Late Friday night, looking for a cup of coffee and an available table in St. Louis, I found myself sitting in a McDonalds with two friends. Writer friends. People who get me when I say, I'm thinking about using poison to murder my victim, and don’t freak out. People who let me ramble on about word viruses, haunted museums, and other bright and shiny’s.
We talked. We drank coffee. We laughed. And then the mood got serious, as did the discussion. What would we do if we had no restrictions? No day job or responsibilities tying us to a place. Think Eat, Love, Pray for writers.
I found that these two people saw me for the person I am, not just the one I let others see. And we all found that our true selves were more alive or visible to this mishmash of friends than we would expect. Especially since we only meet together once or twice a year.
Is it the fact that we all write that makes us notice the details in each other’s lives? Details that sometimes we try to ignore ourselves? Details that don’t come up in casual conversations? And by noticing, is that what makes the bonds stronger?
As I reflect on our ramblings, I realized we were also a plotting group. I brought up my women’s fiction idea, set in a cove by a lake (alas without a lake monster.) As I described the story, they both told me it was a lovely story. But then they gently told me my lovely story had NO conflict, a necessary item if you want a reader to actually WANT to read the book.
Two hours later, we’d fleshed out what was a vague idea about a sad woman standing on a dock to what may be a pretty amazing story of hope and love and a multi-generational friendship.
Would I have gotten there on my own? Maybe. Is it still my story? Definitely. Talking out the plot allowed me to filter out what would work and what was clutter. I’m still not ready to start writing. But when I am, my story will be richer because of my willingness to open my process up to some trusted friends.
How about you? Do you work with other writers? Have a plotting group? Tell me your experiences, but remember, mileage may vary.
I don’t remember who originally coined the phrase, “woulda, coulda, shoulda” meaning we should stop dwelling on past regrets and embrace the future but it was rampant back then. The message still works today. Why spend time examining and re-examining past mistakes, poor decisions or wrong turns in life? We’ve all done things we regret. Hopefully, we’ve learned a few lessons by way of experience. It’s what molded us into who we are today.
A recent thread on my Facebook page resulted in a mass of swirling introspect. Sometimes that creates a murky mess and at others it cleanses the water.
A comment was posted stating something along the lines of "if my twenty year old self could look ahead and see where I am today and the direction my writing has taken, she would be very proud." I guffawed out loud. My twenty year old self was a pale version of who I am today. I was timid…painfully so, chaste, uber conservative, and would have thrown a pillow over my head at the thought of writing erotica. Then life happened. I evolved into a stronger, tougher, and more adventurous soul. I grew into myself, though I often refer to it as being a “late bloomer”.
When I was twenty, I sought the white picket fence lifestyle. An Ozzie and Harriet home in Mayberry USA. Of course, much of that was a result of my upbringing. And yet there has always been a bit of wild child or “rebel” in me. I just never gave it free rein until I was older.
I was blessed with parents who never held me back and encouraged exploration of new ideas. I’m sure they shuddered when I went from one phase to another but never showed it outwardly. I recall arguing theology with our Catholic priest at the ripe old age of seven. I visited almost every organized religious affiliation before I was 25, including Wicca, New Age Metaphysics (which is where I feel most comfortable today) and even a Jewish synagogue.
High school graduation saw each of my three brothers gifted a typewriter. I was awarded a sewing machine. It was my first realization that I didn't like being branded a "typical" female.
And perhaps that’s why life has delighted in throwing me so many curve balls along the way. My mother used to say, “Debbie, your life is like the Perils of Pauline”. I had a young man break off a relationship once because, as he put it, “Weird things happen to you that don’t happen to anyone else. And it happens so often, you think it’s normal. I can’t take it anymore.”
Well, harrumph! No guts, no glory. When I accepted a job on the west coast in Sacramento, California. I took it. I was living in Atlanta, Georgia at the time. My first meeting with my new employer brought a round of applause. She promptly told me the entire staff was amazed that a single woman would travel alone, across the country to a place she had never been, and start a new life. It didn’t seem strange to me so perhaps I AM abnormal.
Just like now - I’m embarking on writing Paranormal and Paranormal Erotica. A new adventure. I’m excited about the journey although I could never have predicted it even ten years ago.
So now I ask you…Has your life turned out differently than you anticipated and how does it make you feel? Have you embraced change or did you reel it in and stay the course? There’s no right or wrong answer because we’re all different with different needs. I’m just curious.
So I started looking around, and a certain contest caught my eye. It's a contest that I've entered my Scottish historical in twice now. The first time was in 07. If they would have given out awards for last place I would have done awesome. One of the judges, bless her heart, had to have known I'd only been writing a few months. Hey, she thought my story had promise so that was something at least.
After a major rework, and a persistent determination to take first place in my category, I entered it again in 09. I finaled, but I did not take first. That's okay. I reworked it a little to give a different twist and match my original vision.
Then I put it down and began working on another story. Three stories later and I haven't even given this one a second thought. Okay, I lie. Over the last month or two I keep saying, it's time to get it back out.
But I haven't.
Then I wrote that blog last week about contests.
But I still didn't open the file.
Until last night.
You see I really want to earn that first place prize. (If I told you what it was I'd have to hang you by your toes from the turrets.)
Besides, I have a really good story. I love it. Yeah, sure, it needs a little work, but I still love it. And it goes back to my Celtic roots. AND it goes back to my intrique into the mystical.
Anyway, I told you all of that really for nothing other than to fill space. *g* Seriously though, the reworking and the original vision of this story has a slight paranormal bent to it. And I know there are rules to this whole type of world building thing.The thing is I'm not sure what those rules are, or if I make them up as I go.
I have ghosts. Do I come up with what they can and can't do? Like they can walk through walls but not over water. Can they have assigned humans they can guide but can't reveal certain information (like what the villain is up to)? And what happens if they break the rules? Or is that a no-no?
All right all you paranormies, I need help and I need it STAT.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my online groups had a workshop on genealogical searches. The workshop had some great information in it, and renewed my interest in the genealogy of my family and my husband's family. I had done some work in the late 80's early 90's and gather quite a bit of information. Since the workshop ended I have been getting lost in a genealogical research quest. I have joined ancestory.com and I am planning a trip to several towns and counties in Wisconsin. I am energized by the search.
This search has also sparked writing ideas. Ideas that I jot notes on while I'm researching our families. But all this researching has absorbed me, and days go by without writing. I know I have to refocus on my writing soon, but the quest for my roots has consumed me for now. There are many good stories in all the genealogy. For instance, my great great grandparents were from Denmark. My g-g-g grandmother worked for the King of Denmark. He adored the little red headed girl who would eventually become my g-g grandmother, so when it was time for her to marry, the King allowed her to be married in the castle.
Ah, romance! How about your family history? Any good stories, Kings, Queens or famous celebrities in your family?
As you know, I am a member of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. The other day, a fellow member asked the group their advice on a situation she found herself in and I think after you read this, you will see that you too, may have been in a similar situation.
Some of us, if not all of us have someone we can call upon for advice. Most of us all them Critique Partners, or CP's. Maybe you don't have a particular person but are a member of a critique group. Or, if you are lucky enough, you have been befriended by a published author who is willing to share their advice.
When this person had their WIP looked at by someone, the CP gave them feedback, and although the feedback was considered good advice, it set in motion questions and self doubt.
Writing in general can give you doubt. This is not an easy industry to get into. Questions arise like, "Am I writing a good story?" "Do I have a unique voice?" "Has this subject matter in which I am writing about already become yesterday's news?" I could go on and on with the questions, but you catch my meaning I think.
So, we look to our fellow writers to help answer these questions. Once in a blue moon someone will not be overly friendly with their words of wisdom, but for the most part, I think all that offer advice are trying to be helpful. That is how all of my encounters have been and I am thankful for that.
But, we all need to remember that it is ONLY advice. In the long run we have to do what is best for us. This is our career. We choose the things that need to be done that will best affect our careers. If we make the wrong choice, then it is a learning curve that we can follow and hope we don't make the same mistake twice.
We don't have to have everyone like our stories. We just need that one agent who will and will want to sign us. From there, we can build our fan base. If a subject has been written about already, like vampires or witches, well, that's okay. It isn't so much the subject but I think it is our unique voice that can bring that subject back to life.
And remember, not every book you write is going to be about that one subject. You will write about many things and you may even write in many genres. Lot's of authors do.
If I can end this post on anything, I want to end it on this. Please, follow your heart. When the sun sets and it is you sitting at your keyboard, pecking away, you have to be happy with what you are putting out there. If you are happy, then others will be happy with it. This is your work, your heart and soul goes into it. It is a reflection of you. If it comes from your heart, then how can it be wrong? You may not get picked up by an agent with your first book and maybe you will, but if you write from your soul, sooner or later, it will happen. And when it does........you know you made the right choices.
Good luck to all of you. Be the best writer that you can be and I can't wait until I can go to the book store and purchase your masterpiece!!!
In my early twenties, I dreamed of being a published Harlequin author. I wrote a book (back in those days it was on a typewriter), submitted it to Harlequin and actually received a wonderful rejection from an editor who requested revisions and a resubmital directly to her. Unfortunately, I was married to a rather crass individual who enjoyed ridiculing my efforts. It was an emotionally and at times physically abusive relationship. Needless to say, my self confidence was fragile. I allowed this man to manipulate me to the point where I threw my manuscript and all my writing efforts into the fireplace and burned them, quite certain I was a dim witted, talentless woman who would never amount to anything.
I didn’t write creatively for another twenty years. After a divorce and a very long stint as a single mom, I focused my efforts on non-fiction. I freelanced for newspapers, designed and authored brochures, newsletters, some technical articles, toyed with marketing blurbs, wrote for Examiner.com…anything to keep my mind off what I really wanted to do which was write romance.
By the time I reached fifty, I had remarried, the kids were doing great with families of their own and I was emotionally healthy. During those interim years, I had incredible adventures while travelling through 35 states, Mexico and Canada. There’s a plethora of experiences stored in my memory banks. One day I thought, "Surely I could use some of it to weave a good romance."
The first thing I learned was the market has changed drastically. It’s no longer the warm, nurturing environment of the seventies. Now it’s competitive, and at times, cold and calculating. Not every published writer is eager to help an old upstart scale the mountain. Rejection letters have ranged from cruel and unnecessary to encouraging with a lot of stops in between.
Still, I refused to be dissuaded from my original quest. I remained adamant that this was “my time”. I ate, slept, dreamed Harlequin, devouring every little tidbit I could to help me achieve my dream. During the past couple of years, I’ve also invested a sizable amount of money and time toward perfecting my craft through contests, workshops and professional organizations.
Apparently, Harlequin didn’t get the memo I’m the “next big thing”. I’ve bombed at every HQ contest…even ones where I did quite well by popular vote but didn’t impress the editors. Last Friday I received my fourth rejection from Harlequin Intrigue. And in only a week! That’s a record. It usually takes months.
On to the rest of the story and the reason for my smile - all due to a wonderful movie called “Eat, Pray, Love”.
Sometimes we become so fixated on things we want, we close our minds to other possibilities. We pray/meditate/visualize for certain possessions or events to make us happy. What we should desire, however, is happiness, love and contentment. It's far better to visualize and want a state of mind rather than a state of residence, a house filled with "stuff", or a specific publishing contract.
I've started meditating on being happy, contented and full of peace and grateful for the blessings in my life. Who's to say being published by Harlequin, or even winning the lottery will offer me happiness? It's actually very limiting. I might be overlooking something I can't even imagine by focusing on what I "think" will make me happy. And how many times have we been disappointed by achieving what we thought we wanted?
That being said, I’m having a ball writing my new grittier, sexier paranormals. I’ve finally found my voice and it’s not well suited for category. But it is some of the best writing I’ve ever done. I don’t believe in coincidences. I think the fast turnaround of my rejection letter was the universe saying, “Keep going. This is who you are.” It validates my efforts.
And that’s why I’m smiling…because for the first time in a long time I’m feeling pretty darn happy on the road less travelled.
Know what you want out of a contest. If you want feedback then look at chapter's reputation and don't be afraid to ask other writers about their experiences. I've had many good experiences with contests. I've also had a few disappointing ones. Not because I didn't final, but because the promised feedback was little to none. Of course, my idea of feedback is more along the lines of clear and concise ideas of how to improve my manuscript, not cryptic messages that don't make a lick of sense. But then the cryptic codes are better than nothing at all, which I have come across as well.
OKay, along the lines of knowing what you want-If you'd like to get your ms in front of a particular agent/editor here are a few tips.
Make sure you can't just cold query. There's no sense in forking over good dough when you can send it straight to the bakery, if you know what I mean. BUT, if it's an editor who only takes agented submissions, or an agent who has twenty assistants and even the best of manuscripts don't have a chance of seeing the 'Great Ones', then by all means contest away.
Once you decide to contest, look at the number of judges. You want to optimize your odds. Three judges with the lowest score dropped is much better than two judges. It never fails, no matter how awesome your manuscript is, there will be someone who just doesn't like it, and with only two judges you've got a 50/50 that one won't.
Other things to consider, do you mind snail mail? I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend another $20.00 on copies and postage. So, I look for electronic submissions. One thing you must be careful with on e-submissions is formatting. Pay close attention to all formatting instructions. Your best bet is to have all hidden text on while you're gong through final edits (I use Word) that way you can make sure your indents and page breaks are where they should be and not hijacked by the Word gremlins.
Let's see, what else is there? Contests are typically put on by chapters as a money maker. Some are excellent deal, others are a little on the pricey side, but again, it depends on what you want out of a contest. Most contests offer something unique, which make them worth entering. One of my favorites is Celtic Hearts probably because I love the Celtic category.
Well, I'm off to peruse upcoming contests. I have my eye on a few. How about you? If you're unsure, I leave you with Stephie Smith's Contest Chart.
It’s a pleasure to be here today.
Although I’ve written on and off throughout my life, it’s only been the recent past where I’ve come out of my shell so to speak and began to engage with writers and readers thanks in large part to the blogosphere and the internet. The world is changing fast and it’s great to see technology providing the opportunity for writers to easily connect with each other and with readers. Partially as a result of this rapid change I decided to take the plunge and self-publish my first novel, “Shrouded Path,” a young adult adventure set in 16th century China.
I’m not a NY Times bestseller or even an established author and as a result don’t have a following or fan base, but I’ve discovered that’s part of the fun for a first book and self-published author. People have asked, “Aron, why are you self-publishing your book? Were you rejected by agents too many times, or are you trying to stick it to the Man and go around traditional publishers?” The answer to those questions is no. Like a lot of life, we make choices and like any important one, deciding to self-publish or traditionally publish involves a good amount of thought and reflection and ultimately has to work for you and your goals. Both have benefits and pitfalls and if you take the time to research them it will help you make a better decision.
As a young adult adventure, “Shrouded Path” draws inspiration from Wuxia fiction a.k.a. Chinese Martial Arts Fiction. The best shorthand comparison is to say it’s similar in basic nature to the film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” with all the bells and whistles of a martial arts tale including emotional conflict, plenty of bad guys and a desire to transport you to a totally different time and place.
My wife originally introduced me to Wuxia and although it is immensely popular in Asia through books, television shows, films and more, the genre is a bit underserved here in the West. We are now starting to see elements of Wuxia pop up in cartoons like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” or in books like Jeannie Lin’s “Butterfly Swords” and Jeff Stone’s “Five Ancestors” series and with the growing importance of China on the world stage we’ll hopefully see more to come.
Included below is a blurb for “Shrouded Path” along with an excerpt. It’s been great sharing the beginning of my publishing journey and no matter what you choose to do as a writer try to enjoy yourself and don’t take things too seriously. Remember, it’s still about having fun no matter what anyone else says.
Shrouded Path - Volume 1 of the Doorway Cycle
Jun Quan dreamed of learning kung fu, but never thought abandonment would be the price he’d pay. Years later, he winds up on the streets of Kunming, one of the most corrupt cities in 16th century China, and finds himself not only protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty, but also searching for clues to his father’s disappearance and its link to the mysterious Red Doorway.
Jun continued to practice for some time until he felt a pair of eyes watching him. Smiling, he continued without opening his own.
“Aren’t you up late, Big Dragon?”
Da Long emerged from the field and walked towards him.
“So are you.”
“I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d find another use for my time.” The motions of Jun’s kung fu grew in intensity and speed.
“I couldn’t sleep either.” Da Long watched Jun, his eyes glued to each motion. “Can you teach me what you’re doing?”
“I could teach you, but would you be willing to learn?”
“Of course I would be willing! How long does it take?”
“Quite some time. I’ve been practicing this particular one for a number of years and have just started to master it.” Still moving in all different directions, Jun began to make his way towards Da Long until he stood right in front of him, his eyes still closed. “It takes a lot of concentration and discipline. Otherwise you might make a mistake.”
With lightning speed, Jun swung an arm around and stopped his hand on the skin of Da Long’s neck. “And in this art, mistakes can be deadly.”
Aron lives in Seattle and assumes his secret storyteller identity whenever possible. Originally from the Motor City, he’s always had a soft spot for Chevys, enjoys collecting vintage movie posters and is a member of Knights of Columbus. Some day when his regime comes to power he plans to require society to read more books and watch less television. His secret lair is at http://www.aronwhite.com
Wow, Aron, this excerpt sounds fantastic. I'm heading out to buy it right now! Thanks so much for coming by NKotWB. We're thrilled to have you! We hope you'll come back when your next book is out.
Writer’s conferences. Love them or hate them, they are part of this crazy business. I attended a local conference last weekend. I’ll have to be honest; I went for the pitch opportunities more than the classes. But boy was I in for a surprise. The classes were top notch. Even those that were focused more on freelance writers than novelists gave me something to think about.
So without further ado, my top five secrets to personalizing a conference so it feels like it was programmed just for you.
Secret One: Sign up early. I got my first, second, and third choice in pitch assignments. Why? I took advantage of early registration rather than waiting to the last minute. Bonus-I got early bird pricing. Sometimes it’s hard to commit to a conference. Especially for people with personalities matching my Libra mentality (read wishy-washy). This is where effective goals come in. I knew I was attending this conference as soon as my annual goals were written. Why not get the registration process done and mark one thing off your to do list?
Secret Two: Search the website for any and all information as soon as it’s available. I copied off a draft workshop schedule months before which allowed me to focus on which workshops I was attending. Of course, I switched a couple once I’d been introduced to the faculty, but I knew what to expect as soon as I walked in the door. The conference I attended also had a Facebook page for status reports.
Secret Three: Look for contests attached to the conference. The Missouri Writer’s Guild conference had a multitude of contests; some were for members only, others open to registered participants. Take advantage of these contests. Often the entry fees are reasonable and the feedback amazing. And if you win, you get attention at the presentation ceremony, in front of all those agents and editors who you’re sending your requested submissions. Free publicity.
Secret Four: You don’t have to be an extrovert to meet new people. I’m shy in new settings. I knew four to five people at this conference. But I wasn’t alone. By just talking to the people sitting next to me at a table, I met two people who were born in Idaho (my home state.) I’ve lived in Missouri for five years without meeting another native Idahoan. What are the odds I’d meet two in one day?
Secret Five: Dress well. The conference started at noon on Friday. Friday’s are casual at my day job. Even with the blazer thrown over my silk shirt and jeans, I felt underdressed with all the suits in attendance. Business casual is never a bad idea. Don’t know what business casual is? Dress pants with a soft shirt. Dressy skirts that don’t cross the line into cocktail wear. Basically what you would wear to work in a nice office that didn’t include bankers or lawyers. Google the term for more ideas on whether or not your look is casual, or business casual.
So now you have my five secrets. Anyone out there have their own secret on making the most of a writer’s conference that they’d like to share?
I’ve had a love affair with words for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it started when my mother encouraged me to pick and use a “word of the day”, preferably one that was listed in Reader’s Digest Word Challenge. Or it might have been when my grandfather would sneak Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury Sci-Fi books to me as a child and I was forced to look up words in a dictionary to understand them.
For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the many different ways to say or describe something. During adulthood, I’ve been known to pause a conversation, roll my eyes upward, and ponder how to phrase a thought until just the right word comes to mind.
As a writer, I’m sure I spend too much time scouring a Thesaurus for words to accurately convey thoughts, actions or emotions. And I hope you do, too. I believe all authors have a responsibility to craft a well written story, devoid of clichés and trite adjectives.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times a cliché adds a certain “feel” to the manuscript, especially if it aids in building a relationship between the reader and a geographical area, or a cultural link. Someone in a writer’s group recently asked if people referred to a certain bird as a “turkey buzzard” or a “turkey vulture”. The general consensus was “turkey buzzard” because of the way the locals referred to it, even though it wasn’t politically correct.
Even Shakespeare displayed acute awareness of the power of words when he penned the now-famous dialogue in “Romeo and Juliet”:
“Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
That being said, writers must be careful not to go too far in the other direction. Esoteric passages over the reader’s head will guarantee they lose interest. Somewhere in the middle is a happy medium. It’s what each aspiring writer should hope to achieve - not talking down to your reader but not filling the page with seldom used only a word connoisseur could possibly understand.
Remember, reading for most people is escapism. Enjoyment. World building. Most readers of modern day fiction want to curl up with a good book that sucks them into the story emotionally. A place they can forget about sick kids, past due bills, stressful work days and aching bodies for just an hour or two.
If you can do that, you’ve chosen the right words.
Do you ever people watch? I often find myself staring at people while I'm in line at the grocery store. I'm not trying to be rude, just studying their mannerisms. As small as my city is, we have a wide variety of people, from the uber rich to the uber desolate, from city folk to real honest to goodness cowboys (although most of them are just farmers). Latinos, Indians, Asians . . . we even have a few people from New Zealand, Australia Germany and Scotland. As diverse as we are the fact that we all live in the Mid-west seems to unite us in some sort of odd way. It's evident through our mannerisms, our speech, our driving, our eye-contact, our farmer's tans.
While I was in Mississippi my cousin said, "I don't know if you noticed, but things are different down here."
Yeah, I noticed all right. I noticed the moment we crossed the Missouri/Arkansas line. As laid back as the majority of people I came across seemed to be, their words sure did run together. The poor kid at Wendy's in Conway, Arkansas probably assumed English wasn't my first language. I didn't want to tell him my English was just fine, it was his Arkansaian I didn't understand. I order a half Baja salad, what did I need a par for? He was quite cute for a young kid dealing with my non-Arkansaian dialect. The way his brows knit together in confusion, and the way his lip did that Elvis-curl when I finally understood that he meant pair.
But wait. It gets better. Jackson, Mississippi. "What? Yawannobun?" Translation- "What? You want no bun?" I heard that three different times from three different crew member. But it wasn't so much the speech that was comical as it was their body language to my strange order. You see I have Celiac. We were on a fast trip to Mississippi and Mom wanted Arby's. Who goes to Arby's and orders a Bacon Beef Cheddar cheese melt without the bun? You would have thought I had asked them to shave the beef directly from the cow's rump and have it sent to the moon. I thought the one gentleman was going to fall to the floor in hysterics. The entire Arby's crew actually shook their heads. It was hilarious. I'm sure I'll be the talk of that particular Arby's for some time to come.
When we went to The Waffle House my mother and I actually had to ask my uncle how to order the kind of eggs we wanted just to make sure we didn't get them raw. To my uncle's credit, I don't think he batted an eye.
The trip was short but I gained a lot from watching the people I encountered. I'm sure bits and pieces of them will end up in my stories. Do you think it would be odd to write a dedication to an Arby's crew? ;) Yeah, I know, they'd probably never see it.
One thing I realized while I was in the South is that I could never write a Southern romance. The culture is too different. The other thing I realized is that I tend to stand back and watched. The people I watched on my trip I actually had interactions with. I was a participant. I think taking an active part has somehow branded their mannerisms, from the shrug of shoulders to the twist of lips, in my mind.
Are you an active participant in people watching, or do you tend to stay in the shadows?
It's time for my annual visit to the eye doctor, and this year it's desperately needed. For the last week I have suffered from eye strain headaches. Every time I try to work on my computer or read or drive, I end up with a headache that doesn't go away until I go to bed. I have to work my paying job today so I am trying to write my blog without my glasses so I don't start my shift with a massive headache. Since none of my prescriptions seem to work, I have taken off my glasses and pulled the screen up to my nose.
For a writer, eyesight is very important. We have to be able to see trees, rocks, colors, and people so we can describe these things to our readers. We talk about her chestnut hair, his hard emerald eyes, the heroine's favorite tree that looks like a crooked and bent old crone. What we see feeds our imagination, and helps us build our stories. In poetry, sometime the way the poem looks on the page is as important as the words that make up each line. A writer's description of setting and characters starts out in the visual. Adding other senses creates depth. But first, we try to see things the way our heroes and heroines see things to help our readers get to know them. So open your eyes, and take note of what you see.
Write From the Heart
Thanks so much for having me here, ladies!
I’d planned to talk to you all about my first sale, but since I’m so excited about my second book, Coming Home, which is just about to be released, I can’t resist talking about it!
But first …
In Sunshine or in Shadow was my first published novel, but even before I finished it, I knew it would have a sequel. Two sequels, actually. It was in the middle of a scene in which the hero, Rory O’Brien, brings his young daughter, Katie, to the cottage where he spent the first ten years of his life. Katie tells Rory how much she loves being in Ireland, and he says they’re going to stay, but that someday she may want to return to Ireland to visit her mother’s family. As soon as I wrote that, I knew I had to write a story for Katie.
I also knew I had to write a story for Katie’s stepsister, Ashleen.
I must confess I was torn. Since Katie is older, I felt obligated to write her story first. But Ireland continued to hold my heart in her hands. And then a dashing hero of the American Civil War tapped me gently on the shoulder. With his dark hair, brooding eyes, and mysterious past, he whispered “Tell my story. Bring me home. Help me find my past and my future.”
How could I resist?
One of the first things I learned about writing – even before I sold my first novel – was to write from the heart. Write the story you have to write, the story that taps your consciousness and demands that you write it. The story that grabs you by the heart and won’t let you go. The characters who whisper to you in the wee hours of the night, urging you to tell their story – or telling it to you themselves.
When that happens to me, I know I’m telling the right story. I know I’m following my heart’s path.
Coming Home is truly one of those books of my heart. It’s about fathers and daughters and the special bond they have. And it’s dedicated to my late father, a man who was as protective of me as Rory O’Brien is of Ashleen. Here’s a sneak peek:
Daughter of an Irish village girl, step-daughter of the landlord, Ashleen O’Brien has lived between two very different worlds. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.
War and betrayal have taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade at Antietam, he’s searching for the family he never knew.
Love and deception await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.
Read an Excerpt Here!
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17th Century “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.
My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.
A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, set in post-Famine Ireland, is available from Highland Press. Its sequel, Coming Home, will be released by Highland Press in March, 2011.
I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.
Thanks so much for having me as a guest on the New Kids on the Writers Block blog!
Thanks for being with us, Cynthia!! Love to host fellow Celtophiles!
~ Rebecca Lynn
I told a story the other day at work about the birth of my middle child, my son. My sister-in-law and I were pregnant together. Come January 7, 1998, I went into the hospital in labor. I was 7 days late. After visiting me, my brother and his wife went home, only to come back to the hospital. She was in labor and she was 7 days early. I gave birth that day to my son. 7 hours and 16 mins. later, my sister-in-law gave birth to a son. They were born on my sister Beth's birthday. Also, there are 7 people in our family with 7 in their birthdays.
Was this fate?
I like to think that because of all of the 7's surrounding their birth, that there is something special in store for them. 7 is a special number. You find it mentioned in the Bible and in the Native American lore, 7 is lucky.
We should have bought a lucky 7 lottery ticket the night the boys were born, but didn't think of it then. On their 7th birthday, my sister-in-law and I went at 7 pm to buy a lucky 7 lottery ticket, but we didn't win anything. Oh well.
These are things we can never foretell in our futures. Some believe in fate and some think that we make our own destinies. I think there is a little bit of both. You never know what life has in store but what we do with it is up to us.
When we are writing, we create the fate that lands upon our characters. It is up to us to decide what happens to our characters and how they will handle it.
Are the H/H fated for each other? Is it in the stars for the hero to become a knight when he is not of a royal line? If a heroine travels back in time, is that her fate or is she just in the wrong place at the wrong time?
I think people want to believe in fate. To believe that there is a bigger plan in the world that will affect our lives.
What do you think? Do you believe in fate?
Please welcome, LINDI PETERSON!
Hi, Lindi! So... how does it feel to be a debut author?
It’s pretty unbelievable. I’ve been writing for 12 years before getting that contract, so it’s like a dream come true.
How did you get "The Call"?
Actually I received an email, which was how I needed to find out, I’ve determined. God knows what He’s doing, that’s for sure. I put my head on my desk and cried for about 20 minutes. I still remember the feeling.
Tell us a little bit about your new release.
It’s the first first person book I wrote. I found I really enjoyed writing in first person. I received a lot of great feedback and figured out first person was my voice.
Where did you get the idea to write this book?
I had just read a couple of first person books that I loved. I really thought I couldn’t write one, but I sat at my computer and thought I would give it a try. My first idea was about three friends, 2 girls and a guy and my heroine would watch her best friends fall in love then realize she was in love with the guy. But then I wanted to change it up, so I have her watching the best friends fall in love, but I brought in a very special guy for my heroine.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever gotten?
To write. I mean sit down, even when you don’t feel like it and put words on the page. You can’t edit something that’s not written.
What advice do you have for new or aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Don’t stop working for your dream.
What's your favorite food?
Gosh, girl. This is tough. Would you think me crazy if I said mac and cheese? I love it. I also love potatoes, and pasta.
I wouldn't think you were crazy at all! A good mac and cheese is hard to beat. So, what's the best meal you've ever had?
I've had a lot of great meals. I also have a lot of men in my family that can cook. My son, my sons in laws. They are all great cooks. I’ll say recently my son made a cheese and leek bread pudding that was out of this world.
Best cooking show on the planet?
That was a trick question. I knew she was going to say that. :) Lindi and I met at RWA last year and quickly got into a show about how much we love Top Chef. And most of our emails either revolve around "when can I read your book already" OR "how awesome is Tom Colicchio?" :) But without further ado, let's get her book out there so you can look at it! Click on the picture/link to the left and you can see all about the book. Let us know if you check out the book. Can't wait to read it!
That’s me. Or should I say that's my new pen name for a series of Paranormal Erotica novellas currently in progress. This will be a learning experience since it’s my first foray into the erotica genre. A published author once told me she had more fans and recognition for her erotica under a pen name than she did for the romantic suspense she writes. Her advice was to go for it. So I am.
RWA’s PRO class/workshop this quarter focuses on building a website with Wordpress. I decided to use the opportunity to pick up a few pointers for my Alexis Thomas site, as well as my own blog, Deb Sanders. I rather like the customized template I’ve developed. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. There’s not much content other than an introductory page because it’s still under construction. http://alexisthomas.wordpress.com/
My plan is to self-publish with Smashwords and Amazon – another new experience. I’m still learning the unique formatting style required by Smashwords but I can’t imagine it would be too difficult. I’m pretty savvy on a computer. The final new twist in this “experiment” is to write my novellas in first person. So far, I’m having a blast. I may have found my “voice” but that will remain to be seen and judged by readers who happen onto my stories.
I haven’t given up on print publishing by any means. I submitted a query and synopsis this week to Harlequin Intrigue for a completed category length romantic suspense. I’m still crafting a single title Paranormal WIP. But novellas are short and fit my natural writing style so I think I can juggle all of my projects.
What is the series about? There’s a plethora of sizzling scenarios ripe with werewolves, shapeshifters, mermen, ghosts...you name it, and an ongoing thread of character growth as my heroine searches for clues to her identity. Here’s my blurb:
The Cool Rides, Hot Nights series
Paranormal novellas with an erotic twist
Kylie Baker knew at an early age she was different. It didn’t deter her from trying to fit it.
By the time she was ten, Kylie had become a chameleon – camouflaging her true nature to blend with whoever befriended her at the moment. During her teens, she did her best to stand out, even to her detriment. As she grew into her twenties, she stopped caring what anyone thought.
In two days, Kylie will celebrate her thirtieth birthday, and inherit a sizeable fortune from a trust fund. Her plan: To ride a motorcycle through each of forty eight continental states in search of a kindred spirit. Someone with unusual “gifts” like herself. Someone who can help her unlock the secret to her mysterious past.
Kylie Baker's quest will lead her down a road to self discovery...and a whole lot more.
Wish me luck! BICHOK.
Last week, I worked on revisions for one of my historical romances. I read through my cp's comments for the chapter, and read what I had written. Decided where the Chapter needed to start, and what I needed to include and exclude. I asked myself questions like, what earlier information that I'd removed should be inserted later? Would my heroine really act that way? Is this really important to the story and move it along?
The revision was moving along until I realized I was just staring out the window rather than revising. Instead of thinking about my story, I was thinking "This is hard. I have no idea what I'm doing, and will all these changes make my story better or will I edit out something of importance?" When I am writing a first draft, I do some planning and then let the writing flow. Sometimes I will stop at a crossroads and debate where I should head right or left, but quickly decide and move forward. It was easy, but this revision stuff is tough.
Deciding what goes and what stays is like deciding which of your children you kick out into the streets and which get to stay at home. You may be able to guess at how difficult this is for me because my children range in age from 27 to almost 18, and they are all still living in my house. But I have good reason for letting each of them all stay. That's what revisions are, deciding what stays and what goes, and having a good reason for each decision, and hope that when you're done you did what was best for the story. Which is more difficult for you, Writing or Revising?
- ► 2012 (84)
- My Journey to Becoming a Writer ~ The Short Versio...
- Kindred souls
- Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…
- Them Ghostly Rules
- Newest New Kid
- When to take advice and when not to.
- Another Rejection...So Why Am I Smiling?
- 'Tis the Contest Season
- Author Spotlight: Aron White (Doing What You Can W...
- Five secrets to making a writer’s conference work ...
- When Does A Rose Smell Like An Orchid?
- People Watching
- The Eyes Have It
- Guest Author: Cynthia Owens
- Is it Fate?
- Debut Author: Lindi Peterson
- Drumroll Please…While I Introduce My Alter Ego
- Revisions and Rewrites
- Deadly Notions Author - Elizabeth Lynn Casey
- ▼ Apr (20)
- ► 2010 (333)
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