Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Because I knew this was going to be an exceedingly busy and stressful week, two days ago I spent and hour writing a lovely post about Edwardian clothing, which I am researching for my book.
I was wrong about how demanding this week would be--its worse!--and in my stress and exhaustion I apparently pushed the "discard" button instead of the one that saves the post as a draft.
SO! Here's what my post is about this week: when life happens, let go of any anger or criticisms you might heap upon yourself about not getting your goals met or your writing accomplished. Instead, cuss a little and move on.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I'll write up something for my topic of pricing in self-publishing and will post it at my next blog time.
Have a good night, everyone!
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I was going to write a post about the struggles I'm having with my current book, but I decided to share a picture of one of the most beautiful places on earth I've ever had the privilege to visit instead. The photo was taken in February of 2009 very early in the morning.
As for the book...I have the characters and the conflict, but the world just won't come together in the way it needs to in order to be believable. The decision I think I've come to is to give it another week and then put it on the back burner and move on. I know there's a book here, but perhaps I'm not ready to write it yet. Very frustrating.
Have you wrestled with a story, only to set it aside for another time? If so, did you ever go back and write it? Please share!
Monday, February 20, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Status: Beginning to take shape in my head.
Looking for an inspirational picture. I saw this one a while ago and remembered when I was a child. We had a parakeet. I was deathly afraid of it. I know there were several times it landed on my head or whirred by. I think I felt a little bit like this young lady.
Although some might see this as an laugh out loud moment. Hmm....
Give me a dog any day. I don't want as many as Genene has, one is fine, thank you but dogs don't do weird things.
So back to inspiration. I can see a short scene with something like this picture in any novel. I have dogs in my novels mostly. Emma in Dakota's Bride had a kitty which she left in a cave. One of my friends, a cat lover, pointed that out to me. I had to think quickly "ah, lots of mice in caves, the kitty will do just fine."
What kind of animals do you put in books?
What kind do you like to read about?
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Status: Editing and promotion!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Some of the following is quoted.
This is Henry Miller. In the early-1930s, as he wrote what would become his first published novel — the hugely influential Tropic of Cancer --he also wrote a list of 11 commandments, to be followed by himself.
(Source: Henry Miller on Writing Image: Henry Miller, c.1950, courtesy of Answers.)
The list read as follows.
Do you have a list of commandments that you follow when writing? I think most writers have more trouble with loneliness than I do, as I am rarely in the house alone and am constantly being interrupted. But I can certainly identify with the desire to structure a writing life as evidenced by this list.
- Work on one thing at a time until finished.
- Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
- Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
- Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
- When you can't create you can work.
- Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
- Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
- Don't be a drought-horse! Work with pleasure only.
- Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
- Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
- Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
Creativity is a wild thing, never wanting to be tamed. I, too, find myself struggling to narrow my focus, to stay on task until a thing is done. But I'm also a perfectionist, and "done " is something I find must be defined externally.
I think, were I to make a list of writing commandments for myself, it would go something like this.
- Write what makes you happy. Write for yourself. Strive exclusively for internal approval. If you like it, keep it. If its enough for you, don't embellish it.
- Even if it's crap, just get it on the page. You can always improve it later.
- Finish each writing session in the middle of a paragraph, page, or idea, so you have something to go on with in the next writing session.
- Beware off-topic meanderings. They're costly.
- Perfection can't be. Strive for imperfect beauty, as nature does.
- Outline the saggy middle.
- Write regularly.
- Trust yourself.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Status: Haven't started
Sorry all, I thought my post was next Friday and I just happened to check the blog when I discovered Genene's post. Now I know my post is after hers. So to all of you who wait in suspense for my blog (LOL) I apologize. I don't remember seeing my reminder. I guess I am getting old.
So, I will post a great mind boggling picture. Maybe a picture that will inspire a scene in a story.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Tremaine Valiarde is the heroine of Martha Wells' The Fall of Ile-Rien fantasy trilogy (books: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, The Gate of Gods). Tremaine is witty, exasperating, sarcastic, snarky and ruthless, and she has a slightly morbid sense of humor. We're introduced to her in the very first sentence of The Wizard Hunters:
It was nine o'clock at night and Tremaine was trying to find a way to kill herself that would bring in a verdict of natural causes in court when someone banged on the door.
Confession time—that sentence is my favorite first sentence of any book I've read to date. Within the next paragraph it's made clear Tremaine's family history is rather...unconventional. Consider the following:
The library at Coldcourt was ideal for this, being large, eclectic, and packed with every book, treatise and monograph on murder and mayhem available to the civilized world.
Coldcourt is the name of her family home—and doesn't it convey just the right amount of gothic shivers all on its own without any further description? There's a war of magic going on in Tremaine's homeland of Ile-Rien and, indeed, across much of her world, and her people are losing. The sorcerer at her front door is an old friend of Tremaine's deceased father. He's looking for a magical sphere left in Tremaine's care and he requests Tremaine's aid with it, telling her he knows what he's asking is dangerous. The first chapter ends with:
Dangerous. Tremaine stared at him. That's perfect. She nodded. "Give me a few minutes to get dressed."
I love this. Tremaine isn't the sort of character who jumps at the chance to be a hero (or heroine, if you prefer), nor is she even a reluctant hero—she couldn't care less about any of that. No, she's only willing to dive in feet first because she sees it as the answer to her problem. Surely she won't survive anything so dangerous.
The rest of The Wizard Hunters sees Tremaine and her friends dislocated into an alternate universe where they're captured and escape (several times, actually), and where they make new alliances. Tremaine throws herself (recklessly and snarkily) into danger again and again and again. By the time it finally dawns on her that she doesn't actually want to kill herself she finds she can't stop leading by example. She's become used to facing danger head on and she's learned she's a lot more brave and resourceful than she ever imagined.
My second favorite female character is Minerva Dobbs from Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me, a contemporary romance. Consider our introduction to Min in the very first paragraph:
Once upon a time, Minerva Dobbs thought as she stood in the middle of a loud yuppie bar, the world was full of good men. She looked into the handsome face of the man she'd planned on taking to her sister's wedding and thought, Those days are gone.
All through this first scene, Min's thoughts are a hilarious counterpoint to her boyfriend's seriousness while he dumps her:
"This relationship is not working for me," David said.
I could shove this swizzle stick through his heart, Min thought. She wouldn't do it, of course. The stick was plastic and not nearly pointed enough on the end. Also, people didn't do that in southern Ohio. A sawed-off shotgun, that was the ticket.
In a less talented author's hands, Min could have come across as either a ditz or a complete cynic, but Jennifer Crusie strikes just the right balance. Min is intelligent, confidant, and her journey to love is full of laughter and, of course, snark.
My fondest hope is that one day I will create characters half so memorable as Tremaine and Minerva.
Now it's your turn. Tell me about a favorite character and why she/he stands out to you. I'm always on the lookout for a new character to meet.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Monday, February 06, 2012
Friday, February 03, 2012
Status: just starting research
This is one of the most gorgeous pictures I have seen. Photograph is so beautiful and it is something I would like to hone my skills on. The last four days my husband and I were on a mini vacation. We went to Discovery Bay in Washington. Not too far away, secluded and there was no one there. We had thought to take the ferry from Port Angelas to Victoria but the ferry wasn't running. It is always shut down this time of year for maintenance.
But the time was wonderful. I find that being somewhere where there are no demands on housecleaning or time or anything else usually results in some productive hours. These are free hours--hours to be spent anyway I want to spend them. If I choose to do nothing, I don't feel the least twinge of guilt. If I'm reading a book, I don't think about the dusting or the vacuuming. LOL, not that I do that much cleaning. It's just that the work is always in the back of my mind.
I love the posts this week. They were all so insightful.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Preparing for launch of first book on March 1!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Status: First twenty pages have entered a contest :)
Have you ever read Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy? If you haven’t, you’re seriously missing out. If you like spunky female protagonists and romances, and have even a passing tolerance for historicals, you should enjoy it. Ms. Heyer’s writing is wonderful.
Last summer when my fourteen year-old daughter was bored she asked me for a book. Hmm, what to give her? She had been reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and James Patterson’s Max, online manga and Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, while she waited for the 4th Eragon book. Seeing a pattern here? If it had a dragon in it, at least one that wasn’t the villain or the victim, she was all over it. No dragon? Hmm, then throw in some magic or adventure and she’d try it.
I hesitated to give her any romances both because of her age and her reading preferences. But The Grand Sophy, that’s a story out of the ordinary; she would probably like it, right?
Right. She devoured it and asked for more Georgette Heyer. I gave her These Old Shades. Watching anime with subtitles hadn’t prepared her for all the French, of course, but she liked it anyway, and ever since she has been more open in her reading preferences. Last week, after another request for something new to read, I gave her Gail Carriger’s Souless, the first in the author’s steampunk series (I love this series title), The Parasol Protectorate. My daughter really liked it and quickly picked up the next one off my shelf, Clueless.
But last night she came in and said she might not finish Clueless; there’s too much technology in it. She wants something from an older time. I had just finished Mary Balogh’s A Summer to Remember, set in the late regency period in England, and thought it might fit her requirements. It has a few sex scenes, but they’re not too bad, and she’s fifteen now, I thought, it should be okay. She started on it right away and about five pages in came and told me she was already in love with the hero.
Then this morning one of those sex scenes popped into my head. Uh, er, that was quite a bit more, uh, detailed, than I remembered it being last night when I gave her the book. I tried to self-talk my way back into the parental comfort zone. It’s only a few pages out of hundreds, it’s not Lora Leigh or Emma Holly, for goodness sake, just a mild scene of consensual premarital sex between loving adults who will end up married. Probably. I still haven’t managed to completely quiet the internal fit I’m having. I will most likely talk with her about it, see what she thinks. She’s a pretty level-headed kid.
But this whole thing brought up another issue that I’ve been dealing with in my writing: how much sex is the right amount?
I write light. Funny. Cheerful. I sometimes read dark but I don’t have any interest in writing it; I’m not even sure I could.
I write so light that several times, after a first reader has looked at a dozen or so pages for me, I’ve been asked if I’m writing Young Adult. At first I just said, no, keep reading, you’ll get to the sex scenes, but after a while I got tired of hearing it. I actually went back and increased the sexual tension in the very first scene, even though I hadn’t wanted to, hadn’t felt the story needed it, felt, in fact, that the initial nature of the heroine was innocent enough that it was wrong to do so. I don’t get asked that at all anymore about that story, but that first change had a cascade effect, and the whole voice and flavor are different now. The manuscript actually went off track because of this. I’ve put it to simmer on the back burner of my brain for a while and started writing something else.
So, what is the right amount of sex? The Mary Balogh book I gave my daughter has nearly 400 pages and only about 9 of them include sex. The rest of the book is eminently suitable for a reader my daughter’s age, perhaps even younger. If Ms. Balogh had left out some of the details, written, in fact, a little more in the way that Ms. Heyer did, I wouldn’t even be thinking about this. But would I have enjoyed it as much myself?
Part of this question is about readership, which ultimately leads, if you’re lucky, to income. If I publish a particular work as a Young Adult romance, women might buy it for their older children and then read it themselves. They might then recommend it to their friends and their friends’ daughters.
On the other hand, some women might only be interested if it were marketed strictly for adults. There are, after all, many more adults than teenagers with the money to buy books. And, I think, a lot of teenagers would be embarrassed to be caught reading much of what is currently called romance (as opposed to works from the romantic period of art and literature, 1770 to 1870, such as Poe, Shelley, Tolkien, Austin, Dickinson, Doyle, and Dumas).
Another consideration is length. No, not that length (geesh!), the length of the story. A young adult novel typically comes in at 40-50k words, whereas an adult work of that word count would be considered a novella and would have an entirely different marketing strategy. Getting a few sex scenes worked into a shorter story also requires a different writing strategy. The pace is different, too. And there are subject matter considerations as well.
Everything about writing for any particular market seems to come down to balance. Sacrifices must be made. And if one doesn’t write with a particular market in mind, which can be risky because of the timing, then when the manuscript is finished it may be less likely to be picked up, due, ironically enough, to marketing concerns. I have heard many stories about books-of-the-heart never finding a publisher, not because its poorly written, but because it’s a genre crossover.
I have read, and I agree, that a great sex scene is more about the emotions of the characters than the technicalities of Tab A and Slot B. So why must a lighthearted, funny story loaded with double entendre and rich emotion instead of porn-style graphics be any less appealing to an adult than to a young adult? I am baffled by this, and yet it is an issue that I have had to face repeatedly.
I haven’t resolved this issue to my own satisfaction, no pun intended—no, really!—and I fear that my writing may continue to stall out until I do so. I waffle back and forth between my desire to write what I want—to me it feels a lot like Heyer-inspired sci-fi it but has recently been compared to Jane Austin(wow!)—and my desire to publish something so exciting that its popularity will rage across the planet like wildfire…like Harry Potter or Twilight. Wait, which pages were those sex scenes on again? I can’t seem to find them…Oh well, back to writing Fun with Muffy and Dick.