Sunday, September 30, 2007

Writing Spaces

I used to write in the dining room. It was open, airy, had wood floors two huge windows, and I could see everything that was going on in the kitchen and living room. I happily thought this was the place for me. Of course there were a few glaring problems.

The first problem I had writing in the dining room was lack privacy. I couldn’t sit down at the computer with out someone coming in to ask questions be it my husband or children, or I had to jump up and answer the door, or phone, to clean up something the cat threw up on, prevent a fight, or to finish dinner. Second, I had no bookshelves. I’d like to say that didn’t deter me, but honestly, sometimes I just figured I could get by without it…especially after five trips already to the room that did have the book shelves. Granted, bookshelves for the dining room are on the “list of to-do” but as you know, it should be called the “list that never will get done”.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it. There was a smaller room, with a window, painted a dark blue with a teal rug (it came with the house-not my choice believe me), but it had two walls of bookshelves, a ceiling fan—and most gloriously a DOOR. It took me a week after coming home from work and all of Sunday (today) to do it, but I moved in. I removed all the books that I didn’t want (you know things like bike remodeling, the pathology of yawning etc) and put all the ones I needed like “Writing the Break Out Novel” by Donald Maass. I have now shut the door and am writing this.

Bliss.

I should have done this a long time ago, but the wood floors and large room enamored me. Now I am in a cozy room, and I feel so much more focused and it is quiet. Well, this is all well and good, now let’s see if I can really get some work done….

I know there have been workshops on creating your own writing space. But, what have you done to create your own space? Where do you feel the most comfortable? I’d like to know.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My First Panic Free Conference

I'm headed to Atlanta in a couple of hours for my first Moonlight and Magnolia conference. This will be the first conference I've attended that I didn't have a scheduled appointment with an agent or editor. For many people, pitching their work is easy and painless. I'm not one of those people. In previous conferences, much of my time was spent reviewing and practicing my pitch. By the time of the appointment, I should have been ready, but instead always found myself floundering. My last agent appointment netted me my dream agent, but I promise you, it wasn't from my smooth pitch. She was kind enough to ask questions and I actually had answers.

So I plan to thoroughly enjoy myself, learn from some amazing writers and experts, spend time with friends, make new friends and cheer for some of my favorite authors at the Maggies.

What about you? What do you enjoy most when you go to a conference? What do you look forward to and what do you dread?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Premiere Week!











Between the hours
I'm working and
this week's premieres,
I haven't been very
productive. I promise
to have a good blog
next time. For now
I'm giving you some
new eye candy.








Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Romance Readers' Luncheon

Five days left before prices go up.


***Permission granted to forward***

Come and join us at the Homewood Public Library on November 3, 2007,
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Birmingham, Alabama

Southern Magic presents NYT best selling Sherrilyn Kenyon
and welcome speaker multi-published Debra Webb

Over twenty romance authors will be in attendance along with
Linda Howard, Janice Lynn, Kathleen Long, Kelly St. John and Peggy Webb.
To see the complete list go to http://www.southernmagic.org/luncheon.html .

Door prizes!!
Be prepared to purchase raffles for chances at baskets loaded with books
along with the popular Get Your Name In a Book!

A Book Signing (open to the public) will follow the luncheon.
Registration: $25 Until September 30, 2007 ($20 for S-M Members)
$30 October 1 to 27, 2007 ($25 for S-M Members)
Please Print

Name____________________________________________

Address____________________________________________

____________________________________________________

Phone Number______________________________________

Email Address______________________________________

Make checks payable to: Southern Magic
Return this page with your payment to:
Southern Magic Luncheon Registration
113 Sutton Circle
Birmingham, AL 35242

http://www.southernmagic.org/

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Great Big Piece of Gray Dough

I'm having a love-hate relationship with my manuscript, and right now, it's all hate. This is a ms I started about five years ago and subsequently abandoned. So when I pulled it out last year, I knew it would take some revisions to freshen it up.

To help me decide what kind of revisions I needed, I entered it in some contests. Surprisingly, it finaled in several contests. But no requests from editors.

Over the weekend, I read an article about pacing. Ah-ha! I said. That's it! That's what's holding me back. All the things that slow pacing-- long sentences, big blocks of narrative paragraphs, characters doing boring activities--(the list goes on)--pretty much includes everything I have in this ms. Long sentences? My specialty. Narrative blocks? I love getting inside my characters' heads and thinking with them.

So yesterday, I started full-scale revisions. And now, the ms is a mess. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mom made biscuits. She would give me a bit of dough to play with. I would work that dough with my grimy child's hands until it turned into a dried-out gray lump.

And that's exactly what my manuscript looks like. There's nothing fresh about it. Each word, each phrase, each sentence, each paragraph is forced and overworked and reads like a dried-out gray lump.

My mom always made me throw out the piece of gray dough.

I guess the good thing about the ms is that I can go back to the way it was. It may never get requested by an editor, but at least it won't be gray any more.

Overcoming Writer's Block and Other Obstacles

Southern Magic is pleased to host an on-line workshop with Genie Davis. OVERCOMING WRITER'S BLOCK AND OTHER OBSTACLES.

Description: Coming up with a viable idea for a book can be a project in itself. Then you have to pitch and sett it -- that's another project. And somewhere in there you need to write the book! Genie will tell us how to stay fresh through all of this -- and write on deadline.

When: October 1 through 12, 2007
Cost: $10 for Southern Magic Members, $15 for All Others

Class Advisors
::Genie Davis a.k.a. Nikki Alton A produced screen and television writer, Genie Davis’s work spans a variety of genres from supernatural thriller to romantic drama, family, teen, and comedy. She’s worked on projects with companies as diverse as Smith-Hemion Productions, Wild at Heart Films, Craven/Maddalena Films, and Craig Anderson Productions. She’s written on staff for ABC-TV’s Port Charles; written, produced, and directed reality programming and documentaries for The Learning Channel, PBS, and HGTV, as well as numerous television commercials and corporate videos. She’s directed such notable corporate films as "Santa Goes Shopping at Frederick’s of Hollywood’ and "Let’s Watch the Big Metal Machine Parts go Up and Down for Twenty Mintues While the Boring Guy Says Stuff." Most current books, The Model Man and Five O’Clock Shadow written as Genie Davis and a novella "Rodeo Man" written as Nikki Alton.


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Registration deadline is September 30 via PayPal/credit card; September 23 via check.

The class is conducted through a YAHOO group format and you will receive an invitation to join at the time you pay.

For more information, please check out our website at www.southernmagic.org and click on the WORKSHOP icon.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Show and Tell

Today I really enjoyed the meeting with Deb. She was GREAT! I did have one question I really wanted to ask her but really didn't want to look like a goober so I'll ask the group instead.

This is a question that has bugged me for a long time. How do you show and not tell? Are there any articles out there on the subject?

Thanks,
Barb :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Living the dream

Now that she has sold her first THREE books, Christy Reece e-mails me once a week with a list of questions about becoming a happy, well-adjusted newly published author. I always answer, “Why the heck are you asking ME?”

Here for Christy and the rest of you is a list of steps to living the dream.

1. When your book receives a good review, that’s because the reviewers really know what they’re talking about.

2. When your book receives a bad review, no one pays any attention to that rag anyway.

3. When you win a contest, this is just one more indication that you are a terrific writer.

4. When you don’t win a contest, it means nothing because contests are so subjective.

5. When your book sells well...now you KNOW you’re a terrific writer.

6. When your book doesn’t sell well, you are not lowering your standards to appeal to popular tastes.

7. When your editor buys your next book, you’re on a roll, baby!

8. When your editor refuses your next book, that’s because you are so creative that you are ahead of the curve. Someday...SOMEDAY, perhaps long after you are gone, the world will appreciate your art.

9. When your mother loves your book, she knows best.

10. When your mother hates your book, she has Issues.

Just kidding, Mom! I meant mothers in general. I was going for the punchline. Ba-dump-bump. *cymbal crash* (My mom reads this blog.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Fair is in Town

The Ferris wheel and merry-go-round travel but get nowhere.
Cows and pigs are judged and the more they weigh the better.
(If only that were true in life for us.)
The midway rings with enjoyment and loud music.
Aunt Addie and Aunt Deanie enter their homemade jam and pickles.
Yes, the county fair has come to town.

My husband and I are odd. We're not interested in the rides or entertainments. At the Montgomery fair they had a circus which was enjoyable. We mainly go to look at the exhibits and the food. Yum, I can almost taste the funnel cake, cotton candy, and candied apples now. It's a great place to people watch.

What do you enjoy about the fair?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Waste of My Time....

I wasted my time and money yesterday, by going to the movies. Normally, I don’t say that, because I do not go often and usually I find exceptional movies to watch (like “300”). Unfortunately, my love of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal brought me to a movie—Dragon Wars.

Now, if you think of it, Dragons are interesting creatures, throw in War and you have a potential for a thrilling movie much like Lord of the Rings (at least, that is what I was hoping for.). What I got was Power Rangers with better graphics, horrible acting, even worse editing, and a confusion of scenes with no point. So basically—I wasted my time.

As a struggling somewhat new writer, there are many things I use to encourage and motivate my creative side. If I am having a hard time with writing a scene involving a relationship perhaps I’ll watch something like “Ever After” or “Practical Magic” Ok, you see what I mean? I love those types of stories! Even “Good Will Hunting” is a very good one to show character development, motivation, etc. (and has a very good “black moment!”) I use Good Will Hunting, because I am in a class that is using it as a base…and it works!

What do you use to motivate? What have you done lately that has been a detriment to your writing, when you meant for it to be positive? How do you change it into something positive? As writers we all have our own ways of dealing with getting ourselves motivated and I am interested in what you have to say.

Now, I have to get back to my manuscript…I have a few characters who are suspiciously trying to turn into Power Rangers, and that has got to be stopped…..

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Found My Voice, Then Developed Laryngitis

I know that writing takes practice. That you can't just one day decide you're going to write a book, write it and then right after you type 'the end', you've got a publisher dying to buy it. Okay, this has probably happened to someone, but for most of us, it takes years of practice.

When I first started writing, I tried to be a certain way. Write a certain way? No, be a certain way. My hero and heroine were perfect. My villain had no redeeming value, and I had so many characters with their own point of view, even I got confused. I wanted my characters to be a certain way, so I forced them into boring stereotypes. And it showed. After a while, thanks to conferences, workshops, chapter meetings and talking to and learning from many talented writers, I learned to loosen up, let my inhibitions go and just write the story.

I wrote two books this way and thought I'd found my niche, my voice. That indefinable, vague but oh so important thing that defines 'me' and what I write and how I write it. I've heard good definitions for what 'voice' is, but can't think of one at the moment. But however it's defined, I thought I'd found mine.

Last year, I went through some sort of transformation. I didn't know it at the time. I just knew I couldn't write. Nothing came. I'd sit at my computer and get so frustrated and angry for not being able to put anything on a page. I was seriously questioning if I would write again.

Then, something sparked my imagination and I sat down and wrote three chapters. Problem was, I couldn't figure out what was happening. It was so different than my usual style, I thought I might be writing a historical. That surprised me. I don't write historicals. I love them, but I can't write them. So what did I do? I stopped of course, completely frozen in fear.

In January, I took two online courses that not only inspired me, they freed something in me. I began writing again. I went back to the story that had scared me, figured out what was happening in it and wrote the book. Turned out not to be a historical, after all. Odd, huh?

So what does this have to do with voice? Everything! The other day, I went back to one of my old books for some reason, can't remember why. It's always been my favorite. I read a few pages of it and realized it doesn't sound anything like my new voice. I was stunned. What had happened? Where did my old voice go? Will it come back? Actually, I hope not, because I like my new one.

I never expected this kind of change in my writing. I'm not saying it's better or worse, but it is totally different.

What about you? Have you found your 'voice'? Has your voice changed over the years? For those who write in different genres, do you have a different voice for each? Oh, and have you ever had literary laryngitis? How did you get over it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Girly-man! Hear Me Now and Believe Me Later!

Yes, I loved Hans and Franz on Saturday Night Live. So funny, especially when The Arnold came on the show. Anyway, what I want to talk about is the growth of our characters.

As most of us know, each major player in our book must grow in some way before we can type THE END. We can show their growth several ways. Yes. You’re right. Another list from Carla. I’ve been a good girl for a while and it’s that time again.

1) By learning to love. That one is used more often for the male characters than for females. The character could be nursing a broken heart caused by a minor character or the other major player in the story. Maybe her childhood was horrible or someone in his life had a tragic accident and he refused to try to love again.

One of my favorite books, SARA’S CHILD by Linda Howard, has a hero whose wife and children died in a car accident. He struggles not to love his dead wife’s best friend. When they marry and she becomes pregnant, he refuses to acknowledge the child. I cried and cried the first time I read that book. Of course, it has the HEA. That’s why it’s a keeper.

2) By learning to trust. Another great one for romance. Often this is used with number one. The character’s betrayed by a mother, father, best friend, or past love. Money stolen, left for dead, or that broken heart.

I’m sure if I thought about it hard enough I could think of several books, but what comes to mind is Mel Gibson’s PAYBACK. Hard to believe, but it has a romance. Mel’s character, Porter, is betrayed by his wife and best friend, left for dead. I won’t say more, but I can promise you won’t be disappointed. I found on the internet a new re-cut verison is out. I’m not sure about that one. Just in case, get the original verison and check it out. Mel plays an anti-hero, so watch out, the story is violent.

3) By redemption. A character has realized the errors of his ways. Authors often use amnesia for this growth as they’re afraid the reader can’t believe a bad person can make a 180 degree change. I believe they can. Ask me about it sometime. Historicals like amnesia victims too. I see redemption used in paranormals a lot.

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books use redemption beautifully for her "Mad, Bad, and Immortal" heroes. Who doesn't love a man who has fences to mend and is willing to do it.

4) By plain ol’ learning. This is where the character seeks vengeance against another character. But maybe love (see number one) or the truth is revealed and changes the character’s direction, helping him grow.

I know I’ve read several books like this since Johanna Lindsey’s PRISONER OF MY DESIRE, but none come to mind. So Johanna’s heroine forces the hero to have sex with her (yep, forced a man) and later he takes revenge by forcing the same on her. Of course he makes her want it first. Oddly, in this one, what’s good for the goose, isn’t good for the gander.

Okay, now for the questions, what other character growth have you seen in books or movies? What are some of your favorite books or moveis that represent the ones above?


In closing, as Hans said, "Sorry, Mr. Girly-Man, but here's a treat for your girlfriend!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gargoyles, Shifters, Succubus and More with Tina Gerow

**PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED AND ENCOURAGED**

Southern Magic is pleased to host an on-line workshop with Tina Gerow. Gargoyles, Shifters, Succubus and More: WRITING BELIEVABLE NON-HUMANS.

Description: Vamps, shifters and the rest of the gang aren't just humans with fangs or fur. If their species isn't an integral part of their character, your reader will not suspend disbelief long enough to fall in love with them. Learn how to build these characters from the inside out.

When: September 24 through October 5
Cost: $10 for Southern Magic Members, $15 for All Others

Class Advisor::Tina Gerow a.k.a. Cassie Ryan has always had a passion for romance and anything paranormal. And even in school, was encouraged to put her writing skills to good use but always with the admonishment to "stop writing the weird stuff and tone down the sarcasm." But what fun it that?! So, in 2003, she finally decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but still firmly embracing the "weird stuff and the sarcasm." Tina, an Arizona State University alumnus, belongs to the Romance Writers of America, and is is a past President of the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Chapter. She lives in Arizona with her husband, son and two orange tabby cats. Current release is Ceremony of Seduction writing as Cassie Ryan.

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Registration deadline is September 21 via PayPal/credit card; September 14 via check.

The class is conducted through a YAHOO group format and you will receive an invitation to join at the time you pay.

For more information, please check out our website at http://www.southernmagic.org/ and click on the WORKSHOP icon.

Anybody Got a Life Preserver?

Yesterday was one of those days. "Life" swamped me and tossed me into the water without my water wings.

As I was dealing with one small crisis after another, I found myself longing for the weirdest thing: rain. I kept thinking "If only it would rain, I could handle all this!"

I finally figured out that wishing for rain was psychological shorthand for a cup of tea; a chilly, damp afternoon all to myself; and a good book. Even though the chances of that wish coming true are pretty slim, just figuring it out gave me a little moment of pleasure.

What do you do to chill out when your stress level rises?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Death of the disco balls

I hear there was a wonderful presentation at the Heart of Dixie meeting yesterday on marketing yourself on the internet. I've got the web on the brain this morning because I'm in the middle of composing Southern Magic's online newsletter, and I just finished redesigning my own website. Take a look here and tell me what you think.

My previous site was wallpapered with hot pink disco balls that matched the cheerfulness of my covers. But my teen book coming out in early 2009, though funny, is much darker. I also hope to sell an adult romantic comedy soon. So I wanted a site design that could reflect all those genres.

Post your web address here and tell us how your website reflects what you write. And if you went to the HOD meeting, what did you learn?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Confession Time!

At the last SM meeting I confessed that I acted like such a geek when Linda Howard sent me an email saying she will be attending the luncheon. I believe my exact words were "I opened my email and was like Linda Howard sent me an email!!!""

I promise I'm not as bad when I speak with her face to face...now. I know, I'm such a geek but, come on, it's Linda freakin' Howard!

Ok...now it's your turn...

Think of all the authors you love and have met. Were you calm, cool and collective in person but your mind was going OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!?? Come on...fess up...

Barb

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'd Rather Be Boiled in Oil

No, I'm not getting kinky or sadistic. I have no one to blame but myself. I volunteered. I guess I'm crazy.

On Saturday, September 8, my other local chapter, the Heart of Dixie, is having a full-day workshop. I volunteered to talk about writing the inspirational romance. Yes, I've written one and have the starts of two more. My complete is still under consideration at Steeple Hill. Yet, right now, I'm feeling as unqualified as if I was speaking on brain surgery or rocket science.

I spent my Labor Day fine tuning. Trying not to repeat myself. My head is spinning.

Have you ever volunteered for something you'd rather not do? Why? How did you get through it?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What Captures You?

Lately, my reading has been a tad eclectic. I bounce around from adult fiction to young adult in my quest for "the story". You, know the one that you keep pouring through books to find. The story that has you reading late and sneaking moments at work, just to 'get a few more pages'.

Oh, I get a lot of interesting reads, but what actually captures me? Is it a character? A scene? Action filled? For me, its a combination of things. I want a strong protagonist and antagonist. I want thrills, but emotion. I want quirky, but a strong sense of the character, goals, and conflict.

Recently (truthfully, it was months ago) I read a book by Anne Bishop, called Sebastian. What I remember now, is the world she created. One so interesting and odd that I still think about it. She had "landscapes" that responded to the heart desires and emotions of it's inhabitants...sounds weird, but she was successful at planting that thought in my head. That is what I look for...what I remember.

What do you remember in the books you read? When you write, what do you want your reader to see, feel, and take with them when they read your books or stories? For me, I just want you turning the page...what's going to happen next.....