It's amazing how quickly the year goes! This year has been a bit of a roller coaster for my family emotionally, so that's what comes to mind, but there have been many things I've accomplished in my writing life. Here's the short list:
It's that time of year. Auld Lang Syne and all. The rush of Christmas is over. A bit of nostalgia creeps in and we wonder where did the year go?
For many of us, 2010 wasn't as kind as former years. I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. In fact, I'm trying to sweep it swiftly off the calendar as I chase dust bunnies from beneath the couch with my broom. The past is done and I won't dwaddle on how things could've been better. But, I will appreciate the accomplishments achieved and lessons learned along the way.
- I reconnected with my local RWA chapter (CFRWA). I can't express how wonderful it is to walk into a room filled with a group of people who get what it means to be a writer.
- I created a blog website~ Kristal Lee Romances. Some days I praise the wisdom of that decision, some days I curse it. Because some days, there aren't enough hours in the day to attend to everything.
- I joined the New Kids on the Block and have been honored to get to know them and follow their journeys as I trudge through my own.
- I attended my first RWA conference. The opportunity came in the midst of personal chaos. But, with the hubster's encouragement and family support, I went. Definitely a scenic high point along the bumpy, curvy, slippery road that is and was the Year 2010.
- I joined The Season as a book reviewer. Although this crunches into my writing time, it's been time well spent. By reading more, especially my genre, has helped me improve my writing skills.
- I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I discovered how to set writing goals and keep them. As a result...
- I completed the first draft of Howlin' Hearts, a WIP that had been in production for nearly two years. And more good news, three other stories evolved during the process. Zippidity-do-dah!!
- Live healthier. I want to make a conscious effort to eat better, exercise, and niche out some quality time for myself. All sadly lacking in 2010.
- Increase my circle of writer friends, online and in person, by participating in online classes and local workshops.
- Write a minimum of 500 words a day. Whether it's a blog post, a book review, or a few paragraphs on my WIP, I want to develop a daily habit of writing.
- Complete at least three (first draft) manuscripts.
- Revise and polish at least two manuscripts.
- Submit at least one ready-to-go manuscript to agents/editors.
So there you have it. My out with the old and in with the new. What's yours?
I moved twice to two different states. Employment was an issue for me and my husband. He retired due to lack of job prospects. I went back to work. We watched our financial security disappear. My emotions took a rollicking ride on a roller coaster which, of course, affected my writing.
I started blogging at New Kids. I began reading and reviewing for The Season For Romance. I wrote a couple of short stories. I updated my own blog more often and began to follow and contribute to other writer's sites. I participated in NaNoWriMo, even though one of my moves came in the middle of the event and I was unable to finish. I started testing the waters of social networking and instantly found a new way to reach out to other writers. I also realized it was addictive and could easily become a distraction from working on my manuscript.
Writing in short spurts kept my mind active when I felt overwhelmed by the big picture. Eventually, I began to re-visit my manuscripts. I have two completed romantic suspense and one paranormal/fantasy WIP. Actually, I have more manuscripts than that but the rest are on the revision back burner.
During the first six months of 2010, I was determined to learn as much as I could about my craft. I participated in over ten workshops, read a ton of books, perused countless blogs and websites, and picked the brains of published writers. My critique group was active until summer when we all became preoccupied with other things. Summer heralded the worst of my problems but I persevered. In between vows to never stop writing, I succumbed to a few pity parties where I was sure my writing sucked and I would never get published. Luckily, I bounced back quickly but once you give birth to doubt, it always lurks in the back of your mind.
I finally realized this writing/publication thing does not happen quickly, if at all. This was perhaps the toughest lesson for an impatient person like me who is used to making things happen quickly. After receiving the request for a full by The Wild Rose Press, and failing to reach contract status after several revisions, I was a bit despondent. It was perhaps the nicest rejection I've ever received. I would even classify it as "encouraging". I was asked for other manuscripts. But I wanted a contract and didn't get it. I couldn't see past that one point. Several more rejection letters later, I rolled up my shirt sleeves and dug in for the long term. I tested the waters with a few contests, even after I swore I would never enter another one. Improved scores but no finals. That signalled progress and it kept me motivated.
Well, here I am. It's close to December 31st. My New Year's resolution last year was to get published. It didn't happen. But a wise person once told me, "You never truly fail until you stop trying."
I feel last year was a trial by fire. I got scorched in a few places but I heal quickly. Just as I learned about pacing my stories, I also learned to pace my aspirations and goals. I set short term and long term goals so I still have a sense of achievement as I work toward that "brass ring".
I still plan to jot down a few New Year's resolutions. I prefer to call them goals. And yes…first on the list is to get published. If you're going to have goals, you might as well aim high!
Remeber Wilson? Oh, how I wish I had a Wilson. I could really use his off the wall advice right now. Of course I'd probably talk too much and never truly understand his sage, especially if it had anything to do with South American jungle dances and poisonous darts.
Well, let's pretend there is a fence between us. And I've royally screwed up in Tim fashion and you're Wilson.
I had high hopes for Christmas vacation. Since I homeschool my kiddos I always look forward to our breaks. It is during our breaks that I hope to get lots of writing done, especially during Christmas. But this year the first half of the break came and went. The second week is in full swing and I haven't even felt like I've had a break. I thought I'd have a chance to sit at my computer and get some work done, but I obviously overlooked a little detail.
It seems that in my absence on the computer over the last six weeks my kids have taken over. It seems everytime I walk into MY room to sit at MY computer there is a teenager in MY chair under the guise of doing something important. As I stomp away from my room in a great pout I often have this image of Bill Murray ridding the golf course of gophers. I haven't come up with the perfect solution yet. Any ideas would be very much appreciated. No poisonous darts, please.
I only have a few days left of this Christmas vacation. Our houseguests are currently looking for a place of their own (the looking should have started weeks ago). I love them, but six weeks is long enough. The sooner my kids and husband get their front room the sooner I get my office space back and the sooner I can get back to everything I've let drop. And here comes the weight on my shoulders, my time is so very limited that I've had no time for correspondence. I'm scared to death to open my email, my spam folder has got to be in the tens of thousands and Lord knows there are probably people out hunting my head for not taking care of my responsibilities. Apologies just never seem enough when balls have been dropped, so Wilson, now that (hopefully) life will be getting back to normal what would you do?
I'm hoping soon I can come up with some better thought out blogs on my writing process. I know I'd much rather write those then the oh-crap-it's Tuesday blogs. Yeah, I've had difficulty even knowing what day of the week it is for the past few weeks. I think I might have even forgotten what my name is. I told hubs one day last week that I felt like a speck of dust on a spirograph and everyone was orbitting around me just out of my reach. Now I feel like I need to take off in a sprint to try and catch up. :) I've even wondered if I should just stop all together, but the writer in me refuses to give up hope.
Thank you to everyone for being here and being wonderful!
And for the first time, I’m in the holiday mood. Now, don’t freak – I don’t have a six-foot scotch pine lighted in front of my living room window (next year…) and I haven’t made fudge, peanut brittle or even ribbon cookies. But I have mailed my cards, sent presents to my far away loved ones, and I’m off the day job until the first of the year. My Santa Claus collection is scattered around the living room and there are empty stockings to hang.
Add to all that, we’re living in our own home for the first time in four years. I hadn’t rented since I was in college up until our move to the Midwest. It’s good to be a homeowner, as long as the furnace keeps chugging away and the pipes don’t freeze.
Unpacking the Christmas ornaments to find just the right ones for my 2.5 quart living spruce, I found something else among the angels, the glittery balls, and the tinsel. I found a box full of memories. My son’s collectable basketball ornaments of NBA greats including Shaq and Scottie Pippen were boxed up and waiting to be hung. A homemade tree from scouts with my son’s fourth grade picture brought tears to my eyes. A lifetime of memories, in one plastic tub.
Moving into my new house last month made me question my need to hold on to objects. Why do I need three sets of plates, enough cups to run my own coffee shop or clothing from size 8 up to well, my current size? Am I just a material girl?
My brother has a silver Christmas tree with a rotating light that changes the color of the tree from red, to blue, to green and finally to yellow. He got it at a yard sale for five bucks. I covet that tree.
Because when we were kids, that was the Christmas tree that sat in our living room. I liked the blue tree the best.
Tonight as I look over my Christmas collection that’s not worth a dime to anyone else, I realize, that it’s the memories tied to the items that I’m trying to protect, to save, to keep.
And so, on this Christmas Eve, I wonder, what items do the New Kids blog readers cherish most? And are these trinkets valuable in financial terms or like mine, attached to precious memories of the past?
Share with me. And here’s hoping you all have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a joyful New Year.
"Jolly" hardly describes my feelings this holiday season. More like anxious. Financially strapped. In limbo. Homeless. This has been a tough year.
Hubby turned 62 in March. Early retirement was not an option. As a surprise, I took him away to a B&B for his birthday weekend. The next Monday he came home around 10 a.m., the victim of a layoff due to restructuring. A dubious excuse since there were younger men with less seniority and a poorer performance record who were retained. We're fairly certain it had something to do with company healthcare costs for senior employees.
The bad news…well, thankfully, nothing bad has happened since we arrived here. I've had a first and second interview with a very interesting company. We've got the social security thing figured out and are on track to recover. We may even get money back because they underpaid us. I know, I'm confused, too. First they take it away. Then they pay us more than they took. It's the government. What can I say…other than I'll believe it when I see it.
I started this blog by saying I didn't feel "jolly". It's true. But I do feel extremely blessed with family and friends who love me. In the end, that's all that matters. And being published! :)
I'm getting lost in all the hustle and bustle. There are only a few days until Christmas and I have yet to do my shopping, which isn't totally unusual. I've been known to wait until Christmas Eve. There for awhile it had become tradition for Hubs and I. This year however, I'm really wanting to make some candy and cookies.
Of course, there is an ulterior motive. We've been attending holiday functions all over and every place we go they have plates and plates of goodies. Goodies that I know if I munch on I'll be sick for several days, possibly even a whole month. That's no way to spend Christmas especially since I've spent many in that exact state.
Soooo, I pulled out the good 'ol Betty Crocker Cookbook and sifted through the recipes to see what gluten-free ones I could find or ones that would be adaptable. I've never been one to enjoy baking, but I am looking forward to it this year, more so than I am shopping.
Here is my list, you know, just in case you need to find something gluten-free for a relative or a friend.
Old Time Fudge
Toffee Butter Crunch
As for the cookies, I'll be making No-bake and Monster Cookies. I've been making Monster Cookies for years. This recipe comes from Allrecipes.com
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, white sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs, two at a time, then stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix in baking soda and oats until well blended. Stir in the chocolate candies and chocolate chips. Roll dough into 2 inch balls, and place 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
I hope your Christmas is filled with many blessings.
Today, I'm getting back to some regular routines that stopped when I started working back in late September. For the first time in a long time, I wrote in my journal. I love to write in my journal. It has served as a place to store the ups and downs of my life. It has also been a place where I have brainstormed about story ideas and plot points for my writing. It may take a couple of weeks before I get back into the daily journal writing habit, but I see it as the first step in getting back to my writing and revising. In November I tried NaNoWriMo and wrote just of 10k words, but had to stop as my work hours increased to a level that made it impossible. The day I realized I had to give up on NaNo for this year is the last time I wrote anything in my journal. (BTW: NONE of it is re-printable here.)
I'm so thrilled that the Christmas shopping season is almost at an end. Life will get back to normal, and my first step back to normalcy is writing in my journal. Does anyone else keep a journal? Do you write in it daily or just occasionally? Do you find sparks of inspiration for you writing in your journal?
When we think of research, one thing comes to mind. BOOKS! The endless number of books that we look through to find the information we need. The library becomes our best friend and we spend hours looking through maps, documents, and countless other bits of information needed to make our book as genuine as possible. Even though we write fiction, there are things we want to get as accurate as possible. For instance, the setting of our book. Regardless of the era, the place is important and the details should be also. If there is a battle scene, we study weapons and movement. Now that we have the internet, this is a lot easier for us to do.
But, I find there is one research that we do all the time, and may not even know it. People watching. The characters in our books are just like people in real life. They smile, cry, and have nervous ticks. The love, laugh, fight, and get angry. Maybe they have a funny walk, or they tap their nails on the table when they are in deep thought. Does your heroine have a beauty mark or maybe your hero has a crooked nose? These are all things that we notice in ourselves or other people.
How many times have you been sitting in a restaurant looking around at the scenery and noticed someone doing something in particular and found yourself later, adding that to your book? We all do it. I know that the heroine in my first novel bites her bottom lip when nervous which is something I do. I have tasted whisky so I could describe it better. I have been deer hunting and helped butcher it so that I was better able to describe it in my book.
Ever sense I became a writer, I realize that I pay more attention to the things around me. The sunrise looks different; more vibrant. Animals actions are more involved. Peoples laugh sound different, and all because I am more focused on my surroundings.
So, my question is, am I the only one who has done this or does it go along with the territory?
~ Sarah Hoss
I recently got a new TV that's connected to the internet. While I love the TV, it's had the unfortunate effect of making me more addicted to the tube than usual because I can now download unlimited Netflix instantly. One of my choices ended up being the later seasons of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (sadly, no longer so new :)). Now, as cheesy as this show is, I really loved it when I was a kid, so I decided to relive some of my childhood. Of course, watching it more than 15 years later, I now see that what I once thought were cool effects are a bit outdated, the plots are often silly--or key plot points defy logic, and the villains often overact.
wAaack...time management escaped me this week and Thursday arrived ahead of schedule leaving me unprepared for today's blog post. I hope you don't mind me grabbing one from my blog on Alpha and Beta males...
|Click here for Official Website|
Since I was already thinking about alpha and beta males before viewing this film, the matter continued to mull around in my brain. Romance readers (and writers) often gravitate toward those larger than life Alpha males. Their heroes can be reserved and quiet, but when it matters they must step into the ring without hesitation and beat the crap out of anyone who messes with their heroine.
Taking a step back from Alpha males for a moment, I ponder how the heroine roles have changed for today's readers. These women are no longer the helpless females tied to the railroad tracks who are forced to wait for the hero to rescue them. In these modern times, readers expect the heroine to act in her own behalf. Getting help from the hero is okay, but he isn't expected to do all the work. The dynamic between hero and heroine has evolved. The Alpha male now has to deal with an Alpha female. And this is exactly why Prince of Persia worked so well for me.
Dastan and Princess Tamina are equally pig-headed and equally matched. They clash from the get go and I believe this type of delicious conflict builds the massive sexual tension that readers and viewers expect.
What about your thoughts? Who is your favorite Alpha male (character)? Who is your favorite Beta male (character)?
it's KRISTAL kLEEr
This past week I read two Harlequin Presents that made me forget I was a writer. Similar plots, even similar character archetypes, nothing unique. So what happened?
I expect all those things from single title. Not from a strict formula-based, category length novel. Category makes me think light and fluffy. Phew…was I wrong!
And it opened my eyes to something. I'm aware characters should have emotional depth and that it's often created by strife. They must suffer. But more importantly, the READER must suffer. If my readers have not emotionally attached to my characters, they will not remember my book.
I can honestly say I was so involved with the hero and heroine of these two titles that I forgot about writing. I forgot about multiple POVs and head hopping. I forgot about purple prose. I forgot about the "ly" words.
If you're curious, the two Presents titles scheduled for January release are "The Society Wife" by India Grey and "Front Page Affair" by Mira Lyn Kelly. Both are chock full of steamy sex, deeply developed characters and great conflict. The dialogue in "Front Page Affair" was especially witty and engaging. Full reviews are upcoming at www.theseasonforromance.com
I used to hate the holidays, or so I thought. But as I've gotten older I realized it wasn't the holidays that I hated so much as it was all the expectations that went along with them. The first Thanksgiving hubs and I were together we had five, maybe six, Thanksgiving dinners to attend. And being eighteen at the time, skipping one of them was not an option, unless I wanted to be responsible for WWIII. What was worse is that good ol' hubs was not expected to attend, but boy howdy if I would have declined or chosen not to show because of a previous engagement . . . Yes, well my mother-in-law (I do love her very much) wasn't the easiest to please.
It wasn't until MIL had a stroke a few years back right before Christmas that everyone's expectations flew right out the window. Christmas shopping and baking couldn't hold a candle to spending every waking moment at the hospital. Of course, as petty as some people can be, it did hurt a few feelings when we chose to sit at MIL's bedside instead of breaking bread with other family members.
That year, I didn't care what others thought. I didn't run around like a chicken with its head cut off praying I'd survive another fruitcake. It was also the first year since Hubs and I had gotten together that I didn't suffer with what I had thought had been the stomach flu.
You see, it is in my nature to be a people pleaser. I freak when I am the cause of someone's upset. I feared my world would tip out of balance and crumble down around me. But that one Christmas taught me otherwise.
I believe we should be thankful for all things. Yes, even life and death things. The last four years, ever since MIL's stroke, have been the most calming four holidays I've ever experienced. I have a feeling that if it hadn't been for MIL's stroke I'd still be hating Christmas. Now I take the time to enjoy the sights and sounds. I've also come to realize that it's not about the gifts you buy or don't buy, it's about the precious time spent with loved ones.
I am fortunate enough that my MIL made a decent recovery and that our holidays with her have been extended, each moment is a precious gift. I did however, just spent the past week helping those I love say good-bye to a very dear and cherished woman. This part of the world will be much dimmer without her loving kindness spreading good cheer. And I can tell you, not a single one of us thought last year would be her last Christmas, but it was.
Her family will miss her deeply, but I know she'd want everyone of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to not let petty disagreements keep them from loving each other deeply. She'd also wish for them to enjoy sights and sounds, and especially the baking smells. She'd take delight in every tray of homemade cookies and pies given in her memory.
I know I haven't been around much. My life is pretty full with changing diapers and all the kinds of things that come along with three toddlers (which is probably why this post may seem a bit chaotic) and as non-glamorous as it has been, I wouldn't change a thing. This Christmas my family has the pleasure, the honor, of loving these three darling (okay, so they do have their moments) little girls during a very difficult time in their lives. My prayer is that each of you have a wonderful time spent with family during the holidays.
As I bring this post to a close, remember to love deeply, even those family members you might have a disagreement with. You never know, it might be the last holiday you get with them. The close call with my MIL taught me that. I no longer dread the holidays and bah humbug doesn't cross my lips anymore.
Well, the baby is fussing. It's time for me to go.
This week I had an exciting experience. On Thursday, a woman I went to high school with sent me a note on Facebook. She has a friend who is interested in writing in the romance genre. She asked what kind of advice I could give her. Wow, asking me for advice!?! I thought that was pretty cool. I responded to my former classmate. I told her to tell her friend that writing was the most important part of writing romance. I then told her about RWA, blogs and other network building ideas.
On Friday, the would be writer became part of my Facebook community. We sent notes back and forth about the writing process. I felt like a mentor. I was passing on the knowledge I have gained over my years of writing. I invited my new writer friend to let me know if she had any other comments. I'm so excited to be one of the helping hands in this woman's budding writing career. I wish her much success, and hope to be able to watch her grow as a writer. I'm an unpublished new kid, but I found that I still have something to give to other new writers.
I’m a foodie. I love Top Chef. I love the new All Star Season. My former supervisor and I get on a roll and talk about all the food competition shows. And sometimes, one of these chefs takes a challenge to a new, stupid level. Cooking to order during a catering gig. And most times? They fail.
Why? Cooking one lovely morsel at a time is terrific for a restaurant or a dinner, but when 150 people are waiting for you to feed them, the stress and the wait can be overwhelming.
So why am I telling the faithful NKOTB readers this interesting yet off topic tidbit?
Because that’s how I’ve been handling my writing career. Writing to order.
*250 words for a coffee contest? Sure.
*Your most magical Christmas memory essay? I can do that.
*Sweet Spring Novella? How long do you want it?
And when my quickly dashed off entries don’t place or sell, I’m disappointed.
December is the time to make my writing goals for 2011 and this year, I want more focus. What do I want done when I look back at this time next year? How do I want my career plan to guide me?
Last year my career plan had a financial goal, a date, and a lot of strategies to reach that goal. But looking at it now, it was too deep in the details. So I have to restructure that plan as well. Make it more of a big picture process.
My main goal in 2011 is to sell a full-length manuscript. I know. Not something I can control. But I can control writing, editing and submitting the manuscripts I already have completed. And not stopping at rejection number one.
Sharon Sala talked about a book she wrote that wasn’t in her “normal genre”. She and her agent sent it everywhere until it found the best home for the book. And they found it. But it took years. (She tells the story much better than I do…)
But even with my longer works, I don’t have a focus. Bright and shiny ideas call to me and I want to write their stories. Romance, mystery, paranormal, young adult….but if I keep jumping from one thing to the next, I have no basis to build a world. And each of these stories, the worlds I’m building seems to want a second sequel book. What about me, my secondary characters call out? When will I find my Mr. Right?
This year my goal is to focus. To have my completed manuscripts out the door and into the world, looking for a home. And if they are out, looking for homes, my writing time can be focused on writing the next story.
Write, edit, submit. Rinse and repeat.
Maybe that’s my career plan?
What goals are you setting this next year? How did you do this year? Did you get your manuscript out in the world?
~ Lynn Cahoon
Can't afford to give a loved one an all expense paid trip around the world? Present them with a hard copy of Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.
Know an aspiring prima dona? Ballerina Dreams: A True Story by Lauren Thompson may be the stocking stuffer you need.
Married to a hockey fan? Slip a copy of Tough Guy: My Life on the Edge by Bob Probert under the tree.
No matter what subjects interest your family and friends, a book is the perfect present. And, if you're an aspiring author you'll be supporting the industry that will one day support you. So, while you're strategizing your mall run map out a route to your local bookseller. Give the gift of knowledge, adventure and imagination. Everyone will love you for it.
When I pick up a category today, I'm constantly surprised by the vast differences in how the story is formatted within the same genre. Consistency seems to have fallen by the wayside which makes it difficult for an aspiring writer to understand what in the heck the publisher wants.
I grew up reading Harlequin Presents. My mother and I were avid readers who searched garage sales, libraries and second hand stores for used titles because we read through our monthly subscription in a matter of days. We were romance snobs. The contemporary Harlequin romance was beneath us. We felt they were not as well written and served up fluffy story lines with minor conflicts. We preferred the meatier, darker, more complex plots of Presents. The exotic locations were also a big hit for two armchair travelers like us.
Years have passed since I curled up in the corner of a sofa, whisked away to faraway lands by the likes of Anne Mather, Violet Winspear and Anne Hampson. My reading tastes have changed. I’ve changed. Presents has changed.
There was a time when you could pick up a Harlequin Presents and be assured that no matter who the author, the pages between front and back cover would contain a well written, engaging tale. These days it’s a crap shoot and I don't understand why.
I recently offered to read several Presents for a site where I contribute as a book reviewer. I didn't expect NY Times best selling titles although I've read category authors who have advanced to that level.
My first venture into the new Presents was a disappointment. The author (who has a lengthy history of writing romance as well as Presents) crafted a story that was poorly written, repetitious and filled with archaic “purple prose”. It was…well, boring. It didn’t have to be. It could have been quite good if the author had cut out the excessive head hopping and, deleted a lot of repetitive passages that rambled on and on about how the hero or heroine was feeling. After the fifth or six time of telling (not showing), I couldn’t decide if the writer considered her readers distinctly obtuse or whether she was filling up pages with needless prose because she was short on storyline.
Let me clarify something. As a writer, I can only aspire to achieve the admirable success of this author. I respect her accomplishments which is one reason why I requested her book. But as a reader, I expect more. Especially from an author who has a history of producing top notch works. A shorter category length novel does not excuse a writer from presenting a well crafted story. And it should not excuse the publisher from rejecting a manuscript just because the author has a fan base.
Thinking back over all the manuscripts I've written I come to realize that only one is set during the frigid winter. I wonder why that is. It's not like I enjoy the hundred-twelve, plus humidity during the summer. Come to think of it I think my favorite times are when one season passes the baton to the next. I love the freshness of spring after the decay of winter. And I love when the hints of summer and the promise of swimming as spring gives way to the hundreds. Then there is the turning of the leaves right before they fall to the ground. But I think my most favorite time is when mist clings to the surrounding hillsides.
Last night as I was driving home from town I couldn't help but feel entranced by the fog. Once again, I wonder why I don't use this type of weather in my stories. Do you have a particular weather theme running through your stories? What is your favorite season?
We are well into December, and here in Wisconsin we had our first measurable snow this weekend. The ground is covered in a sparkly white blanket. Christmas lights shine from dozens of houses. Driving to and from work in the dark provides a wonderful show. I love seeing houses decked out in Christmas lights. As a child, we would go out and look at all the decorated houses as we searched for Santa on Christmas Eve. Lights weren't so abundant in those days because of the cost of running the lights, but there was one house in our neighborhood that was all lit up with a hand carved Santa and sleigh on the top. Another house that had so many lights people traveled from far and wide to drive by it creating traffic problems in their neighborhood. I wonder if the neighbors complained. Now we have inexpensive lights that are just pennies to light up the neighborhood. I love it.
Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas in your neighborhood? Was there a house you remember from your childhood? How about a traffic jam inspiring house?
It was there I discovered that the two authors wrote romance novels.
Part of me wanted to leave. It wasn’t due to any disdain for the genre. I’d never read a romance novel and had no opinion of them. However, one thought swirled through my head. Can I ask a few questions about the industry and yet not feel obligated to buy one? More importantly, what would my wife say I did buy one?
Still, my desire to be published pushed me forward. Two accomplished authors sat before me, even if they wrote romance. As I approached, I feared what they might think about a guy approaching them. It was the literary equivalent of a male walking up to an employee at Victoria’s Secret.
The two multi-published authors, Anna DeStefano and Jennifer St. Giles, could not have been more gracious. They answered every question I had and I must have quizzed them for at least fifteen minutes. They even mentioned their writer’s group, Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), and suggested I should stop by. They claimed to have male members and said that I wouldn’t feel out of place. (Yeah, like I really believed that one.) Besides, as they pointed out, the manuscript I was working on was geared to women. Who better to teach me how to market my book than their group?
At the end of the Q&A, I asked them, “How can I thank you?”
It was Anna who said with a smile, “Well, you could buy a book.”
Like I feared, I knew that was coming. And I knew I needed to do it. I looked down at the two books and scanned the covers and the blurbs. One was a sweet, slightly suspenseful love story. It had a cover clearly emblazoned with the word “Harlequin.” The other one, a paranormal, looked interesting, except that it had a shirtless male with ripped abs on the cover.
Which was the lesser of two evils?
I chose the Harlequin novel, Anna’s book. I couldn’t fathom going to the counter with the other one, much less my wife seeing it. Anna signed it, messing up the first copy as my name was similar to her brother’s. And then I left.
A few months later, I did eventually make it to a GRW meeting. I’d taken my wife and kids to the airport early that morning so they could visit my wife’s parents in Los Angeles. I’d spent the previous night in a Barnes & Noble with my kids at a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows release party, getting home some time after 1:00 a.m. Given the little sleep I’d had, I’m surprised I didn’t sleep through the meeting. I bumped into Anna there, who remembered me from the signing.
That was over three years ago.
I’ve bought quite a few more books in this genre since that day, including Jennifer’s book with the half-naked male on top (as well the other three books in Jennifer’s four-book series), several books of Anna’s, and a whole host of authors I would have never even heard of if not for that day. However, there are still book covers that make me blush and some storylines I can’ t even begin to consider reading. And given my likes/dislikes, that probably won’t change.
But then that makes me like everyone else at the meeting.
How about you? Have you ever bought a book solely because of the cover or declined to buy one for the same reason? In the case of the covers you declined on, did you ever change your mind? I would love to hear about it.
Thank you for coming by, Walt. It's great to hear your story and hear about your start writing romance novels. Best of luck in all your publishing ventures!!
~ Rebecca Lynn
Well, it's been a while since I last posted, but I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We had our first big gathering (20 odd people) in three years, and although overwhelming, it was great to see extended family.
Whew! November was a blur. After balancing work, six book reviews, NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving I'm pooped. No rest for the weary writer, though. With the first draft of Howlin' Hearts completed, I'm mentally plotting the next book in the series, Howlin' Good Time while holiday shopping. This weekend, between a mani-pedicure and a holiday party I'll hash out the characters and a potential outline. My goal is to write another 50,000 word novel in December.
Aaack! I'm behind already. Not one word written. There's a lot in my head, but nothing on the page and too many holiday distractions threatening to cut into my writing schedule. What's a writer to do? Tighten the time management belt, that's what.
During NaNo I learned that working with an Online Timer helps keep me focused and writing non-stop for 60 minute increments. Doing this, I average about 700 words per hour. I hope to increase to 1000, eventually. Knowing my average wph helps me formulate a reasonable writing schedule depending on the week at hand and thereby reducing my stress. A much needed blessing during this hectic time of year.
So between the Fa-la-la-la's and the Ho-Ho-Ho's, my fingers will be twitching across the keyboard as fast as ol' St. Nick's elves racing to finish their toys. Here's hoping a little elven magick will rub off on me.
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Alexa Bourne and I write romantic suspense. My goal is to be a published author. My dream is to be a full-time writer. This goal and this dream are not the same. The goal, I believe, is achievable. The dream is…a dream. Regardless, it is important that you remember both of these as you continue to read.
I am not a new kid on the writing block. I’ve been submitting manuscripts to editors and agents since 1999. I’ve made all the “newbie” mistakes and had contest judges rake me over the coals. I’ve completed 10 manuscripts and this past Monday I received my 59th rejection. I could spend this whole blog post wallowing in the negatives of pursuing a career in romantic fiction, but that’s not who I am. I CHOOSE to focus on the positive. Why? My goal is to become a published author. Any negativity interferes with that goal and I cannot allow that to happen.
So what are the positives that I keep in mind as I push toward my goal? With each manuscript, I’ve learned more about the industry, the craft of writing and about myself as a writer. With each positive comment, critique partner suggestion and personal rejection (as opposed to the form letters), I choose to celebrate what is working and then focus my attention on how to become a better writer.
Now, this doesn’t mean the rejections no longer hurt. Someone telling me my baby isn’t pretty enough to be a star still forces me to buy some chocolate or a margarita to soothe my wounded soul. However, what’s my goal? That’s right, to be a published author. Being depressed and angry over a rejection or some nasty comments will not make me a better writer. So I only allow myself 24 hours for wallowing, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then I jump right back into the fray, analyze the comments I receive and, if they have any merit, I study what isn’t working in the manuscript and why.
Another negative you’re likely to run into if you stick with this craziness of book writing long enough is professional jealousy. I’ve watched at least 10 friends experience the joy of “The Call” over the years. Some of them I finaled with in contests. Some of them hadn’t been writing long. Was there jealousy? Of course. I’m human, but I can’t let that interfere with my writing or my friendships. AND I DON’T. In my mind, my attitude and my behavior must support my goal of becoming a published author. Ultimately, we’re all on our own journey toward publication. I too can (and will) get “The Call” when my manuscripts are ready and reach the right editor at the right time.
Writing is difficult. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. Getting “The Call” is even harder. At times, it feels like the dim, flickering light at the end of a very long, dark, dangerous tunnel. Still, I choose to search for the positive in every single step I take on that path because I want to be a published author. No matter what I will not give up.
Thanks for letting me hang out with you here on the New Kids’ blog. If you’re interested in learning more about my journey and me, visit my blog (alexabourne.blogspot.com). Also, I’m running a contest on my new website (http://www.alexabourne.com/) for the month of December for writer goodies, including autographed romantic suspense books. Why? Because a writer got published with my last pen name and I’ve been getting her fan mail. Another negative for me, right? Nah! I decided to look at this as an opportunity to reevaluate my writing goals and reinvent myself. Why? Because no matter what I want to be a published author. (Gotta stay focused on the goal!)
- ► 2012 (84)
- ► 2011 (222)
- New Year Imminent
- Out with the Old ~ In with the New
- Whew! Glad That's Over!
- Hidy Ho-Neighbor
- And so this is Christmas....
- My Favorite Things
- Good News, Bad News...
- Merry Christmas!
- Dear Diary
- Chemistry: Truth, Love, and the Writer's Way
- Alpha or Beta
- Bah Humbug
- Lending a Helping Hand
- Blog Contests
- Writing to Order.
- Got Books?
- Love Hurts
- Brrrrrr! You Know, It's Like Twelve Degrees
- It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas!
- Guest Author: Walt Mussell
- Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah...
- No Rest for the Weary Writer
- Tips For Surviving the Rocky Road to Publication
- ▼ Dec (25)
Monday: Food of the Week
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes I
Tuesday: Favorite Recipes II
Wednesday: Foxy Foodies
Thursday: Best Foodie Books
Thursday: Writing Prompt
Friday: Food Network Shows
Friday: Food Shows on TV
Saturday: Foodie Romances
Saturday: Foodie Blogs