's lips right to her ear and I wouldn't spit on her if she was on fire.If she'd just left that review alone, I probably would have thought nothing more about it and went on about the business of reading her work.

On the other hand, readers/reviewers, being made of bitch is nothing but bad behavior. So, you didn't like it. Okay, it happens. I've read plenty of books I didn't care for. Did I write the author and flay off enough skin to make a Snuggy? No. Could I? Yes. I've got a tongue with more venom than the deadliest snake. If you want the author to write to your expectations of excellence, you have to make it clear what those are. "You suck my ass" doesn't exactly help anyone. Leave an honest review, or crit, but tell us why you didn't like it. Otherwise, you just look like a troll.

This business, like any other, is full of angels and devils. You decide which one you want to be and stick with it. We've got to support each other, but we can't expect a gold star just for showing up. That's not how it works. No lie that it hurts, sometimes it feels like you just got cored out like the new guy on the cell block. I've been there, we all have. You just have to keep believing in your work, and build a strong support system.

As an editor, I've read some horrible tripe. Stuff I thought was too bad to line my cat's litter box. Would I ever phrase it that way? Certainly not. Honest, yes. Cruel, no. I try to treat all the authors I've worked with as I'd like to be treated. Even when I feel personally offended that something so awful would ever see the light of day.

*grin* As a writer, some of my early work was horrible. I can admit that freely. There are some reviews to prove it. And you know what, I want to improve my craft and I think I have. But we're always learning, or we should be and I tried to learn from my reviews. Even when they burned like The Inquisition.

And last, but not least, don't forget that opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one. In the end, (hehee, more butt humor) the people that are nasty look like the trolls that they are, the honest readers are just that, and you, you'll be smelling like a rose and those readers who may not have liked your first book, they're going to be willing to give something else you wrote a shot because you're gracious and classy.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. *wink*

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting the Buy-In

If you know anything about marketing, you know that the importance of "buy-in" is big when you're trying to sell a product. Buy-in is sort of like the emotional connection or relationship a potential buyer sees with a product. It's something that connects their success to its purchase. They buy based on that connection.

And buy-in is important to we authors as well (from several angles). I'll just address the family buy-in that aspiring (and established) authors may want to consider (if they don't already).

I'll be honest--it's easy to get family members to buy-in to you working as a writer once you've landed a contract, gotten that first chunk of change and are facing deadlines. At that point you've already proven your value as related to contributing to the household income.

But what do you do BEFORE that first contract? How do you prove to your spouse or in laws (or whatevers) that writing is something you SHOULD have the time and support to pursue?

  1. Do a little research: What do you personally get out of writing OTHER THAN potential monetary gain? Do you feel more fulfilled? Are you more productive in other ways if you wrote 1000 creative words in a day? Are you happier after you've written? Make note of that!
  2. Can you set goals that show you'll finish a writing project (this was a biggee with my hubby--I'm notorious for not completing things)?
  3. Can you still meet the needs of others in your household while meeting your own writing needs? If not, think about what may need to be adjusted.
  4. What do you REALLY want or need from your writing to be satisfied? Not everyone needs to be published to be fulfilled, but some do. Be honest with yourself.
  5. Arrange a time to sit down with your family and talk about why writing's important to you:
  • use those notes about how it makes you feel and makes things around the house better to help get your family's buy-in
  • show connections between things other household members do for personal fulfillment and your writing
  • set clear goals for yourself with your family's input (also helps with buy-in)
  • share a bit of your dream with them--why it matters and how it deepens your connection with them and makes you a better person in the relationship
Throughout the process, be willing to listen, be positive and and willing to compromise. Life is hectic, any time a family member wants to carve out additional "me time" the family may get defensive. But if you show how your writing will benefit them--without mentioning potential future earnings--you'll have a good shot at a supportive response. They'll buy-in to your project because they can connect to it in a new way.

Good luck!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Muse Monday--What's in a word?

"Marsha, I love you."

"No, John, you don't!"

"But I do! Really!"

"Oh. Well. Then I guess I love you, too."

"So let's get married."

"Yes, Let's do."

"Kiss, kiss."

The End.


More specifically, writing emotions. Ought to be a piece of cake. After all, who hasn't felt mad, happy, afraid, or in love?

"If you're a romance writer who relies on emotional words carry your character's journey, then chances are you've failed at youre genre." (paraphrased from author/editor Alicia Rasley)

Yeah, I know. She's right. Blows, doesn't it?

Writing realistic depictions of emotion that spring to life on the page is one of most difficult lessons to learn as an author. Yet, there is no more important lesson to learn, particularly for those who want to write moving love stories.

I was fortunate enough to attend a day conference a while back presented by editor/author Alicia Rasley. She's a brilliant teacher, and certainly lives up to her reputation for holding her audience in the palm of her hand.

Much of our discussion was about emotion in writing. I walked way with two "aha" moments, particulary when it comes to building up to those dramatic, emotional moments that define love stories.

1) Trust your reader's intelligence. Never. Ever. Spoon feed.

2) Remove the emotional words from your scene and try again. Once done, you are forced to rely on your character's actions to carry the emotion.

Ah, now we're back to the wisdom we should have learned from our writing 101, but may have forgotten---action is everything, baby. And once again, I'm leaning on a classic movie clip to distract you guys from the fact that this post is woefully short on content because...I'm on deadline. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Writers write; everyone else makes excuses. But there are times when that thing called *LIFE* limits how much we can realistically expect to accomplish. I’m in one of those periods when *LIFE* is happening fast and furious around me. I’m preparing to sell a home, buy a home, move 1600 miles, and start a new job, as well as waiting for the results of the Dorchester Publishing/ America’s Next Best Celler contest. Here's my schedule for the few weeks:

January 4: Meet with movers for pre-move survey; get documents for Virginia closing notarized and delivered to FedEx; Dorchester elimination

January 6: Two office good-bye parties (current and previous jobs)

January 7: Movers pack and load my household goods

January 8: Last day of work at current job; closing on Virginia condo; dinner with my family; Dorchester elimination

January 9-11: Drive to San Antonio

January 12-14: Report to new job; prepare for business trip on Monday

January 15: Closing on Texas condo; final Dorchester elimination

January 18-22: Business trip to Miami for hearing

Oh, and sometime in there, no later than January 19, my household goods are supposed to arrive in San Antonio. In a perfect world, they’d arrive on January 15, so they could be delivered directly to my new home right after the closing. More likely, they’ll arrive while I'm in Miami, in which case they'll go into temporary storage for a few days and be delivered to the condo during the week of January 25.

Whew! Most of this activity is highly positive, but still…

I’m taking my trusty AlphaSmart 3000 with me on my various travels so I can write the 100 words a day I need to keep my brand new 2010 string alive at Club 100. Beyond that, *LIFE* will have to take precedence until I get back from Miami. And I’m okay with that.

**Posted by Saranna for Gail Hart

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bring it ON! My goals for the next 10 years.

It may seem a little far off, but decades around me just seem to pass by and crumble far too quickly. The '90s saw me finishing my education. The turning of this past decade saw me fall in love, get married, and have a small, yet somehow barely manageable, passel of kids. So, what's next? My career of course. My muse has been waiting impatiently for me to get the minutiae done so that he can take over, and I am giving him the next 10 years to get his groove on.

It is an amazing feeling to wake up on the first morning of not only a new year, but a new decade. Goals on a day like this have to be big.

Unfortunately, as my husband pointed out, my flighty ways don't play well with long-term planning. Never fear, I have an arsenal!

FOCUS BOARD--I make one of these every year, and every year, at least half the goals are accomplished. I don't do resolutions. My life changes far too much for me to set myself on something so feeble as a resolution. I need flexibility combined with the seriousness of a dominatrix with a whip. Fun, yet painful, a focus board is a collage imbued with your intent for the next year. You cut up magazines, letters, articles, pictures, what-have-you, and paste them onto a piece of poster board. As you paste, you focus your intentions, your will, into the focus board. "I am going to get an agent. I am finishing 3 novels this year. I am going to go to RWA. I am going to make time for writing first." Everything worded in a positive, and if possible, in present tense.

"All of my blogs are on time this year."

That's a starter. Except that I am already a day late.

That brings me to part TWO-DO NOT LET THE LITTLE THINGS SWAY YOU OFF COURSE. Success takes time. A rejection? Brush it off. See what you can change to make it better. Rejections aren't personal (unless you have made an ass of yourself on facebook and/or twitter. Be careful what you say on those traps of embarrassment). Use them as the tools they are. I am going to enter the RITA contest. The deadline for this round ends in 3 days, so I am out for that, but that gives me this whole year to get it done! Actually, that gives me 3 months to get it done, 2 more months to put it away and work on something else, 1 month to pull it out, reread, and polish, 2 more months to send it out to beta readers for some input, then another month to reedit, then another month to put it away while I work on other writings, then I am into November and December which are crazy holiday months, and I will have to compete for writing time with family obligations, so there are a few weeks shot, but with some more beta reading and polishing, I can send it out to the RITA judges and keep my fingers crossed.

Yeah, a year goes by quick.

That's why I'm giving myself 10 of them. By 2020, I will be a best-selling author of at least 10 books, more likely more since my goal is to create 2 (I will be going for 3!) books a year. I can do it. And if I, scatterbrained, always thinking of plots and characters and what-ifs, can do it, so can you.

I'd like to send out a special thank you to Ann Aguirre, author extraordinaire, for her timely article, These Laurels Are Not For Resting: Staying Productive and Meeting Deadlines, in the RWA Romance Writer's Report. Not only did she quote our very own Textnovel Diva, Shannon, but she got the creative juices flowing for this year. I will have Write Or Die on all of my home computers. I will write at least 2000 words a day.

Okay, decade, let's do this thing!

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