Saturday, February 28, 2009
Current Project: thinking
Status: wishing I was more clever
It's that time again.
I'll go first. As noted above, I'm plotting in my head. Two ideas appeal to me than the others, so I'm mulling them over, trying to fill in the gaps before I start writing. Your turn.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Status: Done! (Now back to the RA proposal)
Happy Friday from the Beach! Sorry this post is late. My internet was down this morning at my house, so I didn't get to post until now. And NOW I'm sitting in the living room of the beach house, looking out at a view of Haystack Rock, a giant sand dune and surf boarders out in the cold, cold surf. This is the life, baby!
So first off, before I dive into my topic...a little housekeeping...
Happy Release Day to Genene! In case you live in a hole in the ground, you already know that Stars in your Eyes releases today! Book three in Genene Valleau's rocker trilogy is available for e-book download from Awe-struck Books.
On stage, band leader Zach Zacata controls the emotions of thousands of fans, but he can't control his middle-aged body. When he has a heart attack, best friend and sometime lover Lauren Westover provides a place where Zach can heal. As Zach watches Lauren pursue her dreams, he finds the courage to share a childhood fantasy to explore faraway galaxies...at least through a telescope...in a kids' program called STARS IN YOUR EYES.
Secondly, Alice Sharpe and I are doing a joint book signing on Saturday, March 14th from 12-3pm at Borders Books & Music in Salem. 2235 Lancaster NE, Salem, OR. Join us for a good time if you're in the area!
And finally...a mini treasure hunt! I have to share this because it's pretty cool (and because I'm participating). Win Prizes in the NIGHT OWL ROMANCE WEB HUNT. Enter the Hunt for the chance to win Ebooks, Advanced Reading Copies, Print Books and other author goodies. The hunt runs March 1st – April 1st, 2009. Make sure to get your entry in soon. You can find contest details at: Night Owl Romance.
Okay...on to my topic. So last night the DH and I were watching Friday Night Lights, the one show I'm addicted to. In last week's episode (which we DVR'd), the young phenom freshman quarterback is taken to his first party. He doesn't drink, is kept on a tight leash by his overbearing father who thinks he's God's gift to football. Like all kids though, he finds himself at the mercy of peer pressure, and the next thing you know, the young freshman phenom is drinking and partying like, well, a rock star. And what happens? Everyone at the party has a cell phone. With a camera.
I looked at the DH and said, "Aren't you glad cell phones weren't around when we were young and stupid?" He, of course, agreed. But it got me thinking about how much has changed over the years. Most of us write heroines (and sometimes heroes) who are younger than we are. For the most part, it's easy because while we may not be 27 anymore, we've been 27, so we know the angst and worry and emotions a 27 year old goes through. But considering how much technology has changed just in the few short years since I was 27, it got me wondering how hip I am when it comes to what young people know and do today.
So, while this isn't TOTALLY the same thing, let's do a little mini survey and see how hip you are. I'm sure Lisa will get all of these, but take a shot at them anyway. (And Lisa, wait to post your answers so you don't throw off the rest of the group!) See how many words from the IM slang list you can decode. I'm sure most teens...and most 20-somethings...know these no problem. Have fun, and if you don't know something, take a wild guess. I'd love to see your answers! (The correct answers will be posted later).
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Status: Celebrating the release of STARS on February 27!
Do you remember the first time you had sex? Was it an orgasmic delight? A comedy of fumbles? An experience that left you wondering is that all there is?
What about your first novel? Does it hold a special place in your heart? Are you still working on it? Did it get published? Is it hidden under the bed, on a dark shelf, in a drawer--or did it get burned?
As with making love, a lot of attention and articles have focused on the first time or debut novels. How you prepare for The Call. What to watch out for in the contract. What to expect from your editor, your publisher, the art and marketing departments. What advances, royalties, print runs and distribution will be, etc., etc.
Not so much has been written about second novels and most of that focuses on actually selling a second book and not disappearing into the slush pile--or worse--after just one sale.
My questions aren't just for authors who have already seen multiple books published, but for those pursuing a career as a writer who want to see more than one or two of their stories published. What about third books? Or twelfth books? Or book thirty-four? Are those books different than the first one or two?
I've already mentioned on our chapter blog and loop that one of the reviews on my third novel wasn't so great and that I started second-guessing my writing. I've also struggled to generate the same excitement for its release that I felt for my first release and even my second one. Is it third book syndrome (if there is such a thing!)? Are the release dates so close together that I was still working on promotion for the previous book and here it is time for another release?
Or are those simply excuses like "not tonight, I have a headache"?
Though I came slowly to the realization, the "whys" didn't matter as much as what was I going to do to build enthusiasm for this release. Fortunately, I was already scheduled to blog in several different places this week, so I can promote my current release on those blogs--like this one! In addition, my contest is running and I can pump more prizes and exposure into that. I can also use the release of this book to remind readers of the previous two books that have some of the same characters, as well as launch promotion for the three connected books as a set. Yeah, yeah--just when you thought it was safe to go on the Internet again!
Going through this process reminded me of what I love about this story. The characters in STARS IN YOUR EYES are different than other heroes and heroines I've written about. They are older--nearing forty. They are more flawed than my previous main characters and struggle with those flaws more. However, they also possess a sense of loyalty and love for each other that means they will allow the other person to walk away if that is truly what is best. This story is also more light-hearted than my previous stories. There's still a killer on the loose, with shots fired and an action-packed dark moment. However, there are many humorous scenes too.
So how do you recapture that "first time" excitement--of making love or enthusiasm for your stories? Or do you? Is it better not to try to capture that "first time" experience, but to treasure the unique joy of each time, of each release?
P.S. If you want to enter my contest, visit my Web site at www.genenevalleau.com by midnight tonight (February 26). I've included something for each day of the countdown from 10, 9, 8...until release day on Friday, February 27!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Current Project: still nothing
Status: still out of work
One day I had a heroine respond to a setback by saying "She felt as though she'd taken a blow to her solar plexus." Then I got to wondering what exactly a solar plexus was (and where) so I Googled it. One of the images that caught my eye is the one above and as I looked at it, I got to thinking how it could translate into creating a well rounded character.
In case you can't read the words that point to the different symbols traveling down the center of the figure, they are as follows:At the very top, Spiritual enlightenment. In the center of the forehead, Psychic abilities, then Truth and creativity, Emotional heart, Survival issues, Inner child issues and lastly, Sex, money, power.
We all have each of these elements, together they make us a total package. Our characters have these aspects, as well, whether they inhabit a fantasy world or a nitty gritty mystery or a romantic comedy or a high seas adventure. If they are to become memorable for a reader, then they will have had to deal with all of these core issues.
Many of us start our character building by thinking about the inner child and the unresolved issues that our adult characters carry with them. As we move them through their world, the facets of their personalities reveal themselves. They may be the victim of poverty or the benefactor of wealth. They may be powerful or perhaps we put them in a position where power has been stripped away. They have to eat, they respond to cold, fire burns them. Their emotional heart is broken, stepped on, abandoned or else it so big it carries them away. They show their creativity in the way they approach problems and deal with adversities, the way they communicate with others, the chores, physical, mental and emotional that they are prepared to handle. Many times, we have them "sense" something that feels like intuition and in the end, some king of "Spiritual" enlightenment shows them the way to fulfillment.
I offer this merely as something to think about. I've been reviewing my last hero and heroine and wondering if I hit these facets. I'm actually looking forward to the editing process to see if I did and if I didn't, to work on it.
There was a quote on this website that I am sharing here. It was prefaced by a picture of a remote control:
"Just as each button of a remote control is
programmed for a specific function of a device,
Each chakra governs a certain aspect of our human life.
If somebody said something or did not say...and you got affected,
somebody did something or did not do...and you got affected...
it's said, "They" pushed your buttons.
If your peace and harmony are dependent on others,
If your buttons are pushed a lot...
The remote control of your life is in someone else's hand.
Empowerment simply means
Holding the remote control of your life in your hands."
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Status: Research and outline
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup. How visual is that?!
From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30. I know exactly what he means.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze. Ewww.
Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access T:flw.quid55328.com\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quidaaakk/ch@ung by mistake. One of my favorites.
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like "Second Tall Man." Another favorite.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph. Ack! 7th grade math! I hated story problems.
The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.
They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth. Another ewww.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. *Snort*
The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free. Slightly disturbing visual.
The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. I can clearly see the color of this wall!
Can anyone come up with more?
Monday, February 23, 2009
Status: Sobbing over the 30,000 words I cut out over the weekend :(
This weekend is our chapter's beach retreat. I, for one, am definitely looking forward to it. The retreats are hit and miss when it comes to my writing progress - it depends on what kind of mood I'm in. I remember one retreat I spent most of the weekend taking naps, but I needed it! There was another where I wrote 50 pages.
I have a feeling this weekend is going to be productive. I had some time away from my book and finally figured out a different angle to take that will be much better. I'm doing some research now so that I'll have it at my fingertips this weekend (I need some science heavy stuff). But I don't know how successful I'll be until the weekend gets here.
There are a few things I try to do to prepare for retreats like this, to get the most from them.
1) Do any necessary research in advance. Some of the houses we stay at don't have internet (I think this one just has a single ethernet hookup). I don't want to be stalled or distracted by research background I need for dialogue.
For my current book, the hero and heroine are working on a psychology research team. I know I want their research to be somehow related to sex, to steam it up a bit, but I have no idea what kind of sex-related psychology research is going on. So I need to do some Googling and prepare myself so I can sprinkle those bits into my scenes and dialogue this weekend.
2) Do some pre-plotting or at least think about where you want to go. I know you pansters are freaking out right now, but I think this is helpful no matter where you fall on the panster-plotter spectrum.
To make the most from this weekend, I have thought about scenes in the next couple of chapters. However, I've already written much of it (over this past weekend) so I need to be sure to think of several more scenes before Thursday. That way I can just sit down to write and I don't spend the whole weekend looking out the window to the ocean and thinking about my characters, which I could just as easily do while unpacking my apartment.
3) Bring necessary tools. A laptop is a must for most of us, for you longhanders - don't forget paper and writing utensils. Personally, I think it would be fun to write a book with a quill! Don't forget your charger, backup battery, whatever you need. If you need music to write - bring your headphones! I definitely need to write to music, silence pulls me out of the work and I start thinking too much. Or maybe bring earplugs if you need silence.
What tips do you have for a successful writing retreat? I know we're all busy and these weekends are to be cherished because they are few and far between!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Current Project: none
Status: out of work
Well, this is odd. I wrote this blog and posted it and I don't know where it went.
Anyway, hopefully this one makes it to the right place. My book is gone. Heard from my editor; the book arrived in NY on Friday. This leaves me free to plot and plan my option book and a second book as well. I've been feeling poorly since the book left, however, so have done very little but lay around and do nothing. It's so weird not to have a deadline hanging over my head.
How are you doing?
My apologies if this blog (or something much like it) shows up twice.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Status: Page 357
If any of you have ever worked in an office, or at least had co-workers sharing space, you know what it's like. You're never alone, there's always someone to talk to, you overhear gossip, you sometimes slip out for lunch together. Your work mates are your community. Well, I miss that.
So to make up for the lack of chumming around with work buddies, I play with my online writing pals online. And you know what? It's better than meeting in-person. There's more of us, that's for sure. Like an entire building's worth. Depending on the kind of virtual water cooler situation you're into, you can even "listen in" on conversations (lurk) as well as have private discussions (PM).
I don't know what I'd do without my online writing communities. I participate in a few, and some can be addictive. The one that sucks me in the most is the Absolute Write Water Cooler Forums. There are 30,000 members, each have varying interests, and you can chat about anything from how to train your puppy to asking for a critique of your query letter. There are even discussions about cooking, politics, screen writing, and every genre of fiction, short and long. It's an awesome place to have stimulating discussions and make long-lasting friendships.
I do have to force myself to stay away sometimes. The urge to communicate with other humans can be compelling. I can talk to my cats and my puppy all day long, but their only way to talk back is meows and barks. I need feedback, support and encouragement now and then. Online gatherings are almost as good as getting together face to face. Only I don't have to change out of my sweats or put make up on. That's awesome!
Besides this blog and the RWA loops, how else do you converse with other writers? If you don't work during the day, do you ever feel the need for adult human companionship?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
February is kicking my behind 28 ways to March, and I'm still bummed from missing RWA last night, and yet, I feel more like a writer than I have in a year and half. Perhaps I'm buoyed by my contest final, or perhaps it's a new idea I have that has me super excited, or perhaps it's just seeing what all of you amazing ladies have happening. I've been making a big effort to stay more connected to the writing community (sadly, this has not resulted in my commenting more, but I am reading!).
I find that when I check in with Smart Bitches, Running With Quills, Argh Ink(Jennifer Crusie's blog), and Romancing the Blog, my brain switches into "writer mode." And I love it when I discover a new blog like my latest find, Courtney Milan, whose series on Copyright Law is one of the most engaging writer-law pieces I've seen in a while.
Which writer blogs are your daily reads? Anyone new on your list? Any undiscovered treasure on your list? Share!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Status: I've got the main characters, but that's about it so far...
G'day from New Zealand! I'm afraid I got the timezones a little screwed up, but I'm pretty sure it's still Tuesday in the States. I'll try to give you all a flavor of what I've seen so far. First of all, I have to say that the people from Australia and New Zealand have been among the friendliest I've ever met. I'd love to come back and stay longer.
We flew into Sydney a day early and wandered around the city. The harbor is immense and that made it all the more impressive to see our ship anchored off shore (other cruise ships were docked at the piers, so we had to tender to our ship). We're sailing on the Rhapsody of the Seas. She isn't the largest ship around, but she's one of the prettiest (I think).
I've posted about our day in Sydney on my personal blog, so I'll talk about New Zealand here. We were two days sailing on the Tasman Sea from Sydney. We had unexpectedly rough seas and several people, including the crew were seasick. I had a couple of hours where I was queasy, but after that I was fine. We've sailed rougher seas, but not where it lasted quite so long or without a storm.
Our first port was Dunedin and we arrived just as the sun was rising. We took a shuttle from our dock at Port Chalmers into town and wandered around on our own for several hours. Dunedin has been described as New Zealand's Scottish city (one of the founders was Robert Burns' brother) and it's a quaint mixture of old and new architecture. The most beautiful building--and the second most photographed structure in the southern hemisphere after Sydney's opera house--is the Dunedin Train Station (see picture). The exterior is impressive, as is the tile work on the inside.
We toured the Cadbury factory and bought far too much chocolate. I blame it all on climbing one of the silos to watch the five story chocolate waterfall--the sight and aroma of all that chocolate shortcircuited my brain. :-) I have to mention the Settlers' Museum. It was free and very interesting. The museum was well worth the visit and we made sure to leave a donation on our way out.
Our next port was Christchurch. Unfortunately, the day was cold and we even got a bit of rain later in the afternoon. Our ship docked at the port of Lyttleton. The country surrounding the bay reminds me of the rest of the south island that we've seen so far -- green hills and cliffs. The first thing that you notice is a large stone building standing on the hill above the port. It has a tower with a large pole on the top and a huge ball at the bottom of the pole. It's one of only three remaining "ball towers" that still work in the world. The ball is raised on the pole and at precisely 1:00pm every day, it's lowered so that ships in the harbor can set their clocks.
If Dunedin is New Zealand's Scottish city, Christchurch is their English city. It used to be called the most English City outside of England and the names the settlers chose reinforced that--Canterbury Plain, Avon River, Canterbury University. Christchurch is also where Scott set out for the South Pole (the picture is a statue of him that his wife commissioned).
The Avon river runs through Christchurch. You can hire a canoe or a punt and float down the river past the botantical gardens. The gardens are beautiful, but even more impressive is the Canterbury Museum. Again, free entry and fascinating exhibits. Of the museums we've visited so far, this is our favorite.
Yesterday we docked in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. This city, situated on hills, really reminded us of a combination of San Francisco and the Berkeley hills. We took a bus tour of the city and stopped at the top of Lambdon Quay, which overlooks the city and is the top of the botanical gardens. The picture is of a single tree that's been shaped in the form of a cylinder. On one side, set into the branches, is a visitor's kiosk. From there, our bus took us to the rose garden at the foot of the botantical gardens. The roses are lovely, but what was really amazing were the begonias in the Begonia House. I had no idea they could grow that large!
Today we're cruising along the coast and around Volcanic White Island. It's nice to have a break from going ashore. It may not seem like it, with only three ports so far, but it's tiring to be in port after port. You tend to spend as much time ashore doing things as you can and that makes for very full days. Tomorrow we'll be in Tauranga, after that is Auckland and then Bay of Islands. Then we have two days at sea as we return to Sydney. It's all going far too quickly. New Zealand is everything I'd hoped it would be and more. :-)
I have managed to write a little, though not each day. I've been thinking about my characters and a little about the plot. But mostly, I've been letting myself be inspired by the magnificent scenery and real characters I've been meeting along the way. New Zealand will definitely play some part in the novel that's forming in my head.
That's it for now. I'll try to answer your comments in the next day or so.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Current Project: Doctor in Petticoats
Status: 6000 words
This weekend was supposed to be a “me” weekend. My dh made plans to go on a road trip with a friend. Well, due to the weather they didn’t go. When I found out, I told my dh I was still watching my movies. He said no problem.
I popped the first one in Friday night. The dh sat in his chair reading the Capital Press, an ag newspaper. The movie was “Pride and Prejudice” with Keira Knightley. I’d tried to watch it when my oldest daughter was here, but this is a movie with dialogue that needs to be heard and with grandkids making noise and playing I felt lost. When the dh started to talk to me, I said, “You’re not here.” He laughed and went back to reading his paper. Then slowly the paper lowered, inch by inch until it sat in his lap, and he was watching the movie as intently as I was.
When I paused the movie to go to the bathroom he said, “Boy, I’m glad you have to go, too”. The end result being, he was as engrossed in the movie as I was.
Afterwards, I asked him if he liked the movie. His response. “I had to see if she got the guy or not.” LOL It’s funny but I’ve noticed over the years, his taste in movies has slowly turned from violence and car chases to my kind of movies. So in his aging he has become more of a romantic and less the guy out to prove he is macho. Which is fine by me. He even opens a door once in a while which he NEVER would have done if his friends were around in the first ten years of our marriage. It would have made him look pussy whipped to his friends. But now he goes out of his way to do gestures like that whether his friends are around or not. He’s outgrown the peer pressure and the need to prove he’s a chest beating, virile man all the time.
I think this is what younger women find attractive in older men- they (the older men) are comfortable with who they are and don’t need to prove their worth all the time. They are attentive and young women find that romantic. I know if someone told me thirty years ago when I married my dh that he would appreciate romantic movies and get more excited over our son finding a girlfriend than me, I’d have laughed at them.
Has anyone else noticed this about their spouse or maybe father or grandfather? Do most males tend to get more romantic as they get older? Or is my dh an anomaly?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Current Project: AGENT DADDY
Status: Page. 273
Happy Valentine's Day! Before you set forth to celebrate this day of hearts, I hope you take a second to check in and tell us how you're doing. I'm hoping Debbie might tear herself away from the fiords or palm trees, whichever she's gazing at from the deck of her gallant ship, and say hi although I don't know about the time difference. Maybe Saturday is tomorrow where she is. Maybe it was yesterday. I simply don't know.
Leonardo da Vinci said: "Art is never finished, only abandoned." Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing myself to this master in any way, but in as what you and I do is take something inside of ourselves and translate it into something else which we then display on the outside, it's art. And this quote hits very close to home right now as I wrap up this book and get ready to send it. It isn't finished. Not just in that it needs a suitable ending, etc... but in that I could tinker on it forever.
The other thing that always makes me smile as I get to this point in a book is how meaningless all the page angsting was. As it is, I'm going to run long and will have to go back and cut pages -- this happens every time -- and yet I dutifully count pages as I write, fuss about where I am in the story, and worry a lot. I have no learning curve except that I have accepted I have no learning curve.
So, next Saturday, there will be no Agent Daddy living at my house (The book is due tomorrow but my editor kindly gave me a few days to edit, etc... thank goodness I do this as I go, too, because there's no way I could finish it otherwise.) I will be happy to see the end of a long project but a little empty for awhile.
How are you doing? Any romantic plans for the day?
Friday, February 13, 2009
Current Project: Lost Proposal
Status: Chapter Two
I had a whole blog scheduled about promotion, but I've ditched it in favor of a good Friday morning rant after watching the news. Below you'll find a clip that was aired on the Today Show this morning. It's Drew Peterson - the notorious, head-line grabbing former police sergeant from Bollingbrook, IL, who is currently under investigation for the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, and under suspicion in the forced drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. In the video, he's talking out with his current fiance, Christina Raines. Take a look:
Okay, my first reaction to seeing this clip is..."OMG. I could not WRITE this scenario and make it believable." If I were to put together a book proposal with this girl as the heroine, my agent would laugh and say, "That girl is too stupid to live. No way will anyone EVER believe this story." And yet this is real life.
Raines is a 24 yr old mother of two. She's currently living with Peterson, in the same house he shared with his fourth wife, and pictures of Stacy Peterson are still all over the house. Raines said in the interview:
“[Drew] has a good heart. [He’s] very caring and I don’t think he will ever hurt me or anyone else.”
And when asked what she would tell people if Peterson is eventually found guilty for the disappearance of his 4th wife, Stacy, she said:
“That I’m running the other way.” Then laughed and added, “I’m just joking. I just don’t believe them. I don’t believe them. I don’t believe he’ll hurt anyone. He’s nice.”
(Apparently she doesn't believe Peterson's neighbors, either, who claimed they saw him carrying a 55-gallon barrel out of his home shortly after Stacy's disappearance. Because he's "nice".)
What struck me most about this interview is that this girl is young. She doesn't articulate herself well. She's easily influenced and *appears* to give one word answers, almost as if she's been coached in what not to say to the press. But the other thing that hit me is the way this man has the ability to brainwash young girls. How is that possible? And where are the other people in her life protecting her? Both have claimed the engagement is not for publicity or for money, and if that's the case, I have to agree with what my agent would say if I were to come up with this crazy story on my own...that girl is simply too stupid to live.
I'm going to leave you with the end of the interview because I can't sum it up any better than Peterson did himself:
Raines admitted she doesn’t have anyone in her life who supports her relationship, and when her mother and father decry their daughter’s choice in men, she tells them, “I’m going to be OK. Nothing is going to happen to me.”
Robach asked Raines if her parents believe her assertion. “No,” she replied. And when Robach asked her if she understood why, she replied solemnly, “Yes.”
Christina’s dad Ernie has gone so far as to call Peterson “the devil.” Peterson laughed to Robach and said, “Well, it looks like the devil won this round.”
Feel free to rant away. I'm still having a hard time believing this is reality and not fiction.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Status: Changing gears
I find myself in an interesting place with writing. After three releases in eleven months, my next publication date is almost a year away. After the February 27, 2009 release of STARS IN YOUR EYES, I have plans for continued promotion for my first three books as a connected series. I'm so pleased that new ideas for promotion continue to pop into my head, and I also have the print versions of two of these books to look forward to.
In addition, promotion for next year's Valentine's Day anthology from Rogue Phoenix Press will kick off on Valentine's Day THIS year and continue to build until release date. This is an especially exciting project for me because I'll be working with two authors I've known for quite a few years: Christine Young--who is also the owner of Rogue Phoenix Press--and C.L. Kraemer, known to some of you as Chris Kraemer, who will be moving back to Salem after several years out of state. This is the first of a series of projects we have planned as Rogue's Angels.
We've got a fun graphic (attached here) and are launching a new blog at www.roguesangels.blogspot.com. All three stories in this anthology will have "write-in" parts, similar to cameo appearances on TV. These parts were auctioned off at a benefit for the Willamette Humane Society last fall. We'll be tracking the progress of the anthology on the blog as well as introducing the very nice lady who will be featured in the write-in parts. I find it very appropriate that she is a former librarian.
Quite frankly, I'm looking forward to a slower writing pace this coming year so I can catch up with other pieces of my life. As I look at the members of our group, we seem to all have different writing paces.
Alice, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you have been buried with deadlines and multiple releases for a couple years. Eli had a late December/early January release with another in less than a year, then two or three scheduled for 2010. Paty has e-book and print releases every few months but is always working hard on her next work in progress. In addition to launching her own e-publishing company, Christine Young continues to release a book she has written every few months. Chris York always has a project or two or three in the works.
Others, like Karen, are working with an agent to make the switch from e-books to a New York publishing house. Still others in our group have slowed their writing while they take time to be a mom or take care of family business or work full-time or tend to any number of other obligations. After a slower year in 2009, I want to concentrate on finishing all the books in my nine-book series in 2010 and 2011 so they can be released fairly close together. Hmm...a year or two of insanity, then a rest to deal with more insanity. Or just the natural ebb and flow of writing and publishing?
How about you? What's your ideal release schedule? One, two, three or more books a year? A lot of books for a year or two and then a break? If you're not yet published, what do you think would be an ideal release schedule and why?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Current Project:Agent Daddy
Status: Pg. 256
Did anyone else watch the Grammy Awards a few nights ago? What struck me was the variety of the performers and their songs as reflected by the different awards. Keep in mind there are up to a half dozen of sub categories under each general heading:
* POP FIELD
* DANCE FIELD
* ROCK FIELD
* ALTERNATIVE FIELD
* R&B FIELD
* RAP FIELD
* COUNTRY FIELD
* NEW AGE FIELD
* JAZZ FIELD
* GOSPEL FIELD
* LATIN FIELD
* BLUES FIELD
* FOLK FIELD
* REGGAE FIELD
* WORLD MUSIC FIELD
* POLKA FIELD
* CHILDREN’S FIELD
* SPOKEN WORD FIELD
* COMEDY FIELD
* MUSICAL SHOW FIELD
* FILM, TELEVISION AND OTHER VISUAL MEDIA FIELD
* CLASSICAL FIELD
* MUSIC VIDEO FIELD
* GENERAL FIELD
As we all know, each of those songs had to be written. Someone heard the first beat in their head, felt the rhythm, created the lyrics and in many cases, found an artist (or several) who could interpret the finished product. Many songs could no doubt claim dozens of individuals who had a hand in the final product. But it was the singer, the orchestra, the band, the performers, who became the public face of the music. (Consider the recent dust up over “At Last” made famous by Etta James and sung at one of the Inaugural Balls by Beyonce Knowles. Ms. James has been vocal in “wishing” she had been asked to sing the song. It took me a few minutes to track down the songwriter. Glen Miller. Who knew?)
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the thing that struck me was how diverse the music was. I closed my eyes and tried to picture Lil Wayne taking the place of Robert Plant in the duo Plant sang with Alison Krauss. Nope. Okay, how about the Jonas Brothers doing Radiohead? And can you see Neil Diamond and Jay-Z fighting over new material? Now I flashed to “American Idol” (which I have freely admitted I watch) and to the comment I’ve heard a judge say more than once, “It wasn’t the right song for you. You have to pick the sings that highlight your voice.”
Voice. That illusive commodity every good writer has and every struggling writer is trying to find (and this has nothing to do with your published/pre-published status.) And I think it occurred to me then that VOICE can have as much with WHAT you choose to say as with HOW you choose to say it.
One more point and then I’ll get back to writing my book and it’s this: There’s room for everyone at the table, be the main course music or books. There was another dust up on the unwieldy PAN link recently that had to do with some Rita judges and how uncomfortable they were reading erotic books. Reason seems to say you would not check the box marked erotica if you didn’t want to read erotica, and that if a book fell into your hands anyway you would either read it and judge it for the story and the writing or send it back immediately. I didn’t understand or admire the whining and hand wringing and subtle superiority (I don’t read that kind of trash!) mentality that permeated some of the comments.
I mean, if a wrapper and an opera singer can share the same profession, surely there is room for all writers to show respect to one another. And if this blog leaves you scratching your head wondering what in the world any of it meant, oops, blame it on my deadline, that’s what I plan to do.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I was having a conversation with a co-worker last week about dental jargon. In every profession there is vocabulary specific to that profession that leaves the general public in the dark. Remembering how overwhelmed I was when I delved into this new field, I try to use everyday language while talking with my patients. Many times I've pulled aside a co-worker and whisper "That patient doesn't know what the f%#k you're talking about! Use normal words!"
Sometimes this clicks with co-workers; sometimes it doesn't. I don't believe the patients need to learn our jargon. Other dental professionals believe we need to teach our patients our jargon. I disagree. We see most patients twice a year. They don't need a new set of vocab words for those two days. I agree the patient needs to be educated about their condition, but that doesn't mean they need a vocab list with definitions. I can't count the times I've listened to a patient discuss their treatment with my boss and then turn to me after he leaves the room and ask "What did he say?"
Here are some common dental terms that can be easily replaced with one or two words that would make sense to a layperson. Do you know these words as they apply to dentristy? Have a general idea? Or wonder what the f%#k your dentist is talking about?
6. perio or periodontal
Let me know which terms you would understand if a dentist used them while discussing your teeth. I'll share the results at my next staff meeting to hammer down my point on jargon. I'll post the more common terms a little later.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Status: Chapter 2
Yep, it's me again. I'm filling in for Lisa since she took my day when I was in Reno. So for fun, check out these funnies...
And now...your challenge for the day. Pick one cartoon. Pick a character in the cartoon. And write a paragraph/mini scene from their POV. I'd love to know what they're thinking.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Current Project:AGENT DADDY
Yoo hoo, wake up. It's a cold rainy day, perfect for settling down with a nice warm drink and a keyboard (unless you're winging your way to an exotic location...)
Whenever I make a substantial and potentially major change to an existing copy of a WIP, I duplicate the current copy, sequentially number the new one and work on it. It's a safety net in case the new tangent peters out and it's not atypical for me to have seven or eight progressive copies as the weeks and months go by. I will say I can't remember ever going back. Anyway, in this book, I am currently working on #18. Eighteen! Good grief.
I have a free weekend ahead and major hopes to wrap this baby up within the next few days. The end always goes faster than the middle although this is where those vague images in my head (and in the synopsis) start to catch up with me. "They flush the heroine out of the house," now needs to be a scene or two and reasonable and plausible and INTERESTING. Ack!
So, where are you, are you happy with your progress, what are your plans?
Friday, February 06, 2009
Current Project: Untitled RA
Status: Slowly making progress on proposal
For the past few weeks, amid travel and sickness, self-induced last-minute revisions and editor line edits, I've been mulling over two books in my head. One is the new romantic adventure proposal I'm putting together for my agent. This is a true blue, search for treasure, run from the bad guys, side-step boobie traps, Indiana-Jones type adventure. Probably more so than my debut, STOLEN FURY. The other book is the second book in my paranormal series - tentatively titled DECEIVED - which isn't due until 12.1.09. Both books involve adventure, a "hunt" of sorts, but both are very different. As is my pattern, I tend to "think" through plots and characters long before I sit down to write, and I think maybe because I'm planning two rather than one, it's taking me a little longer than normal to start punching out words.
Yesterday, though, was one of those magical days I experience once in a blue moon. Where I not only sit down and write (1300 words on the RA proposal), but where plot points and characters start falling into line. I've blogged about this before - this magical (and there is no other word) phenomenon that happens to me as I'm working on a book. I'll write a scene, have no clue how the character I've introduced or the mystery I'm alluding to figures into the plot, get to the end of the scene, reread what I've written and think, "Huh." But because this has happened to me more than once, I now know to leave it and keep moving forward. And almost every single time, later in the manuscript, I'll discover that weird, makes-no-sense scene is the key to the entire book. I may not have understood it at the time I wrote it, but my subconscious obviously knew what needed to happen to get the story to the end.
Those of you who are die-hard plotters are screaming, "No way! I could never do that!" And I will concur with you. This is not a sane way to write a book. It's stressful. It's agonizing. It brings a writer to a stand-still (me!) 3/4 of the way through the book (every time) as I try to make sense of the odd scenes that seem to fit with nothing else. And I fought it...for a very long time. Until I realized, this is my process.
Surprisingly, this happened to me yesterday, though I wasn't writing, I was doing that "mulling over" thing with the 2nd paranormal. The paranormals are different from my RA's in that these books have an overarching plot - a war between the demons and my race of Argonauts. That plot will flow from book to book, even though each book will have it's own complete story. I introduced secondary characters in the first book, left mysterious hints about their pasts or links to my made-up world that even I didn't understand at the time I was writing it. But because I knew there would be other books in this series, I figured, "Oh well, I'll work that all out later." However, when the plot of book one wrapped itself up nice and neat, I thought, "Wow. I've done it without that agony and I've created a new process."
Not so, apparently.
Yesterday, yesterday, the magic that I've experienced before, hit me again, and I discovered (or maybe realized) how several of these "mysterious characters" I created in book one figure into the overarching plot. Because these books connect by plot (not just character), I didn't need to know who they were or how they factored in just then, but now that I'm working on a second book, I need to know. After that aha! moment, I walked around in a fog most of the afternoon, not sure if it was me or the cold medicine I was taking. And I thought, long and hard about this paranormal book, the first one, and every other book I've written up to this point.
I have not been writing near as long as some of you. I haven't written close to the number of books some of you have. But I'm starting to realize my pattern (faith, trust, magic...insanity???) rings true for every book or series I work on. I don't know everything when I start a book (even though, with the first paranormal, I thought I did), I don't know what mysterious characters will pop up to confuse my plot. I do know that there will be at least one, and that I won't know how they factor in, but eventually, he or she or the situation will bring me to the end of my book.
I call it magic. I'm sure some would say split personality or complete and utter lunacy. Whatever it is, it works for me, and I'm past the point of trying to fix it and write the way the "experts" say I should be writing. Sure, I may get frustrated along the way, but the process has never let me down, and I firmly believe as long as I trust in it, it never will.
What's your process? Have you learned to stop fighting it? Is it different from book to book or do you see a pattern in how you put a story together?
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Status: Page 328
My online critique group "meets" the first and fifteenth of every month. We meet via email, and the meeting consists of submitting chapters of our WIPs to each other. Most of us have been in this group for a long time, like over ten years, though we just brought a couple of excellent writers onboard to freshen things up. It's been great. Their stuff is fantastic!
One of the ongoing problems I have with my group is when someone says "...you need to remind us about thus and so. And you need to explain XYZ." Over the years, these suggestions have caused me to take on the bad habit of repeating myself more often than necessary, and over-explaining. My crit partners mean well, but what happens when you're submitting a novel chapter by chapter is that they forget information from something they haven't read for a while. Crit partners go on vacation, take a break from the group, or simply have swiss cheese memories. Sometimes they skip reading your stuff for months, then come back with suggestions for reminders and explanations. Ugh.
This means it's up to me to determine whether or not I should follow those suggestions. In my early writing days, I'd always follow whatever advice I was given, only to be told later by someone reading the book for the first time that I'm repeating myself and over explaining things. I'm trying to break myself of the habit, but after ten years of beating it into me, it hasn't been easy.
So what I've learned to do is flag those areas remarked upon by two of my crit buddies (it's always these same two writers, the others never mention reminders or the need for repeating details) and then when I'm done with the manuscript, I can determine if repetition and extra explanation is a warranted. Fresh beta readers help with this, too.
Are you in a critique group? What do you see as the pros and cons of critique? What's the worst advice you've ever received from a critique partner?
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Status: Recovering from the plague
Sorry for my prolonged blog absence, but I've been insanely busy with school and with recovering from the plague. Or maybe Ebola. Whatever it was, my whole house has been ill with some vile nastiness.
Suzanne Brockmann (whom, as many of you know, is my personal goddess) has landed herself into a industrial sized pot of boiling water with her latest release, Dark of Night. If you have not read the book and are planning to or have not started the series and have it on your TBR pile, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ahead. And I strongly urge you to read this one spoiler-free. I did, and I'm really happy for it.
Many readers are furious with her for not pairing a particular hero (Hero A) and heroine (Heroine A). These readers were absolutely certain that a HEA was forthcoming for them based on a past sexual encounter and some smoldering glances, pining, and tension over several books. Hero and Heroine were discussed endlessly on Brockmann's message board and topped several reader polls for favorite couples. I have to admit at one time, I was firmly in Hero A's camp. However, over time, I came to root for Hero B and therefore wasn't too disapointed by the pairing. I trusted that I would like whatever Brockmann came up with and read the book without reading any reviews or spoilers. My perspective is that I loved the book even though it wasn't what I had expected, and I give her kudos for pushing the boundaries of romantic a little futher. (I'm linking to my good reads review--lots of spoilers)
However, there is a huge contingent of livid readers who feel very betrayed. They've errupted all over the All About Romance Forums, made themselves known on the Dear Author review, and staged protests on other blogs and in the amazon reviews. There's still a lot of controversy on Brockmann's message board as well, but it's nothing compared to the vitrol I'm seeing other places. Brockmann responded to reader questions as part of her Barnes and Noble centerstage chat (she's still taking questions through Friday! And she's happy to chat writing/craft!), but many readers are still dissatisfied (and indeed, some got even angrier at her replies). There's a pretty sizeable contingent of readers who have sworn off her books completely and/or refused to read Dark of Night.
Many readers seem to want some sort of apology or explanation ala Elizabeth George (this link also contains spoilers). You often see this kind of protest with TV shows (I've yet to forgive Enterprise, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy and a host of others for stupid pairings), but I've yet to see this kind of passion for romance novels. Although, Lori Foster is encountering a similar resistance to her latest offering that moves a contemporary realistic series into the realm of time-travel (which is in my TBR pile). Readers WANTED one thing, and the author handed them something different. AAR has another great post about other author/reader expectations mismatch?
Does the author OWE readers a certain HEA or style of novel? How should writers manage reader expectations? Should Brockmann have announced the hero/heroine pairings earlier or given more advanced warning? Should Foster have kept her series in the here and now? Have you ever been disapointed by a couple pairing or series direction? How do YOU (plan to) manage reader expectations? Oh, and, do you go spoiler-free on your favorite books or are you all about the spoilers?
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Status: 16,638 words
Can you tell that miscellany is my theme for today's post? :-)
I've been thinking about world building lately. How important is world building in your stories? Do you like to go into detail or do you prefer to paint broad strokes and leave the reader to fill in the blanks? Of course, that question assumes much and leaves unsaid things like genre and reader expectations, etc.
The story that's germinating in the back of my mind is going to need quite a bit of world building. I'm not sure where it's going yet, but I'm starting to get a sense of the visual feel of it. You've probably seen the term Steampunk (and possibly Cyberpunk), well, what's starting to coalesce in my brain is a bit different -- it's more...Decopunk. Decopunk is a term coined by writer Martha Wells last summer to describe the retro visual look of the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I've still got a lot of kinks to work out, but, yeah, world building.
Can music save your mortal soul? Today is the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died. The Big Bopper. Richie Valens. Buddy Holly. Gone before their time. There's no denying the impact Buddy Holly had on Rock n' Roll. If you have a chance, listen to the Cricket's version of Not Fade Away (ranked 107 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time). It's been covered by groups and individuals as diverse as the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, The Supremes, James Taylor and Freddie Mercury, but the original is still as crisp and amazing as ever and the version I prefer.
Music has always been a big part of my internal storytelling. I was in elementary school (gah!) when the Beatles burst on the scene and that was it for me. As much as I have an appreciation for other types of music, Rock n' Roll will always be my first love. Raw pounding rhythms. Poetry disguised as lyrics. Social commentary and protest. And variety, from psychedelic rock to disco (eek!). What about you? Has music been an influence in your life?
Last topic -- vacation! One of the reasons this post is so scattered is that I've been frantically trying to get the last minute preparations done for our trip to New Zealand. I can't believe that in 4 days we'll be on a plane headed for Sydney. As much as we've been planning this for a year, it's only now starting to feel real. The cruise ship we'll be on has wireless internet, so I might actually be able to post a blog entry when my slot comes around. But if not, I'll catch you all on the flip side.