Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, February 28, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 306 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 76500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 153000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 229500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 306000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 382500 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Genre: A Home for Your Story


Current Project: Blindsight
Status: 87% First Draft


I don’t believe in chasing trends. However, if a genre or subgenre seems to be on the rise and a story or character you’re developing fits like ice cream in a cone, there’s nothing wrong with tweaking the story to fit the genre, IMHO.


For example, a few months ago I was in the process of prewriting what started out to be a Contemporary YA with a strong mother/daughter conflict. I’d come up with plot twists and characters and my protagonist’s internal and external goals and conflicts. Included were a mad-scientist mother; a rebellious daughter; an accident with a time machine; zombies (of a sort); a missing father and brother; and a love interest who turns out to be half-alien (revealed at the end, which leads into the sequel).

But there were ways in which the story didn’t quite fit into the contemporary world. For instance, I couldn’t seem to come up with a believable way for two twelve-year-old boys to break into the mother’s lab. Nowadays, with the security available in top-secret government laboratories, nothing seemed to work. Then there were the ‘zombies’, who seemed to move the story into the paranormal realm. But the time machine and alien boyfriend gave the story a science fiction-ish feel.


Then I took an online class to learn more about an up-and-coming genre: Steampunk.


Although I’d taken the class out of simple curiosity (I roomed with a steampunk writer named Mae Pen at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference), by the end of the first week of class, I knew I’d found the right genre for my story.

Talk about excited; I was thrilled! Mad scientists and zombies are perfectly acceptable characters in steampunk tales. Home laboratories were the rule in the Victorian era, and steampunk stories most commonly have a Victorian setting. Girls rebelled against society’s restrictions – think Suffragettes. Wild scientific theories and inventions abounded. Everything clicked.

Descriptions, settings, dialogue, manners, perhaps even history will all change from my original vision. New elements will be added. My inspiration for the entire story, a title that popped into my head one day while I was feeding the dog, sadly has to go. ‘The Fixer-Upper Boyfriend’ no longer fits. *SIGH*


But I’m okay with that. Maybe ‘the fixer-upper boyfriend’ was never supposed to be a title; maybe the phrase was meant only to inspire one heck-of-a-good story!

What do you think? Am I chasing a trend?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quote of the Day: Conventions and Genre


Today's quote is from filmmaker David Cronenberg:  "Working in any genre has the same problem," says Cronenberg, whose work includes such twists on science fiction as The Fly and eXistenZ. "You gain great strength from the genre, great power, because the audience instantly knows where you are. They've seen that; they get it; you don't have to waste time establishing the conventions. But then the conventions can come back to kill you because, if you follow them absolutely, you will be boring and predictable. So you have to overturn them, even as you use them."



This quote really resonates with me, because I'm struggling now to tell my own stories within the more rigid framework of a particular line of books.  In order to do that, I need to understand what the audience is expecting from those books, and be sure I give it to them, while still being true to my own voice, and not being predictable.



I'm struggling right now with the idea of being aware of the genre conventions, but finding a way not to bore people with a predictable story.  During our discussion at the last chapter meeting someone said she gets tired of stories that are so obviously leading to a happy ending.  I think the problem isn't the happy ending per se; I think it's that you really don't believe in the reality of the characters--you don't think they really have such strong conflicts and such deep motivations that they have any question about getting together.  Nothing is surprising, or new, and it's boring.



I'm not saying that clearly.  I think it's like reading a mystery:  you know what the mystery is.  You know it will be solved.  You know the villain will get his/her comeuppance.  But that doesn't make a mystery boring.  You read to figure out how and why all these things will happen, and a good mystery author can have you questioning just how the story can possibly get to the resolution--because it's not predictable.



In a romance, you know the two characters will end up together.  The question is, how can people with such deep conflicts, with so much standing in their way, end up happy together?  If you don't believe in the characters, feel they're real and that they have pasts and wounds and beliefs and opinions of their own, you won't care about how they get to their happy ending.  If you believe in them, if you are rooting for them, then it's like watching someone you care about falling in love--you are filled with joy that they finally got the happy ending they so richly deserve.



Now all I have to do is make that happen in my books....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World-Building, Like Toppling Dominoes

This post is a bit of a meander, I know and I apologize. It's kind of like what happens when I research. Going off on a tangent? Who, me?

Writing alternate history is a lot like starting with one of those huge arrangements where dominoes are set up to topple and knock one another down to create a design and then you take a handful of tiles and move them. And you realize that in order for the moved tiles to knock others over, you have to keep moving tiles. Sometimes you can leave tiles in their original position, but most you have to change. Eventually you end up with an entirely different design using the same tiles.

The first glimmer of my current project came about when out of the blue one day I wondered what would the world be like if Queen Victoria hadn't lived to be 82 (domino #1) and what if she hadn't married Prince Albert (domino #2)? Writing any kind of historical fiction—even alternate universe historicals—requires a certain amount of research and it's funny where that research can take you. Because you can't just change one or two things in history (Victoria and Albert) and expect everything else to happen the way it did in our world. So I kept researching and making more changes until I felt I'd done enough to allow for the end result I wanted.
By the time I was done I had a three-day headache, a completely different set of British monarchs starting with William and Mary in the mid-1600s, and a North America and Europe—heck, an entire world—that looked nothing politically like our world looked in 1920. That's a whole lot of dominoes to move!

Let's switch gears slightly and play a little game. Off the top of your head, do you know the difference between a Zeppelin, a blimp, and a dirigible? How about when the first known submersible was built, or the first military submarine? No? Well, I didn't either before all this research. Don't worry—I'll give you the answers at the end of this post.

What do Zeppelins and submersibles have to do with anything? Well, I knew I wanted fantastic devices and Zeppelins or dirigibles or blimps (and aren't they all the same?) in my world. I wanted to get the details right, or at least understand the basics so I'd know where I wanted to change things. And let me tell you, keeping track of the changes is no picnic, either. There are times when I'm so immersed in the world I'm creating that I have to stop and remind myself which history really happened and which is made up.

Do you ever get so involved in the world you're creating, or even a world of someone else's creation while reading a book, that it seems a bit more real than reality? (hmmm...maybe I shouldn't admit that...)

Oh, yeah, the answers. :-)

Well, Zeppelins, blimps and dirigibles are all forms of airships. The differences are: Zeppelins are rigid airships with full skeletons (originally pioneered by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin). Blimps are small airships without internal skeletons. Dirigible is simply another name for airship (or "lighter-than-air" aircraft). Therefore, all Zeppelins and Blimps are Dirigibles.

The first recognized submersible was built in 1620 in England. The first military submarine was the Turtle built in 1775 and used in the American Revolutionary War by the Continental Army. Imagine that!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, February 21, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 313 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 78250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 156500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 234750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 313000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 391250 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, February 18, 2011

60 Seconds

Current Project: April Fool's Anthology
Status: waiting for June

60 seconds

If you only had 60 seconds to choose something from your home, what would it be?

I know what I would take—my grandchildren. If they were not at my home, I would make sure the dog and the cats were safe. After that, I would go for the pictures, the old family albums.

What would you take? A piece of heirloom jewelry, which might bring back memories of other times and precious family memories? Perhaps you would take the computer since many family portraits and documents are stored there. As a writer perhaps an unfinished and unpublished book would be in the hard drive.

This thought came from a movie I watched the other night and it made me think. We hear about wild fires and people fleeing from their homes sometimes with little more than 60 seconds to get out.

Sometimes we see their cars filled with important items from their homes.

What a person would take tells a story all its own. It speaks to the kind of person he/she is and the values they hold.

So let us take a look at some of the genres.

Romance: A love letter, a piece of jewelry, a picture…

Mystery: A little black book, a satchel of evidence, if you were Sherlock Holmes, your pipe…

Science Fiction: A PDA, a teleporting machine, a time travel machine…

Historical: A family bible, a weapon, a family heirloom…

Take a minute to comment and your suggestions to the list.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WHAT'S IN A LABEL?


Current Project: A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE
Status: Planning a release booksigning!

Thanks to Paty for her statement in Wednesday's blog that triggered the idea for this post. She said, "My struggle is trying to promote my books when they are several subgenres."

Is labeling a book with a specific subgenre a great marketing tool that lets readers know exactly what they are picking up? Or does labeling do a disservice to both our book and potential readers?


I could argue both sides of that question.


Perhaps you've heard of studies where young students were randomly divided into groups labeled "smart" and "slow." The labels had nothing to do with the intelligence or knowledge of the students, that's just the label the teachers were given. Lo and behold, by the end of the school year, the "smart" students were performing above grade level, and the "slow" students had fallen below standards. Seems the labels "smart" and "slow" set up expectations of these students, and they lived up (or down) to these labels.


At this point, you might be thinking we SHOULD label our books as "smart," "hot," "action-packed," or whatever is the latest trend is to attract more readers.


On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't try to label our books down to the subgenre of the subgenre, as this may turn away some readers. Maybe we should promote our work under a broad genre and let readers take their own journey of discovery.


Doing this can bring some surprises, as I discovered. One of my books I considered an action romance was purchased by an editor who saw it as a "feel good Christmas story." Later on, this same book was picked up by an erotica reviewer. She loved it and nominated it for best erotic cover. Though I was delighted the subject matter of the story resonated deeply with her, I was also a little baffled she labeled it "erotica" as there was no love scene until near the end of the story and a teddy bear graced the cover. Each of us brought our own life experiences and made our own journey of discovery through the pages of that book.


So should we try to label our books or not? You can see that's a trick question--there isn't one answer.


Most of us will write our own query letters or pitches or do our own marketing. But don't worry about a label to the point where you freeze on writing your story because it won't "fit" somewhere. Write that fantastic book and then look for a unique angle to approach an agent or editor, or to launch a marketing campaign.


Your creative mind can write three hundred pages of a story. It can also come up with a few brilliantly descriptive sentences to bring that story to readers. That's part of the fun!


Want to try it? Come up with two or three marketing angles for your work in progress or a favorite book by someone else.


I'll give you my example in a comment…

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



Current Project: Spirit of the Sky
Status: A third of the way

My struggle is trying to promote my books when they are several subgenres.

Subgenres are the more dissected genres.

The major genres are:

Romance stories that focus on love and relationships.
Westerns historical fiction that deals with life in the American west pre1900.
Mysteries these books have characters who investigate crimes or mysteries.
Science fiction these books have scientific data as the basis with stories that have apocalypse scenarios, future worlds, or space travel, etc.
Fantasy or Paranormal has “unreal” or magical things, or things not possible in the real world, and may contain alternate worlds and/or mythical and made up creatures or peoples.
Thrillers have themes with or without spies who usually are involved in investigating various events, many times on a global scale or a government scandal.
Horror deals with supernatural or apocalyptic events, usually graphic cases of murder or mutilation caused by humans or other sources.
Historical fiction invents characters or deeds for a specific time period telling the story of that time period through fictional and non-fictional but fictionalized characters.
Suspense these are books that keep you on the edge of your seat like a thriller or a mystery but not as worldly as a thriller and more murders/violence than a mystery.
Action Adventure The words pretty much sum it up. It's a read that has lots of action and adventure. Not as spy-filled as a thriller, but can have some mystery and more lighthearted than a suspense.
Detective/police stories are just that; books with the main characters carrying out detective and police work.
Woman's Fiction stories about women and their struggles and triumphs. They can be about best friends, mothers and daughters, sisters, cousins, any female relationships.
Literary these are books where a story is told which may or may not have a clear meaning.
Mainstream are books on any subject hat isn't clearly stated in the genres above.

The description of subgenres from Free Dictionary is: A subcategory within a particular genre: The academic mystery is a subgenre of the mystery novel.

So you can combine any of the above genres and you have subgenres.

What do you like to read? A pure genre book or do you browse and read the subgenre books? What do you write? A pure genre or a subgenre? Is there a reason you prefer either or both?

***Disclaimer- This is not all the genres, these are the main ones.

www.patyjager.net
www.patyjager.blogspot.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.

Today is Monday, February 14, 2011.  (Happy Valentine's Day!)

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 320 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 80000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 160000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 240000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 320000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 400000 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Passion

Current Project: April Fools Anthology
Status: characterization

Write your passion!

As authors we here this phrase in many different contexts.

“If you want to sell, write what you are passionate about.”

“I love this book because I wrote from my heart. It is my passion.”

Have you ever had a memory or an irrational fear which made no sense?

Have you ever felt as if you have lived in another time period because you are drawn to certain events in history?

As a competitive swimmer I have always enjoyed a love of water. The ebb and flow of it is soothing and comforting, yet I have a strong fear of drowning. I refused to see the movie Titanic with my husband on his birthday several years ago. Yet somehow he managed to get me there. I hated the movie, no I loathed it and I don’t believe I have forgiven him. How old is the movie. Sometime I wonder if I was on that ill-fated ship.

I have other phobias—perhaps I am just strange. Back to topic. I have found myself drawn to many genres. I have a love of the old west, the Sioux the pioneers as well as the cavalry. I have a passion for the War Between the States as well as the Revolutionary War. And strangely I also find myself drawn to the Vikings.

I have written one short Civil War story, one story about Vikings several Scottish Highland books and a few from the Regency period. I do love history. Perhaps there is nothing strange about me other than my love of the past.

What is your favorite time in history and do you feel a strong pull to a historical event?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Romancing the Genres



Current Project: Blindsight, Romantic Suspense
Status: 85% First Draft


As writers of popular fiction, we have a plethora of genres and subgenres in which to tell our stories. What does that mean for us as writers? How does our genre or subgenre choice affect our writing?


Let’s agree on a few things right up front:

• The primary aim of genre fiction is entertainment.

• All genre (popular, commercial, mass market) fiction involves telling a story through a plot that has a beginning, middle, and an end.

• These stories must have well-defined characters, including a protagonist (whose choices and actions in pursuit of a goal propel him through the setting) and an antagonist (who opposes the protagonist.)

• A setting, or story world, challenges the protagonist and, together with the antagonist, forces him to emerge either triumphant or defeated.

• A theme unifies the story and the characters’ growth arcs (or lack thereof.)

What sets a genre apart?

Specific conventions such as:
• Plot events
• Settings
• Character types
• Focus (Ex. Romantic suspense or mystery? Which plot is the strongest, takes up more pages, etc.—the romance or the mystery?)
• Styles of writing (Pacing, POVs, etc.)

Other factors may come into play, such as:
• Intended audience (Mainly young adults, men, or women?)
• Feelings the story evokes in the audience—especially the feeling the reader experiences at the close of the book. (Think thriller or horror or romance.)

So what sets a subgenre apart?

These are the ideas I came up with:
• Different aesthetics (Ex. Besides the setting, a Regency historical has a certain unique ‘feel’. The optimism inherent in a true steampunk reflects the Victorian aesthetic.)
• Different Tone (Ex. A light paranormal vs. a dark paranormal, a sweet contemporary vs. a chick lit)
• An unusual setting for the genre as a whole (Ex. A Czech historical, an ancient Greek paranormal) or an imposed setting restriction in a genre (Ex. urban fantasy, Scottish historical)
• A blending of major features of two or more genres or subgenres (Ex. A western steampunk romance, a paranormal thriller)

Can you think of any other factors that may set subgenres apart?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Quote of the Day: Does Genre Matter?


Here are two very different quotes about genre from two very different authors:



"Focus in on the genre you want to write, and read books in that genre. A LOT of books by a variety of authors. And read with questions in your mind."


"Genre is a bookstore problem, not a literary problem."

Can you guess who the authors are?  More importantly, can you guess what kind of books they write?

I thought this was very telling.  The first quote is from Nicholas Sparks, named "Best Author" by readers of Entertainment Weekly
The other quote is by Rick Moody, the author of The Ice Storm among many other books, a darling of the Village Voice set.


Both authors are wildly successful in their chosen genres, but they are as unalike as they can be.  And their views of genre are, not surprisingly, worlds apart as well.

Does genre matter?  

If you are writing literary fiction, if you are writing for your own pleasure, if you are interested in telling a story without any concern for marketability, then the answer, I think, is no.  It is just a "bookstore problem," something outside of your field of view.  All attention is on story, and story alone.  The readers you want are those looking to be challenged, those who want to meet you halfway, those who want to be taken somewhere new and different and who want to see the world from a completely new perspective.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to reach a mass audience, if your goal is to entertain, if your goal is--yes--to make money and hit bestseller lists, then genre does matter.  
Genre is the label that not only bookstores use, but readers.  They use it to find the kind of books that interest them in the vast sea of words out there.  Do they want a quiet, gentle tale that comforts?  Do they want a rip-roaring adventure that excites?  Do they want a tear-jerker, or an intellectual mystery, or a sweeping family saga?  The reader wants to be able to find--quickly and easily--the particular pebble that interests her in the overwhelming tide of stories hitting the market.


Does genre matter?  It matters as much, or as little, as you want it to.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Finding My Genre When It Doesn't Exist


I grew up reading genre fiction. To be honest, I didn't realize the SF, Fantasy, Mystery (and Ian Fleming!) novels I pilfered from my brothers' bookshelves weren't just regular old fiction. By the time I figured out that some people thought genre fiction (any kind of genre) was something to look down on, well, I was already hooked and couldn't care less. When I decided to write for publication, I knew I'd write some type of genre fiction.

I've said, semi-seriously, several times in the last couple of years that I'm a writer in search of a genre. That's partly because I enjoy reading so many different genres that I've found it difficult to figure out where my voice belongs. I'd start a story, full of hope that this would be the one, only to end in confusion with an unfinished manuscript. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Since I've had so much difficulty trying to shoehorn myself into a genre, I decided that maybe what I need to do is invent my own. I've had a setting rattling around in my head for a few years, but I've been reluctant to try using it because it's...different and I haven't felt confident that I could pull it off. It's sort of a follow-on to Steampunk, only set later in history—around the mid-1920s—and I've sort of jokingly been referring to it as Decopunk. The images from the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are close to what I see in my head when I visualize this world.


I've been having a blast nailing down the framework of my Decopunk world, figuring out the changes to history and how things work. And, thanks to some timely brainstorming at the last RWA meeting, I'm getting a pretty good handle on the characters and the kernel of the story, including a romance subplot. Best of all, I can't wait to start writing!

What about you? Do you have a favorite genre or do you genre-hop? If you're a writer and like several different genres, have you ever thought about taking the elements you like best from each and creating your own sub-genre?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.

Today is Monday, February 7, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 327 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 81750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 163500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 245250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 327000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 408750 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Our Next Online Workshop: WORLD-BUILDING FOR WRITERS



The Mid-Willamette Valley chapter of the Romance Writers of America will be offering several fabulous online workshops this year. 


We are fortunate to have experienced instructor Rebecca Lynn as our teacher this March:

World-Building for Writers
March 1-31, 2011 (4 weeks - $25 non-MWV-RWA Members)
Instructor: Rebecca Lynn

A world-building course focusing on all facets of fictional writing, not just on fantasy and paranormal books. Historical fiction and contemporary genre fiction writers need to know how to world-build, as well. World-building, at its foundation, is about incorporating details into narrative. This class will start with the basic building blocks of a world (whether known or invented) and move toward the integration of research and worldbuilding into narrative fiction.

Week One: You Are God - The building blocks of fictional worlds; the two main methods of world-building.

Week Two: The Genesis Effect - Organizing and ordering your fictional world; resources for world-building in genres.

Week Three: Hobbits and iPods and Claymores, Oh My - Integrity in your fictional world; dissecting student examples.

Week Four: Writer as Weaver - Integrating world-building details into narrative and dialogue.

Instructor Bio: 
Rebecca Lynn took an MFA in Creative Writing and an undergraduate degree in Linguistics and Literature, and has taught both writing and literature courses on the collegiate level. She has published short fiction as well as some short non-fiction, and academic articles.


Our own members get to take these workshops for FREE (if you've been waffling about joining the chapter, this is a great incentive!).

Space is filling quickly.  Don't miss out on this great workshop.  Nonmembers can sign up at our web site: http://www.midwillamettevalleyrwa.com/online.classes.htm

Thursday, February 03, 2011

UNUSUAL HOLIDAYS

Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Anxiously looking forward to finishing the drafts of this nine-book series

Happy February! This is the traditional month of romance and Valentine's Day--some people love it and some people hate the thought of "forcing" a show of love.


If you're on the fence about Valentine's Day--as I am--you might want to try this twist that I just heard on Hay House Radio: show some love for yourself. (If you like spiritual development shows, I highly recommend theirs.) Perhaps I'll try this suggestion of self-love this year by doing some of my favorite things. Celebrate house projects being finished with a bubble bath in my whirlpool tub; light some vanilla candles and raise a glass of sparkling apple juice; then visit Konditorei for dessert...I may not wait for February 14!


I can also celebrate holidays in a more traditional way. I wrote a novella for A VALENTINE'S DAY ANTHOLOGY that was released last year and have a March 2011 release coming up called A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TALE.


However, what really piques my interest is more unusual holidays, like Ground Hog's Day. Though this blog won't be published until February 3, I'm writing it on Punxsutawney Phil's day. He predicted an early spring, by the way, in agreement with the crocus that's now blooming in my side yard (similar to the photo above that came from

http://www.cathyflower.com/home.html. There are some beautiful photos of flowers and flower arrangements on this site).

I found a fun Web site that lists not only unusual monthly holidays, but a holiday for every day of every month http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/index.htm.


Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month? Or that January 3 is Fruitcake Toss Day? February 4 was listed as Create a Vacuum Day. Or perhaps you'd like to celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day on February 28.


Wow! All this generates many more story ideas. If I didn't already have lots of books to write this year, I'd suggest that my publisher consider anthologies of unusual holidays in addition to the more traditional holiday anthologies they are releasing. This could start a new subgenre!


Do you have a favorite holiday? What is it and why? (Feel free to visit the Web site above for ideas.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Genre Hopping Lush

Current Project: Spirit of the Sky
Status: 20,000+ words

I love the topic for this month. Why? You ask. Because I'm a genre hopping lush. I'm not addicted to one genre, no, I go where my characters go, be it historical western romance, contemporary western romance, paranormal historical romance, action/adventure romance, or mystery with romantic elements.

The only key genre for me is romance. And I don't understand why they make people use different names when they write different genres. If you like a writer when they write one thing, I would think their core theme and voice, which is probably why you read, them would come through.

Or not, I like Nora Robert's older stuff, but I don't like what she writes as J.D. Robb. I don't care to read or watch things about the future or sci-fi. But I also read one of her newer Nora books and it was on the verge of too gritty for me. So I go back to her character driven books of her earlier writing years sitting on my book shelf and read those. Yes, I know this about myself while I like a good mystery plot, the other thing that hooks me in a book is the characters. I have to like them to keep reading.

So do you know your genre or are you a genre lush like me and write books for the characters and not the genre?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is there a Happy Ending in the house?

Current Project: Ghost Girl
Status: Approximately 72,000 words


Most Recent Read: Devon Monk's Magic at the Gate

Currently Read: Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse

Planned Next Read: Emile Bronte's Wuthering Heights (no, I've never read this book, but someone at work had a copy last week, I read the backcover and thought, 'Wow! I HAVE to read this book!')


Hi, my name is Dawn and my wordcount hasn't moved in the past two weeks. (Why does it feel so shameful to admit that?)


Just because I haven't been typing doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I've gone through three subtly different endings for the book in my head. I think I just about have it nailed down. The difficult part for me is, I don't want to give my couple a happy ending. Is this my subconscious telling me I haven't provided my happy couple with enough dragons earlier in the book?


So I've also been picking out books to read in the past couple of weeks that include major conflict between the hero and heroine, where they come together at the beginning of the book, split with major conflicts in the middle, then bring it back together during the last couple of chapters. I am trying to tell my internal writer that it is okay to have the Happily Ever After ending, Happily Ever Afters have many different renditions, and I can still have the sense of loss I am trying to instill if I plot it out and pace it well throughout the book.


A more experienced writer would probably get it all right the first time, when typing their first draft. Me? Well, since I am working on the first draft of my first book, I hit a few more potholes in the road. But... I already know where I am going to go back and fix a few elements in the book. I already have loss and separation written in the middle of the book. So now I just have to bring the guy and girl together at the end. With whatever subliminal suggestions I might want to add for relationship conflict in the next book.


So what about you? When you sit down to write, do you always have a rosy picture of your hero and heroine in mind, wrapped in each other's arms in the glorious rays of sunset? Do you see the happy ending from the beginning of the book? Or do you see the relationship tortures and pitfalls more clearly, that your wannabe happy couple will have to surmount?