Writing

So it seems everywhere I turn people are discussing erotica. Okay, I admit many of the blogs I visit are romance writers or somehow related to the industry. But still…

I belong to the national organization of Romance Writers of America. I didn’t join because I thought the national level could offer me much, I pretty much ignore them. I joined (and continue my membership) so I can be a member of my local chapter of RWA, Passionate Ink (the chapter for erotic authors), and soon will be joining the Kiss of Death chapter for suspense authors.

Why do I mention all this? Well…. there seems to be a portion of the membership that has started picking on erotic authors. Huh? Romance already gets snubbed by many people as “fluff”. I’m okay with that. Let’s face it, I don’t pick up a Sandra Brown novel to get entangled with the latest political views. I read fiction because it’s just that… fiction. Escapism.

I know erotica is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m good with that too. But to say it is nothing more than pornography does belittle some amazing writers out there. The Tilling Passions series involves plotlines with intricate twists. I don’t want people to skip from love scene to love scene… it’s not the point. Yes, there are electronic publishers out there publishing the bulk of the erotica, but major NY publishing houses like Avon, Bantam, and Kensington (to name a few) are or have opened erotic lines as well. The stories they publish are complex plots with character growth.  Throwing open the bedroom door doesn’t mean the writing has been “dumbed down”.  

Many people DH and I know are asking about my books. I’m comfortable enough with my writing to suggest to some people that they may not want to order my book and when I explain why they usually laugh and agree… though some have surprised me!

Anyhoo… many writers were up in arms over the discussion. It was blog fodder that sparked lively debates. I went to a couple of links that went to other links until I was shaking my head in disbelief over the controversy porn vs. erotica sparked. Eventually I stopped reading it. I’m actually coming to the party very late. I didn’t bother to get embroiled in any of the rhetoric. It’s not worth my energy.

I started writing because it gave me something to do after MS forced my hand. I continue to write because now that the dam has been broken… there’s no holding back the flood! The hours at my computer are pure joy… most of the time 😉

Oh, by the way… thank you for all the suggestions on the whole blockage thing. I’m happy to say that I’ve hooked up with a couple of awesome writers to do an anthology. Nothing I want to talk about until the words start coming… but suffice it to say… the research into something new and exciting has begun!

Okay, so I don’t know if you noticed this picture over in the right hand column:

But this guy is making me nervous. He’s supposed to. But still.

A couple of weeks ago I committed to writing 70,000 words in 70 days. Not editing (which has started for the Tilling Passions series… yay), but brand new words on the page. Big commitment. But then again I needed something to kick me out of obsessing over promoting my book and back into writing. I’ve got three stories rolling around in my head and I haven’t chosen one to put down on paper.

This is bad.

The challenge started on Saturday, March 1 and I have yet to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be). Which means I’m already 2,000 words behind. Well, that’s gotta stop. *cracks knuckles*.

Today, I plan to not only to meet today’s word count, but make up a portion of those missing words.

If I can figure out how to do it, I’m going to put a little word count meter under the picture so you can see how far I am with my goal.

For me “Sweating with Sven” is a good thing. I am highly competitive. There are probably around 100 other people who have committed to this same challenge (this is the third round of Sweating with Sven) and I would like to be one of those that  can strut up on stage and collect my trophy for completing the challenge in 67 more days.

Okay, so there’s no stage and no trophy, but this visual works for me. I’m just saying…

What does 70,000 words translate into? 2 1/2 novellas; one novella and a full novel; or a longer novel. That’s a lot of words.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this challenge or would like to sign up click HERE. It’s not too late. There are no monitors with whips (a gal can dream), but there are lots of cheerleaders.

So, you may not be a writer, but when you know you have something you’ve got to do… is there something special that motivates you? Some special treat you allow yourself when your task is complete? Or are you the type to just plunge in and get it done?

So, I’m not twiddling my thumbs, but kinda…

Yesterday I typed “the end” on Meghan’s story. I didn’t do my snoopy dancing or even feel a sense of relief.

I felt lost.

Granted, it’s only the first draft and still needs to go to my critique partners and be tightened before actually going to the publisher, but in all reality–I’m done. And not only done with Meghan’s story, but with the whole series.

Huh.

You have to understand, these three women and their lovers have been occupying my thoughts for the better part of six months. Oh, I haven’t been writing their stories that long, but I’ve been living their lives that long. And now, they’re all happy… or as happy as couples can be when they’ve committed their lives… their happy-ever-after will have good days and bad days, joys and tears, but for the most part they’re walking off into the sunset and out of my life.

Oh, come on, I’m not that weird! You’ve experienced it too. Remember that book you read and you got to the last page, but closing the cover didn’t keep you from thinking about the characters. They had crawled under your skin and you actually cared what happened to them and wondered what their futures would hold.

Good writing does that for you. It doesn’t carry you along the plot, it rolls you up and brings you into the story. Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t think my writing has quite reached that level, but I’m aiming for it.

What I do know is that my writing process has done that. My characters are people to me who have feelings and reactions and speech patterns. If I didn’t crawl into their heads I couldn’t put their stories on the page. Of course I’m wrapped up in them while I’m at the computer, but I wake in the night wondering what trouble I can get them into, think about them while I’m cooking dinner or throwing in a load of laundry.. and don’t even get me started about showering. I have no idea what running water has to do with my creativity, but the most wonderful ideas come to me as I’m washing my hair. I have very clean hair. (TMI–sorry!) The point is, I haven’t figured out how to turn these people off. They invade all aspects of my life.

Now, I understand why writers have more than one project going. Then you always have another friend to turn to when someone gets their happy ending and doesn’t need you anymore.

So today I’m walking around kind of lost. I’m thinking about my next story… and doing the taxes. Ick! It’s funny when I come up out of my writing my real life is right there waiting for me!

So, tell me about the last time you got swept away.

So stop me if you’ve heard this one…

The sun glistened like diamonds on the new snow. Whisps of white filtered across the otherwise flawless canvas of the sky. And DH says, “You ready to go for a ride?” 

What? You’ve heard this before?

LOL! Oh, no, sometimes I do stoopid things (okay I do a lot of stoopid things), but I’m not brain dead. I did not get on a snowmobile this weekend! The man and I went on a road trip in a very safe car to Little Boy Blue’s basketball tournament.

It was a fun day and the boys’ drive and determination to win each game made me think of my own journey to publication.

In this tournament you played until you lost, then you were out. What impressed me was how these young men, even when they were behind kept pushing for the win. The second game for Little Boy Blue’s team was nerve wracking. They had several hours to stew over how they were outmatched.

But from the opening whistle they came out playing hard. The game was separated by a point or two through three periods, each team sharing the lead at different times throughout. But our home team fell apart at the beginning of the fourth period. The opposition scored several unanswered baskets until the team was 8 points behind with two minutes to go.

But did they give up? Nope. The coach rearranged the players and they stepped up their game, pulled it together and brought the score within 5 with a minute to go. Another basket and now they’re a 3 point shot away from a tie. But the opposition has the ball. With everything they have, they press the offense and steal the ball with 2 seconds left on the clock. They manage to tip it to one of their shooters and he goes up for the 3 pointer. A beautiful arcing shot that hangs in the air as the final buzzer sounds. Breathless, the crowd comes to their feet as the ball bounces around the rim, but doesn’t go in.

They lost. A hard fought game, but a bummer none the less.

So why do I mention this?

Writing and especially publication is a difficult journey to take. The decision to sit down and write a novel is one that takes years for some people to complete. Others, like me, fall into it.

It can seem so daunting to take the nugget of an idea and turn it into a complete story with twists and turns and characters that keep the reader turning the pages, but you persevere. Then you enter several contests and the judges have less than stellar comments about your novel. The score isn’t in your favor.

Back to the drawing board. Shuffle the players and send them out there again. You final in a contest, but receive your fourth rejection in a month.

It is so easy to give up and let the “other” team win. After all, they’re ahead and you feel the time slipping away. It would be less painful to slide those manuscripts under the couch and let them collect dust.

But how bad do you want it? Because as long as there’s time on the clock… you have a chance to achieve your dream. Keep pressing, keep believing… keep writing.

I’m proof that determination and perseverance helps you reach your dreams. One book published, two more under contract, but is the game over? Nope. I still want to hold one of my babies in my hands. I still want to have a booksigning. I still want to have a best seller.

I’m still in the tournament, playing hard to win. How about you?

Okay, I can’t post today without first making note of what a tragic ending Heath Ledger had to his life. The man was only 28 with a young child. News reports state that he is best known for his role in “Broke Back Mountain”, but I fell in love with him in “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale”. Both are wonderful, fun, family movies. Though I’m not a star-watcher, I do find it sad and a little disconcerting that young people in Hollywood seem to be imploding at an alarming rate. How and Why he died will be the fodder for entertainment programs for years to come. Somehow I think they’ll miss the fact that this man grew up with a family in Australia and there are parents and siblings mourning his passing. It’s just such a tragedy. I’m just saying…

Okay, shake that off.

So, I’m working on Meghan’s story and delving into new territory that has me scratching my head. I dont mind this. It means a little diversion from writing to plunge into research. Yay!

Did I mention I was a geek in school? I love learning. (I have a head full of useless information that isn’t quite broad enough for Jeopardy! but certainly can raise eyebrows at a dinner party.) So doing research is right up my alley. I’m not very efficient at maneuvering the internet so I often take wrong turns and end up spending time reading material meant for doctoral thesis research… no seriously. I’ve done that before.

My CP and I argue… I mean have lively debates… on whether research for crimes or historical facts is more time consuming. But a reader can get pulled from your story just as quickly whether you’ve put your heroine in the wrong undergarments in medival times or your cop hero does something at a crime scene that just wouldn’t happen. 

Now history was never a subject that tripped my trigger, but I loooove reading historicals. I take for granted that the information the author is feeding me is accurate.

But throw me into a science fiction story where the science is wrong and I’m like… unh unh… don’t even go there with me dear author. I’ll give them one pass, but if it persists, the book goes back to the library unread. (I refuse to watch “Little Nemo” because it is filled with inaccurate information… and I’m not talking about fantasy stuff… I love Disney’s talking animals… actual stuff that just doesn’t happen in nature. But I digress…)

Which then made me wonder. How many times are you willing to suspend belief of fact in a book, before you throw in the towel? (And I’m not talking about two strangers falling in love in 20 pages… I write romance people… allow me to keep that fantasy.) I just wondered how important is it that the author has done her research? or is it something you simply take for granted?

I had the privilege of teleconferencing with a group of writers with disabilities the other night. They have recently published their first book Behind Our Eyes available through Amazon. It’s an anthology of short stories, essays and poems, many of them based on their own experiences of living with disabilities. (Yep, that was indeed a shameless plug.)

It was a wonderful conversation and we spoke about several aspects of writing. But the one thing that we spent a lot of time on was point of view (POV). This sometimes can be a difficult concept to master as a writer.

POV is the person experiencing your scene. The one who holds the video camera showing the reader what is happening. The question arose as to how a blind character would “see” the world. The fact is… they probably wouldn’t.

This character wouldn’t be describing someone’s clothes or how the puffy clouds floated across the cerulean sky as they sat in the outdoor cafe. A blind character would hear and smell, perhaps touch and experience the world around them from those senses. A writer needs to be mindful of whose head they are in.

An engineer isn’t going to notice his girlfriend’s house is filled with various species of potted plants. However, he would notice that her computer is old and needs to be updated. But a landscaper would surely notice how she hadn’t taken care of her flowerbeds and that they’d gone to seed.

Another thing you can’t do is jump out of your POV person and tell the reader something another person is thinking. This is called head-hopping. How would your character know what someone else was thinking? They can however “see” that the person they’re talking to is pissed. How? Show your reader how the person is crossing their arms, or how their brow is furrowed. Your POV character can interpret body language. You do it all the time.

I like to think of writing as an actor would think of portraying a role. I crawl into the head of my character and experience and react to everything through their eyes. 

  

Now, isn’t that just about the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen?

I am just so excited. It’s the cover for MY BOOK… just not the official cover. The Liquid Silver logo still needs to be added to the top. Oh, but I’m so excited I couldn’t wait to show the whole world!

All the credit for this design goes to Anne Cain who very patiently kept tweaking the design until I was happy. Oh, and I am happy!!… Happy dancing all over the house!

Okay, so there seems to be a whole bunch of writers in my world going through the editing process. All with varying degrees of satisfaction.

 I just finished my first set of edits on The Healer’s Garden. (Not that there will be more, just that it’s my first time, anyhoo…) It was a relatively painless process of skimming through the novel, fixing poor word choices, and tightening purple prose. (I gave up on commas and let my editor deal with my pepper shaker method of distributing the little buggers in my writing.) Two days later I had the final manuscript sent back to my editor. If I understand correctly, it went to the proofers and then it’s off to the printers.

Now, my CP on the other hand, is in the beginning stages of edits and she’s tearing her hair out. She has a major cut in her word count (which didn’t come as a shock to her as the original manuscript tipped the scale at nearly 150K), but her editor has asked her to revamp several characters including the hero.

Then there’s a blogger friend who just finished the edits of her crime novel and though I don’t have the specifics, it sounded like she had some word count issues and tightening and had to revamp some scenes.

Why, do I mention all this? Because I envy them. (Ah, did you see that one coming?)

I just can’t believe that my first novel wouldn’t require some major revisions like scene deletions or character development or… I don’t know, something. Sure, I had two other authors and a friend read through it and offer suggestions and I did a major rewrite myself, but I’m still a little noodgie. Is my book truly the best it can be at this point?

Do I trust my editor. Absolutely.

Do I trust my own talent as a writer. Not even sort of!

I think I would be sitting more comfortably if I had gone through the hair-pulling, keyboard-banging, late night frustration of being forced to look at my novel through fresh eyes.

And maybe I’m just being paranoid.

Either way, my edits are finished and my novel is out of my hands. I get one more look through when I get the galleys, but if I understand correctly, no major changes can be made at that stage of the game. It’s basically a check for spelling. (I think.)

Anyway, I’m just curious how your edits went or what you expect when you get them. Do tell.

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