Monday, January 26, 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
Lord Stanhope reached down between them and through the ivory fabric of her satin skirts, wrapped his hard hand about the upper portion of her leg, effectively stilling her moments.
Anne’s breath froze and she looked at him.
Be still, he mouthed.
Her throat convulsed. Odd, they were just fingers on just a hand, so very uninteresting, something possessed by everyone. And yet, her skin thrummed with awareness of his touch. She swallowed again. There was nothing uninteresting about his fingers upon her person.
“Stop tapping your foot,” he whispered against her temple. His words had the same affect of a bucket of water being tossed over her foolish head.
“She’s not going to hear my foot,” she shot back. “It is more likely she’ll hear your constant haranguing.”
He closed his eyes and his lips moved as if he were uttering a silent prayer. Which was peculiar, because she’d not ever taken him as the religious sort.
“Lord Stanhope?” the woman called again, impatience coating her words.
Anne sighed. She’d had this all planned out. She’d speak to the earl. Enlist his help and be gone before his trysting partner had arrived. That had been the plan. Then again, a lifetime of scrapes that had gone awry should have prepared her for how this evening would likely turn out. “Oh, for goodness sake, will she not go already?” she muttered. “Whyever is she so insistent on seeing y—”
The earl cursed under his breath. “For the love of all that is holy.” And then, he kissed her. Hard.
My heroes have always been writers. Actually, my very first hero was my Dad and then John Wayne, but from the time I read Pride and Prejudice I've always seen writers as heroes. The written word is a living, breathing thing with amazing power, mystical forms and endless twists and turns. Wrestling it into submission, let alone into a book people want to read, is like riding a bull on PCP in five o' clock traffic in Atlanta. Anyone who can conquer that is a hero to me.
Over seven years ago, when I took up my pen again, so to speak, and decided I wanted to be a writer; I found out exactly how daunting this journey can be. It was scary then and it has grown increasingly scary every year. Agents can help or hurt you. Publishers want to sign you, but only if you can make them lots of money. Editors can crush you with a single e-mail. Indie publishing means you do everything AND deal with all the aforementioned craziness as well. Your career can become road kill before you ever even realize you've the left the side of the road. It's like being a character in Game of Thrones. Tick off George R.R. Martin and you are either axe fodder or dragon meat. Well. Done. Dragon meat. So anyone who hangs in there and keeps at it through all of that is definitely hero material.
I whine about working at Walmart and trying to pursue a career as a writer. I hate my job. I have filmed various episodes of SNAPPED in my head featuring me, our store manager, a walk in freezer and large knives. He does NOT fare well. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) It would be easy for me to simply lay down and quit. But I can't. You see, I have some pretty damned heroic writers in my life. They make my day job look like a cake walk. They've overcome incredible odds in pursuit of their writing dreams. And they've dragged me along with them, because I'm too damned ashamed to quit when I look at the example they've set.
I'd like to introduce you to one of my heroes. Meet Christi Caldwell. This is her official bio.
Christi Caldwell is the USA Today Bestselling author of historical romance novels set in the Regency era. Christi blames Judith McNaught’s “Whitney, My Love,” for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and try her hand at writing romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections and rather enjoys tormenting them before crafting a well-deserved happily ever after!
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Those spaces I can’t do anything about because they contain my hubby’s stuff, by and large. But there are areas where I do have control (cue the “bwahaha” laughter)!
Yesterday I decided to do something about the stashed clothing I’ve ignored for years. After all, not only have I (sadly) put on weight but I’ve also stopped working full time in a professional environment, now that I’m an author. Thus, my closet was crammed with clothes, maybe half of which actually fit or would ever be worn by me again.
Sorting through my walk-in closet, and then a separate closet upstairs, took about two hours total over two days (I had to write, after all!) and the entire time I was choosing what to keep, what to donate, what to sell based on several factors: age; wear; fit; and taste. I sold two items to a consignment store, but most of my clothes were of a style “too old” for the store. So, the vast majority ended up at Goodwill this afternoon. As I drove home, about thirty pounds lighter in clothing, it occurred to me that I never really needed most of those clothes. Some, sure. The suits for work, come to mind. But the dresses? I rarely wear a dress. Not that I don’t ever, but it’s seldom. Yet, I donated not just one fancy dress, but eight. Obviously I need to make wiser choices with my wallet.
I even include a stuffed attic in my debut novel, Traces (Ghosts of Roseville Book 1). Meredith Reed inherits the old plantation house complete with a junked up attic filled with boxes and toys and bags and what-not that she ends up having to sort through to make sense of.
All this got me thinking about material culture. I love research so spent some time reading up on the status of the study of material culture and what it means. (If you’re interested you can visit Cliffs Notes: Culture and Societies or the American Folklife Center: Material Culture to learn more about what this term means.) In short, I think of it as the American penchant for consumerism. For things. Stuff. And how it reflects our culture. Who we are and what our stuff says about us.
(Disclaimer: I like to ponder causes and effects in culture, though I am by no means a historian or archeologist so take what I have to say with several large grains of salt. I ponder the changes in desires, in how much we each crave to surround ourselves with items important or whimsical or necessary, and in how much we’re willing to spend on things for ourselves or others.)
When I visited Mount Vernon last year, I remembered that they didn’t even build in closets in the typical 18th century or earlier houses. (Note: The Washingtons did set aside a small room as a literal “china closet”, but then they had dozens of place settings and serving pieces to store.) Without closets, folks used a piece of furniture called a wardrobe to put their clothes in, or a row of hooks/posts on the wall to hang them on. In fact, in the 1900s farmhouse I grew up in, my parents’ bedroom had two small closets with a window in between. My dad actually mounted a pole between the closets so my mother could hang more clothes. Such a visual reminder of the differences in expectations of the extent and purpose of a wardrobe of clothes even during my life time, let alone over centuries.
Of course, in the western world, we’re bombarded with requests and demands to spend money on stuff. Just think of how many ads you’ve seen for gadgets for the kitchen, when most Americans apparently eat out more than in. (I’m not among that number; I love to cook!) Why do you need a special gadget to chop an onion? A knife works really well, and has for centuries. And it takes little space. What does all the stuff surrounding us say about who we are and what's important in our lives? (I ask this I see the R2-D2 robot my hubby got for Christmas...)
The average size of a house has steadily grown over the decades as well, as we need more closets and attic space to store all of our goodies. Run out? No problem. You can rent a storage unit, or a POD, for only dollars a month. All so you can make more room for new stuff.
I made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and get fit. Again. But also, this year I’m going to strive to help my house get fit. I'm going to try to not buy things unless I’m replacing a broken or worn out item. I’m going to strive to reduce the weight of my house by lessening the amount of dusty, unused items sitting within its walls. I have a feeling this will end up applying to my book collection, but more on the “replacing” than “reducing” side of things. At least books are easily exchanged and shared, unlike that bread machine in hiding under the cabinet…
How about you? What items in your house reflect who you are most closely? Do you have stuff that others might put to better use? What would you like to donate or sell this year?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Traces (digital so as to avoid clutter)! Be sure to also leave your email. I’ll post the winner here on Monday, January 26. Good luck!
Monday, January 19, 2015
The scary part is putting it out there. I don't care how many you write, that's always the unnerving part. And the goal isn't perfection--no book is ever turned in with no errors at all. Of course you want to send in your best, cleanest work. That's taking pride in your work and there's nothing wrong with it. But your goal should be to get as close to the story that's in your head and heart as possible. Don't worry about the editor seeing your imperfections. Just do everything in your power to get her to see the heart of the story and hear your unique voice telling it. The rest is fixed in edits.This was said in response to my valiant effort to procrastinate via proofreading. And her words made a tremendous impact on me. I submitted within the week a story I'd been "editing" for the last four months. (Should be hearing back soon--cross your fingers for me!)
-- Naima Simone
Submitting is hard.
Putting your work in front of other people is hard each and every time.
Some writers cram as many messages into bottles as they can, flinging them far from shore, confident in the the odds that one will reach a reader.
Other writers pen one short message and send it floating, trusting destiny or fate that one day someone will find it washed up in the surf.
Still other writers, cork their bottled messages and bury them in the sand, thinking one day to dig them up again, polish that message, and throw it out to sea.
I've been that last kind of writer my entire life, writing in secret, hiding my prose, polishing a piece until it falls apart in my hands, unusable. I worry that a scene doesn't conform to this stylistic idea, this editor said to use these kinds of tags, or this subgenre isn't hot right now. But really, it's just another way of procrastinating.
My words will never be perfect enough.
My words will never be so pristine an editor or agent will be blinded by them and fall at my feet begging to charter a private yacht which will take my message from one end of the ocean to the other.
But, Naima's right--editors and agents aren't looking for something perfect. They're looking for a sandy bottle that can be brushed off--the one that's not quite corked, the words on the message faded, but with the kernel of a great story inside.
So I'm writing. Look for my message bottles. They're out there and I'm working on more. It wasn't as hard to throw the bottle as I thought it would be.
AIDEE LADNIER is a writer who loves quirky characters. You can visit her website at http://www.aideeladnier.com or meet her at some of her favorite social media sites:
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Aidee Ladnier began writing fiction at 12 years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee's to write both romance and erotica with a little science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.
Friday, January 16, 2015
We have all been there. I don't claim to be an expert by an stretch of the imagination, but I have found three things really help me block writer's block before it can claim my valuable writing time:
- Leaving a writing prompt: When I finish writing for the day, I leave myself a short writing prompt for the next day about the scene I want to write. It isn't anything elaborate, just a short sentence or two summarizing the scene that should come next, including the goal, motivation and conflict for the scene. This works for me because inertia takes over, and once I start writing the scene the next day, the forward progress plows over any weeds of writer's block.
- Write or Die: The Write or Die application forces you to keep your fingers moving with a little operant conditioning. You can set how aggressively you want the program to punish you, but if you don't accomplish a certain word count in a certain amount of time, you will pay the price (anything from annoying sounds to the program eating words). I love this program because it scares you into writing. Fear is a powerful motivator.
- Playlists: I know what you are saying - Heather, making a play list is a way to procrastinate and not write. There is some truth in what you are saying, but my brain makes a connection between the songs I am listening to and what I am experiencing at the time. If I keep the play list lean and mean, it minimizes the writing time I lose putting it together and provides me with quick mental triggers to get back to the place I was when I was last writing.