Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who Do You Owe?

Who Do You Owe ?

One of the wildest real rides I ever had was in a New York City taxi from JFK Airport to downtown New York the year I did the Fulbright Auditions. In spite of seeing my life pass before my eyes several times, I was really polite. While I was thinking “Thank you, Jesus! I’ll never take a taxi in this town again!” – I actually said “What do I owe you, sir?” It isn't often I pay somebody fifty bucks to scare the life out of me.

My life has been a wild ride over the last three years or so. My life as a writer, I mean. And I got to thinking about the people along the way who made this wild ride possible. I've stood on the shoulders of giants. And they've only scared me every now and then.

I have been really lucky the last three years. It all started with a couple of chance meetings at readers’ luncheons – one in Wetumpka and one in Birmingham. At the first one I met Dianna Love-Snell. We started talking about writing and how I had always wanted to be a writer, but never really got around to it. Dianna was just so enthusiastic and inspiring. She made me start to think about the possibilities I’d put aside years ago. She made me begin to believe in a very old dream again.
The second luncheon was my first experience with Southern Magic. I met Karen Hawkins – a fun, vivacious smart lady who instead of asking why I wanted to write, asked me why I didn’t. She asked tough questions and inspired me to quit talking and start writing.

Then Tammy Lynn, former owner of The Book Basket, told me about an online writing contest sponsored by Avon Publishing. I decided to give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. I met a lot of great writers who were just like me – burning to write and not quite sure if they had the chops and persistence to try it. This event opened a whole new world to me. I had no idea there was an organization like RWA out there or that it even had a chapter as close to me as Birmingham. I owe my fellow Avon FanLit alums so much! And I actually got feedback from some of my very favorite authors! ME! Teresa Medeiros and Victoria Alexander have no idea how much their words meant to me. I owe them too.

I met my first critique partner and one of my mentors through FanLit. Sherry Leddington lives in Phoenix Arizona and we have been swapping pages for three years now. She has become more than a critique partner. She’s also a friend. I joined a group of fellow FanLit writers in a critique group – Erin, Gillian, Terry Jo and Marianne and they have made a real difference in my writing and my ability to stick to this writing gig even when it gets hard.
I also met one of my mentors, Anna Campbell, through FanLit. Anna has advised, encouraged and supported me every step of the way. I owe her more than I can say for her wisdom, friendship, insight and her testament to persistence. She wrote for thirteen years before she was published.

I owe my other mentor, Diane Gaston, for never failing to be excited about my victories along the way and for holding my hand via the telephone when I had NO CLUE what to do next. She critiqued my first Golden Heart manuscript and more important she has helped me to make smart decisions about the practical side of this business.
I owe my Southern Magic sisters for their friendship and cheer leading. For all of the knowledge and love or romance they have shared with me. I am truly proud to be a member of this talented and classy group.

There are online communities to whom I owe much – the Risky Regencies, the History Hoydens, the Romance Bandits, the Wet Noodle Posse, the Goddess Blogs, the Writing Sluts, The Beau Monde and the Kiss of Death chapters of RWA. I owe RWA for being a source of information and support along this journey. I owe the 2008 Golden Heart Finalists – the Pixie Chicks – for being some of the classiest, most talented and most giving women it has been my privilege to know.

I owe my buddy, Gaill Wills, for being my biggest cheerleader and forcing me to enter the FanLit event with stuff I called “crap.” She’ll never let me live it down that the chapter I called the “worst crap I have ever written” ended up winning round three and was published in the e-novella These Wicked Games. I owe you big time, Gaill.

Last, but not least, I owe my critique partner, Erin, just about everything. She has been a pillar of strength and a pain in my butt. She is the smartest, most savvy and brutally honest reader my work could ever hope to have. She won’t let me get away with ANYTHING and she will stick to her guns no matter how stubborn I am. She pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. Thank God! Everything I write is better because she has looked it over with her hyper-critical, no nonsense, the romance is everything eye. Thanks, sister. I owe you. BIG TIME!

So, who do you owe? Who are the people who helped you on your writing journey? Who are the people who are still helping you and what have they done to make you a better writer?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Plotter or Pantser? Visual or Auditory?

Yesterday at our chapter meeting, Laura Hayden gave a program on plotting backwards. What I got out of this program was that this could be a valuable method of working out my plot's progression if I was stuck at a point in the story and wanted to get to a specific end result. I think it would be even more valuable for any writer who is a plotter. They could double check their plot from front to back and back to front before beginning the story and insure that everything worked.

To start, we used pictures of familiar movie stars and gave them character names from our story's plot. I was surprised at how helpful this was when considering each plot variation. It made me realize that I am more visual than auditory. It was much easier for me to look at something and grasp every nuance and turn and twist in the different scenarios.

While I don't think I will ever think my book completely through before beginning writing, I will enlist this tool if I ever get stuck and want to get my plot back on track.

Are you a plotter or pantser? Do you respond better to visual or auditory input? What do you do to try and resolve a twist in your plot?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mm-mm, Good!

Psalm 34:8 declares O taste and see that the Lord is good. The psalmist is saying we have to try--to experience--God in order to discover how really good He is. I experienced a "tasting" of my own last week. And, boy, was it good!

All around me my chapter members and critique partners have been submitting. Whether it's been to editors, agents or contests, they've been getting their work out there. Me? Well, not so much...okay, not at all. A little over a year ago, I submitted my manuscript to an editor and never heard anything back. For this particular house, a year or more isn't really unheard of, but my expectations were delivered a blow when I didn't hear back in the time frame I expected. Don't I have a lot of nerve?? But, I moved on, shoved that manuscript to the side and didn't submit again.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dust off that same story, revamp it and...that's right. Submit. At first, I dredged up every excuse why I couldn't do it. There's too much to change in such a short amount of time. I can't write a good synopsis. Derrick's drinking on Grey's Anatomy and I have to see if Meredith's going to drop him. Yeah, I stopped just short of the kitchen sink! But, I prayed on it. I wrote. Prayed. Wrote. And soon, the first three and last chapters, synopsis and cover letter were submitted to an editor.

It felt awesome! Unless you've tasted the sweetness of accomplishment and snacked on the succulence of success you're probably asking, what's the big deal? Here it is. Once you've sampled the excitement and satisfaction of pursing your dreams and stepping into purpose, your heart is stirred. You can't return to that stagnant place of watching instead of becoming . Your appetite to realize the things hoped for but not yet seen is whetted. Whether your steps are strides or leaps, you continue in the pursuit of your dream because success lies just on the other side of that "no". I'm learning that as long as I'm moving forward, never remaining still, the size of the movement doesn't matter. Small steps may take me longer to arrive at my destination...but I still arrive.

So, submitting a manuscript may seem small. But, so is a mustard seed. And look how huge the tree is that grows from such a tiny beginning!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting to Know You

Before I begin this post, I want to personally congratulate all the GH Finalists in Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie, my new writing chapters. I'm going to the National Conference and I am so excited to have people to root for and cheer on! Now, I also want to congratulate those of us who entered and didn't final. We did what we set out to do and accomplished our goal. And that is a victory in and of itself. Now smile and wave and get back to work because if we aren't writing, we have nothing to enter into contests or to try to sell.

Whew.

Now to my post: Getting to Know You... what does that mean to me? Well, it's the root of my writing. I love people. I love hearing their stories and I love finding out what makes them tick. I guess that means I am more character driven in my writing than I am plot driven (but I can plot).

The trick to getting to know people for me is to get them to talk. How do we do that with people we don't know? Especially if, like many writers, we're shy? I'm not shy. Or, I guess what I should say, is I am reformed introvert who's learned to deflect attention from myself by asking a lot of questions while at the same time divulging just enough about myself to get people to open up to me.

The stories I hear are amazing. And you can bet many of them are woven into my manuscripts. My most recent vacation yielded many stories for me. In one session by the pool, I met a grandmother watching over her two grandsons while her son and DIL were at a conference. In the course of 45 minutes, I heard about her three sons and their professions. One used to be an extreme fisherman in the Beringer Sea (have you seen that show? It's scary stuff). He finally went and got his dental degree after seeing someone die again. He was 30. Imagine the possibilities for writing a great story about this man. Her other son is a fisherman in Alaska. And he loves it. Another is disabled due to a fall but is happy and living life to the fullest. And she is a widow (her husband died just before 911) who lives on an Indian reservation in Washington State. Many stories are dancing in my head after hearing about her history.

On the way home from the Magic Kingdom, I was standing up in front of a family from Alabama. I learned a lot from them in just a ten minute ride. He's a retired high school counselor and had brought the entire clan, grandkids and all, down to Disney for the week. From him I learned what my daughter needs to do to get some scholarship money. Maybe not a novel amount of history, but useful just the same.

One time we hopped the monorail to watch a the light parade at the Magic Kingdom. We stood next to a lovely lady who was there with her mother, her husband, her grown sons and her four year old daughter. As we chatted and watched the children enjoying the show, I learned that they had come to the resorts as a last wish for her mother who has cancer. A hug, a promise to pray, and heartfelt tears were exchanged between us. Yes, we were strangers in one moment, but because we listened, in another moment we were bonded by the fragile human condition of life and death.

All of these interactions are tucked away in my mind. One day they might emerge as part of a story I am writing. That's why I write romance. Because I love people and I want to weave their stories into the fabric of mine. In that way we immortalize not only our own words, but their words as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Do You Struggle With?

I am struggling.

We all are. It is the one thing we cannot escape. Which is unfortunate, because just once I‘d like something to come easy.

No, this isn’t about the writing journey. It is about craft, the actual writing itself. Last year I made a decision to write a story that I thought I could whip out easily enough. (Are you laughing, you know what I am going to say)… Yes, what I thought I could “easily” write has turned out not so easy.

Let’s see, what happened? Plot was the first thing, than second it was the secondary characters. I managed to get a grasp on them, but I forgot the most important thing—my main character. I was so focused on having a “story” and then have secondary characters carry it along…my main character was forgotten. This is unusual, because normally my problem is reversed-I have a fully developed main character and my secondary characters need the work.

I have re-started this story at least five times. I get to page 65, and it stops working. This is where a trusted reader comes in. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am too close to the story as I write, I can’t see the forest for the trees. My friend read it and promptly pointed out, “I don’t have grasp of your heroine.” Oops.

Now what to do….I have considered scrapping the damn story. Do you know what stops me? I really like the secondary characters; I want to know what happens to them. I also hate to admit defeat, I feel like it is gesture of weakness and if I have to be honest- it is my pride that has a problem with it.

So, I am giving myself one last chance. I am not restarting, but I am making notes. To solve my main character issue, I sat down and wrote a three page description of the heroine, her background and what motivates her, and dark secrets, her strengths and weaknesses. (Silly me, I thought my few sentence description of her when I started would have helped).

My goal now is to move forward with these changes and see if this writing exercise helps. If this exercise doesn’t work, I am going to put this story aside and work on another. I have spent way too long working on this story. I have struggled mightily and learned a lot about my strengths and weakness. Still, deep down, I wish it was easier. I know, nothing worthwhile comes easy, but there are days I wouldn’t be too snippy about it flowing a bit better.

What are you struggling with as you write? Is it plot? Characters? Length? Genre? How are you overcoming this?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Process

I’ve been thinking about my writing process lately and wondering if I can change it. I can’t write different scenes and put them together later. I seriously doubt I could start at the end and work my way to the beginning. And I know I’d have difficulty writing a rough draft all the way through without rewinding a thousand times and polishing, which is my current process and always has been.

What’s your writing process and how has it changed over the years? Or are you like me and still doing it the same?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Contests, Change and Opportunity

I blogged yesterday at the I Heart Presents site about the one year anniversary of receiving the call that I’d won the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction contest. Everything in my professional life literally changed in the space of that one phone call. I went from an unpublished hopeful to an unpublished hopeful with an editor whose mission it was to guide me in the completion of a novel suitable for the Presents line.

You never know where opportunity will strike. The Instant Seduction contest was a grand opportunity, but there are other contests that provide good opportunities as well. In 2008, I was also a Golden Heart finalist, and that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I met a group of fabulous women who I know will be with me through the ups and downs of this writing life. Several of the finalists, aka the Pixie Chicks as we dubbed ourselves, sold their novels in the months leading up to and immediately after the conference in San Francisco. Opportunity knocked, and they were ready. (And I have no doubt the rest of them will sell!)

This Wednesday, those calls will go out again and some lives will change. If you don’t get the call, don’t be too upset. It took me four tries to get that GH call. There is always next year. Seriously. (Unless you sell, of course!)

Everything can change in the space of a year. On March 19, 2008, I was unpublished, unagented, and had no idea how quickly that would all change. With the Instant Seduction win and the Golden Heart final only a few days later, I had new found courage and hope that I would succeed. Today, I have two books accepted for publication, an editor who wants me to write more, and a fabulous agent that I still can’t believe wants to represent ME.

No matter what happens next week, take heart and keep hope. So long as you hold up your end of the bargain – to write, to read, to grow, to submit – I firmly believe you will get there. Opportunity will knock, maybe in the form of a contest or maybe in a pitch appointment, and you’ll be ready for the change.

And now, if you don’t mind me having a squee moment, check out my post over at IHP – there’s a sneak peek of my very first cover and blurb. I am *so* excited about it!

Are you ready for change? Are you ready to try again if you don't get that call on Wednesday?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bad Habits As Devices

One of my old favorite books was a Debbie Macomber called STARLIGHT. I had the great fortune to meet her at a Fort Lauderdale conference three years ago and told her it was my favorite of hers. She laughed and then told me it was her very first published book. We talked about how nowadays the book probably wouldn’t be published or at least not without some big changes. Why? Because the hero was legally blind and was a bastard (figuratively). But that wasn’t necessarily the reason. There were two scenes that involved the hero being under the influence of alcohol and doing things unacceptable. I can’t remember if the hero smoked--it’s been a long time since I read it--but when it was published in the 80’s, it wasn’t unusual to read a cowboy or two who did.

Have you noticed you rarely read a romance where the hero or heroine gets drunk or smokes? Sure you can probably come across one or two out of hundred or more books where the hero drinks or smokes but rarely the heroine. I admit I read more paranormal and historical than anything. So maybe that’s the reason. And I figure authors are trying to be PC and not romanticize such bad habits.

Anyway, this all came to mind because of a wonderful book I recently read, the hero smoked a cigarette whenever he was stressed out. Then I realized in all the books I’ve written, not one character drank to an excess or smoked. What a great device to use on occasion to create tension or make a point. How strange I never thought to use it. Hmmm.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

REJECTION - Or Selling Oranges in an Apple-loving World

I got my score sheets back from a recent contest in which I did NOT final and can I just say …. OUCH! I got hammered to various degrees by all three judges. Hey, I know. It happens. Not everyone is going to like what you write. I get that. This particular manuscript has done really well on the contest circuit, scoring high even when it didn’t final. So these judges’ sheets kind of stung a bit.

And it got me to thinking. In this business I believe how we handle rejection is at least as important, if not more important, than how we handle success. I’ve only been writing seriously for a little over two years. In that time I’ve received low contest scores, rejections from publishers and from agents. While it smarts each time it happens, I’ve never really considered giving up. Does that make me a grown up, a writer or a masochist? Maybe a little of all three?

I came into this endeavor with a bit of an advantage. I’ve been singing in vocal contests since I was sixteen years old. Trust me, judges in voice contests never even HEARD of the word subtle or positive reinforcement. Their job is to get people they feel are wasting their time OUT of the business. They’re really good at it too. The first couple of times I got dumped on by voice judges I was ready to quit. I even cried a few times. Then that idealist girl who just KNEW she was destined to be an opera singer would pick herself up, dust herself off and well …. you get the picture.

That attitude got me through high school and even college and graduate school. I just kept working on my craft, pushing myself and gradually the comments and criticism got better and so did I. The problem was I was a five foot nothing, ninety-three pound soprano with a voice that sounded like it should come out of a six foot heavy set woman with a horned helmet on her head, a breastplate and a big spear. They just couldn’t figure out what to do with me.

I auditioned for a number of American opera companies out of graduate school. Nobody had a spot for me. The comments ranged from “We’re not quite sure what kind of soprano you are.” to “You sound like Maria Callas on steroids.” Hint : He didn’t mean it as a compliment! Now I really wanted to quit. Years of voice lessons, college courses, and practice, practice, practice and for what? That’s when my grad school vocal coach said something that changed my life.

“You’re selling oranges to people who only want apples. You just have to find the people that want oranges. Once you do your voice will take you anywhere you want to go.”

I’ve been thinking about that bit of wisdom a lot lately. With all of my successes on the contest circuit I still don’t have an agent or an editor. I haven’t found the people who want oranges. I know they’re out there. I just need to keep looking. I don’t need to write like all of the people who are selling books like hot cakes. I don’t need to change my manuscript to suit every judge who reads it in a contest. I just need to keep telling my stories, keep working on my craft and pushing myself and believe that those orange lovers are out there somewhere waiting for me to bring the oranges.

And the music career? I sent a tape to a voice teacher at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He asked me to come to Austria to audition in person. I did and he accepted me as a student. I got a job the first time I auditioned and then a contract and the rest is history. My voice took me to Salzburg, Budapest, Amsterdam, Canterbury, and dozens of other places. Turns out Europe is full of orange lovers.

So, how about you? How do you handle rejection? Does it make you mad, sad, more determined? Do you keep your letters of rejection? Do you throw yourself a pity party and invite all of your friends? (I do this on occasion. Great for the soul.) My voice teacher also said :

Success is the best revenge.

Here’s hoping we all get to enjoy our revenge.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Take Me Back

We all know that words have power. Once spoken, they can never be taken back, but the written word also have the ability to do something more. When crafted properly, they can evoke memories of people and times from our past.

I recently read Kelley St. John's Flirting with Temptation. It had all of the heat between the hero and heroine that we have come to expect in her books, but it also did something else for me. Her delightful descriptions of her grandma and Babette's elderly coastal friends took me back to all the times that I had spent with my own grandmother and aunts. I was transported back to when they were alive and I saw myself in the heroine's place, enjoying all those shared times together. The fact that she was able to inspire those memories is a credit to her writing ability. For just a moment, I was transported back to a time when I enjoyed the warm-hearted humor of my Nana, while suffering the brunt of her mischievous nature as she did things for "my own good". She gave me unconditional love and I miss it.

Thanks, Kelley, for bringing back those fond memories while giving us a good read.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Destination I've Marked on My Map

A lot of blogs I've read lately are about the writing journey. The vehicle we're traveling in, the road we're on, and the companions we meet along the way. Naturally, that means I've been pondering and mulling and turning this notion over in my mind for a while. Because to write is to embark on a journey that requires great tenacity despite great fear about what lies ahead and around the corner every time we submit query or a manuscript or a proposal.

And according to every writer I've encountered on this long drive toward my ultimate goal--the fears never end. It doesn't matter where one is along the path. Period.

Yet we persist. And pray. And cry. And celebrate. And hide tiny pangs of "I wish that success had been mind" in the deepest parts of our being. And we continue to smile. And we plod on.

All of this talk about journeys brings my favorite inspirational quote to mind: "The object of goals is getting there... the object of dreams is the journey."

Aha! The first part is easy for me. Goal setting? Bring it on. I am typical Type A, overachiever who always has a plan and makes up all kinds of rules, deadlines, lists, and I enjoy checking each and every accomplishment off my long lists. Yup, I can set contest deadlines, page counts, and querying lists up no problem.

It's dealing with the ridiculous potholes and frightening hair pin curves while I'm hitting the pedal to the metal that threaten to blow me away. It is the enforced "rest stops" that drive me insane. It is those days where I want to get to my destination in record time when I encounter a tracker puttering ahead of me, a speed trap forcing me to slow down, oh, and by the way, you gotta rest now or you'll run out of gas completely.

After many years of pushing myself forward and putting my shoulders up under the boulders in my way and throwing them out of my path and cursing the heavens when I am thwarted, I've learned that those unwelcome detours have driven me onward toward a new destination that's ultimately much better than the one I had plotted on my map.

It's in the moments when I've been my lowest where I've been forced to reevaluate my choices that I've discovered what I'm supposed to do next. They might be big life moments like losing a baby or developing an illness that puts you in bed for weeks--or they might be small ones like root canals, minor illnesses, or silly interuptions--it doesn't matter where they come from. They've all forced me to stop, listen to the universe's small whisper, and realize that now is the time to go in a new direction.

That's how I started writing. I got sick. I was forced to stay home and quit all my activities. Me. The go-getter. The one who always is there for everyone else. I had to stop. And I was not happy about it. And after a few months, I got bored. Very, very bored. And so I whipped out an old story I had started before my daughter was a twinkle in my eye, and I finished it.

That was in 2004. It was awful. Lots of head hopping. I had no idea about word counts, page numbers, publishing guidelines, RWA, workshops, craft, GMC, PRO, Romance Writer Chapters and meetings, critique groups, and the list goes on and on and on. Five years later, I've got four books completed, a PRO pin, and a wonderful network of other writing friends I admire and enjoy knowing.

I LOVE IT. Every hair pulling, insane, amazing high and low of writing is my world. I can't stop now.

And by living through that experience, I've learned a lesson that I will always carry with me as I move forward. Whenever I hit a pothole along my road, I do mutter a curse, I admit it. How can I not? I am a type A person--see above. But then I ask myself, why is this here? Why am I being forced to sit and wait? And then I surrender to the moment. And l look around. And I discover a new wonderful view and a different way of getting there.

And the dream continues.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lesson Learned

This past weekend I attended Dianna Love and Mary Buckham's Break Into Fiction writer's retreat in Atlanta, GA. About thirty published and unpublished authors came together for two days to learn and perfect their craft. It was the first time I had traveled away from home to take part in a workshop. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I became acquainted with one of the authors when she circled the room passing out pens and business cards with her name and website printed on them. This lady was a walking, talking marking department. She even had a jacket with her name, profession and signature romance slogan embroidered on the back! She was good! Imagine my surprise when I later discovered she was not yet published.

Some people might consider her presumptuous at best...crazy at worse. But not me. Only one word came to mind.

Faith.

A staturesque redhead, she amazed me not with her audacity, but with her undeniable confidence. She believed in her heart that the promise of one day being published would come to pass. When she spoke, her voice rang with absolute conviction and authority. The word "if" didn't cross her lips--only "when" did. Her every action declared the fruition of her dream was only a matter of time. I found myself envious. I couldn't take my eyes off her. Because I wanted what she had. That confidence. That belief. That faith.

It takes faith to print business cards and pens while you're still waiting for the contract. It takes crazy faith to have it emblazoned on your back! It proclaims I've hoped, dreamed and labored for this. I may not see it now, but I will because it's for me. This hope, this dream, is mine.

I learned many things this weekend about my craft that were awesome and engergizing...but none greater than the staturesque redhead with the embroidered jacket.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Novelist Enters PrimeTime

A new crime drama debuted last night on ABC called Castle. I saw a commercial during Dancing with the Stars and was compelled to watch it. You see, the protagonist is a novelist and is forced into a police investigation when a killer is using the murders from his books. And Nathan Fillion isn't too hard on the eyes. (g)

There's also a little something between Castle and the female detective, but she's not going to succumb and be another notch on his bedpost. Well, you know where this romantic wants that to go. So, we'll see.

If you're looking for something interesting next Monday night, catch the second episode of Castle.

http://abc.go.com/primetime/castle/index?pn=bios#t=character&d=179200

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Journey

They say a journey of a million miles begins with one step.

I seriously began my writing journey seven years ago. Since I started, I've encountered hills and valleys, walked a desert or two, and even took some detours. As with every journey there are problems, a flat tire (writers block), a stall (distracted by reading), possibly an accident (like deleting the story you've been working on). For me, it's been more about the vehicle. Somewhere along my path I traded in my car for a bicycle. I can still ride it but I am not going as fast as I'd like to.

Instead of moving forward steadily, I have written slowly (much like a leisurely ride on the bike) and I am very dissapointed. I'd expected to be a bit farther along then I am. I'd set out to finish a book, even two. Instead I have only half a book to show for it.

What are my interferences? Like everyone it is work, family, illness, and any number of things that lay in wait for unsuspecting writers. All have to be dealt with, so you can't ignore them, but all take time away from writing.

So, what can I do? I re-evaluated my time and effort and decided to make some changes. First, and most important, I decided to change my hours at work (and unfortunately decrease my income) and move from a 50-60 hr work week to 24 hours (I'm job sharing). This should give me far more time than I am getting now to write.

So, perhaps that bicycle can be upgraded to a moped. Next, I'm hoping for a Harley, that will certainly get me moving faster!

How is your journey going? What hinders you? What helps you? What changes are you going to make to help your journey?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Time away from writing

I'm late posting today because I was volunteering at Cottontail Village, educating people on the facts about adopting house rabbits.

That's one day I took away from writing for another passion of mine.

What do you do (other than that day job) that takes away from your time writing?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

And I Would Like To Thank...

Whenever you watch a NASCAR event and they interview the winner, he'll say something like "I couldn't have done it without my Coca-Cola, Mobil Oil, Pizza Hut, Goody's Powder, Turner Classic Channel, Chevrolet team." Yep. The longer the mic stays in front of them the more sponsors they'll mention. Too funny. Even stranger is that I don't mind. And yes, I'm like so many NASCAR fans, I'm more apt to buy from one of my favorite driver's sponsors. LOL!

Just think if romance writers had sponsors and when they stepped up on the stage at a RWA National Conference to accept their RITA. Would they say something like "I couldn't have done it without my Books-a-Million, Dell Computers, HP Multipurpose paper, Lexmark, Charter Internet, [insert critique partners, agent and publisher] team"?

Yeah. I can see it. Sponsor patches all over my formal, shaking up a big bottle of champagne and changing out tiaras with different logos in rhinestones as I talk with the interviewer from Romance Novel TV. Oh, yeeeaahhh.
Who would be your sponsors?

How NASCAR Does It.

For those who do not watch NASCAR, here's a good example. Go about 1 minute and 30 seconds into it to hear him run through his sponsors and change his hats. LOL!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

House as Character

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

So begins Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel of romantic suspense. Manderley, of course, is the English country home of the heroine's new husband, and Du Maurier makes this house a vivid and very real character in the novel.
I have always given serious thought to where my characters live. The heroine of one story lives in a French Provencial-style home in the Caribbean. I knew exactly what it looked like on the inside but couldn't quite visualize the outside. One day, my daughter and I were driving through a nearby suburb, and I spotted it. I was floored. I knew this was my heroine's house. (The next time we were going through that neighborhood, I brought the camera and made her take pictures as I drove by very slowly. She was mortified and convinced we were going to be arrested.)

Another house I found on the Outer Banks. At the time I saw it, I was still planning my story. It was a brand new mansion, and I happened upon it while they were having an open house. The real estate agent wouldn't let me take pictures, but I found it online later, which helped me save the details. Eventually I figured out why my heroine lived there, and it was the perfect house for her.

The Gamble House (above) in Pasadena, California, is another house I am in love with. I don't know which of my characters will live there, but one will someday.

How about you? How important are your characters' dwelling places?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It Takes Teamwork

Do We Really Know What We Want?