Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
I recently received notes and a request from an agent as a result of a contest. YAY, right? Absolutely. And while the agent said lots of nice things about my voice, my characters and the story; she also said something that sent this bona fide adjective junkie in search of the nearest thesaurus like a cop looking for the closest Krispy Kreme! My descriptions were “evocative, perfect” and there were WAY TOO MANY OF THEM! Eeeek! Telling me my writing is too descriptive is like telling me chocolate is too sweet. Oh the humanity!
She said my baby is too fat. SOB!
I, of course, immediately sought the opinion of someone I trust implicitly. To my horror this person said “Yep. The kid’s a porker. You need to trim that fat. Can I get you an axe?”
What’s a fat writer to do? That is my question, dear readers. My wonderful story needs a diet and NOW! Anyone have any tips, clues, fen fen for manuscripts?
And do you think descriptions are different for different genres? I write Regency set historicals. I don’t want to write dress-up historicals – thinly veiled contemporaries in Regency drag. But I don’t want my stories to be bogged down beneath avalanches of adjectives. How do you decide how much is too much?
“The road to hell is paved with adjectives.”
Great, now my poor baby has to face two of the greatest fears a Southern woman can endure – Being fat and Going to hell. I can just hear my mama now.
I need an intervention. I need some guidance. I need a really big butcher knife to take to this manuscript! This is all too much for me. Talk amongst yourselves while I go in search of a Krispy Kreme!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
What made you want to write YA?
Well, my story is a little different than most. I wasn’t writing or planning on writing a YA. One could call it luck, but I think it’s more about synchronicity. I had finaled in a contest years before and gotten my book in front of Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press. She liked it but didn’t make an offer. Later, when I got an agent, we sent Rose a proposal for a humorous paranormal romance. Rose loved it and took it to the committee to buy. But it didn’t make the cut. However, she loved my voice. She kept an eye on my career as I started to publish. Then, when they were looking for writers for their new YA program, she contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in trying my hand at writing a YA. I almost said no, because I didn’t have a clue if my voice would work in the YA market. When I shared my concerns with Rose, she said the reason she’d thought of me for this was because of my voice. She said I was a smarta$$ and teens liked that. Who would have guessed that being a smarta$$ would have gotten me somewhere in life? Especially when my mama told me it wouldn’t. LOL.
What difficulties did you face writing YA as opposed to your adult books?
Well, anytime you write in another genre, you need to be familiar with it. And because I wasn’t, I had to learn it and learn it quick. I read about a dozen YA books in a week. I analyzed what common elements they all shared. And what made them unique. Then I compared my notes to what I was writing, and figured out how YA books differed from Romance books. The one thing Rose Hilliard told me was to make sure not to change my voice. She didn’t want me to talk down to the readers. So I had to keep the voice, but I had to take some serious trips down memory lane to recall all the things that were important to me when I was sixteen. Because writing a YA meant I was going to have to get into the character of a sixteen year old girl.
Can you describe the series?
When Rose came to me, she had a two-word pitch. Paranormal camp. But for me, a story doesn’t come alive until I have my characters and the internal issues that my characters will face. I came up with a story about a sixteen year girl struggling to figure out who she is, only to discover that she doesn’t know what she is. Imagine being sixteen and told you weren’t human. Especially when you didn’t even know that non-humans existed. So the story’s theme is one of an identity crisis. It’s something I think teens and, heck, women of all ages face as we move from one stage of our lives to the other. Of course, there are also other threads running through the story, like friendship and romance. The title of the series is Shadow Falls, and Awake at Dawn is the second book in the series just released Oct. 11th.
What is your writing process? i.e. Do you write a set number of hours, pages? Do you write a rough first draft? Clean? Do you revise?
I work anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day. It’s not uncommon for that to be seven days a week. However, if I’m not on a deadline, I will take off early on the weekends so I can spend extra time with my family. Writing for two publishers and doing some self-publishing requires a lot of work. But since I love my work, it doesn’t feel so bad. I wish I could be so organized that could set out and write a certain amount of pages a day. But I never know how many will come out of me. I’ve written as many as 40 pages in a day, and as little as three. It all depends on how well the story is flowing and if the characters are talking to me. I’m dyslexic, and my first drafts are always riddled with mistakes, spelling errors, typos, and missing words. However, my first drafts are usually pretty clean when it comes to characters and plot. I will sometimes go back and up the conflict in a scene if I realize I didn’t bring it out enough. And I have been in the early stages of a book and came up with some plot twist and decided I needed to go back in and foreshadow it.
I usually reread and polish yesterday’s pages in the morning before I start the new pages for the day. Even then, I have lot of typos and nothing I write goes to the publisher without being read by my faithful critique group.
For the writers: Are you plotter, pantser, or both?
I am a true blue pantser. However, the business side of writing often tries to push me into being a plotter by insisting on little things called synopses and such. How dare they, huh? LOL. So now I will write a synopsis, but my editors know that things will probably change. I recently had another published friend ask to see my YA synopsis because she was attempting to write a YA. I sent it to her and after she read it she called me laughing. She couldn’t believe that at the end of the synopsis I wrote. I do not know who the villain is who lives inside the camp, but it will be the least likely person the reader will suspect. My friend asked me, did you really send that to your editor? I did. And honestly, my editor likes it like that. I haven’t even decided which guy my heroine will end up with at the end of the series. I mean…you know teenagers, my heroine might just change their mind. LOL. However, Rose says she likes me not knowing because then even the readers can’t figure it out.
What inspires you? (Music, movies, people?)
All of the above. I can honestly say that I think life inspires me. Which is why it’s important to find time for a life. It’s easy to submerse yourself in nothing but your work, but to do that is dangerous. When you stop living, you become susceptible to facing a lack of creativity. Even though I work too much, I still make time to walk, to chat with friends, to spend romantic evenings with my husband, to babysit my granddaughter, and to make sure I have plenty of time for laughter. Laughter, family, friends, and career, that’s the recipe for my life. Well, throw in some wine and chocolate and you’ll have it right.
What comes after this current YA book? Another YA or Adult?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
What she changed were phrases or sentences that better converyed to the reader what I actually meant for a particular scene. The changing of just one word does make a difference in the emotions of a scene. This being done without altering the intent of the scene.
Did I make errors in spelling, and grammer. Yes I did. The old cliche (can't see the forest for the trees) is very true. We are inside our story and can't see the small details. This is because we have had this story in our heads for a long time. A fresh set of eyes see what our minds gloss over.
Once I'm actually published I will send my editor a thank you e-mail. She deserves it, because without her my novel would sink to the bottom of the sea with my shame.
Friday, October 21, 2011
However, it isn't the only great Birmingham event for readers. The first weekend in February, mystery fans delight in Murder in the Magic City - a one day readers convention at the Homewood Library featuring mystery writers discussing their books and love of writing.
Hot on the heels of Murder in the Magic City is Southern Voices hosted by the Hoover Library. Southern Voices is a four-day conference exploring Southern culture as reflected in contemporary arts. The Saturday programming features Southern authors who share their stories. This event sells out within days of tickets going on sale.
Shortly after Southern Voices, the Heart of Dixie RWA chapter holds its annual Readers Luncheon. This event always pleases by bringing together the best romance writers in the area.
If you are a reader, you couldn't be in a better location. Get your calendar out so you can make sure you don't miss these outstanding events. Did I leave any out? What other opportunities are near by for readers?
Don't forget to buy your tickets to our Readers Luncheon by November 1. They are $35 and can be purchased through the Southern Magic website. Authors in attendance include:
Fred ArceneauxChristie Craig
Margaret Fenton Delores Fossen Lexi George
Lynn Raye Harris
Patti C. Henry
Chandra Sparks Taylor
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
My sister is a fashionista.
I am a rebel.
I hate to shop. I do not want to be a puppet of the clothing industry.
I could declare myself antisocial. Which reminds me of my mother.
I am a rebel.
I do not want to lock my doors, close the curtains, and eat a bowl of cereal for supper at 6 p.m.
Plus, I’ve been invited to go somewhere. Somewhere nice, with nice people. The Romance Readers Luncheon at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham Nov. 5. I can’t miss keynote speaker Victoria Dahl, or welcome speaker Jennifer Echols, Southern Magic’s very own Young Adult author. Or the other two dozen or so role-model authors who will be there.
The thing is, the classic outfit I bought ten years ago with the aid of a personal shopper--the knit sweater set and skirt I could wear anywhere, forever, is clearly dated. In order to participate in life, instead of just writing about it, this fangirl has to go shopping.
It’s not quite true that I never shop. I flip through the catalogs that overflow my mailbox. My chest of drawers boasts a complete wardrobe of swimsuits. I browse the pro shop at every country club where I play tennis. My closet is lined with tennis skirts and tops, some of them inappropriately ruffled for my age. And when I’m looking for a bargain on some staple item like laundry detergent, I swing through the athletic wear department at Wal-Mart. I own an astounding variety of white tank tops and black yoga pants.
However, when it comes to non-athletic events, dread overshadows anticipation. I not only have to give up writing time, I have to shop for something suitable to wear. The longer I stay away from the stores, the more deep-rooted my phobia becomes.
In my dream world, the one in which I’m a successful author with a staff a retinue an entourage, one of my adoring and beloved minions delivers the perfect ensemble, fresh and ready to wear, whenever I need to greet the public.
MINION! Where are you? I need to write, but I’m stressed about what to wear!
Monday, October 17, 2011
(Thanks, Katherine Bone, for pointing me to this. So cool!)
Saturday, October 15, 2011
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."~ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
Let me start with a few highs:
My debut novella, THE DJINN'S DILEMMA, from Harlequin Nocturne comes out Nov. 1.WooHoo! Almost there!
And I love the cover.
The artist totally captured my story about a djinn-assassin,Rukh,who hunts in the shadows and then falls desperately in love with his human target. The only way to save Sarah is to find out who wants her dead and stop them before someone else finishes the job.
Also, the lightning is an integral part of the story! LOVE it!
I have read and written since childhood, and always wanted to be an author (okay, sometimes I wanted to be author/vet or lawyer or rockstar), so this first step in publication is a dream come true. I should be super excited...and a part of me is, but another part of me scared out of my mind. Eeeep! My story is coming out Nov. 1. Eeeeep!
Fear #1: I'm clueless about what to do beyond writing the story. Here's my sad tale: I didn't realize my novella is available for pre-order until a kind friend told me. Yikes! In this day and age, an author has to do so much more than just the write the story and I don't know what to do and if I'm doing enough.
Fear #2: No one (besides family, friends, editor & agent) is going to like my story.
Now, I have laughed out loud and cried as I wrote the story, and edited it and re-read it over and over to be sure I hadn't imagined it. I know The Djinn's Dilemma is a good story. But the fear niggles.
It hasn't helped that when I mention the story is paranormal erotic romance, I get the oddest reactions.
One man asked if I'd let my 6-year-old read the book. Um, no. I don't write for that age group, I write for adults.
Of course, I get THE LOOK, followed by "Oh, you write dirty books." In fact, one lady took it upon herself to shout it out at a party. Yeah, I was the center of attention.
The first time it happened, I was stunned. Now I respond, "No, I write sexy books. And yes, The Djinn's Dilemma has amazing sex between two consenting and committed adults who are racing against time & bad guys to stay alive."
Several wise author friends, who are further along the publication road, shared some wonderful advice:
1. Don't worry about things you can't control.
2. Don't obsess over sales #s on Amazon and other sites.
3. Don't read reviews & DO NOT answer reviews.
And they all gave me one big DO:
Any other do's and don'ts I should keep in mind?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Q: How did you sell your first book to Harlequin Intrigue? Had you sold anything else before then?
Delores: I consider myself very lucky and blessed with my first Intrigue sale. I submitted a partial to Senior Editor Denise Zaza, and six days later she called to buy the book. Six days before that I'd sold a western romance to another New York publisher so needless to say, it was one of the best times of my life. Two "calls" in one week! I broke my bed jumping up and down in celebration, and it's possible that people on other continents heard me whoop for joy.
Q: What's the oddest bit of research you've ever had to do?
Delores: For one of my Intrigues, I had my heroine running through the Texas Hill Country. I have some land (very rural) in Bulverde, Texas. Actually, it's a three acre hill, and I decided to run up it to time how long it would take my heroine to escape the gunmen after her. I weighed myself down with all the things my heroine was supposed to be carrying. Little did I know that on the other side on the hill was a herd of my neighbor's longhorns that had broken fence and moseyed onto my land. Well, they didn't mosey when I screamed at the top of my lungs, and I caused a mini stampede.
Q: What non-writing experiences in your life have most prepared you to be a writer?
Delores: I've had a variety of careers--an Air Force officer, special ed teacher, rehab counselor and at times I was a stay-at-home mom to my four children. I also lived in England for eight years and have traveled all over the world. My family used to tell me I did those things because I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted to do or see. There's some truth in that, but now I pull from all those experiences and travels. I'm always on the hunt for a new adventure to give me even more material for my books and because I still love doing new things.
Q: Do you have a favorite series you've written, and if so, what makes it special to you?
Delores: My upcoming series, THE LAWMEN OF SILVER CREEK RANCH, is my favorite (so far). It's about a family of six brothers who are all cowboy cops. There's some dysfunction, an old murder to solve, lots of danger and plenty of romance. I do know a little about the in's and out's of a big family because I have six sisters. (Yes, six!) The first book of the series, GRAYSON, comes out in November.
Q: Are you a plotter, a pantser or somewhere in between?
Delores: I call myself a plotting pantser. I write the first three chapters by the seat of my pants and then stop and plot so I can do a detailed synopsis. I hate doing the synopsis, but without it I'm sure I'd have plot holes the size of Texas.
Q: What's on tap for you, book-wise, in 2012?
Delores: My new 6-book Intrigue series, The Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch, will continue in 2012 with NATE in January, KADE is July, GAGE in August and MASON in September. In January, I also have a novella, "Cold Heat" in the ICE LAKE anthology with fellow authors and friends, BJ Daniels and Julie Miller. Finally, in December, CHRISTMAS RESCUE AT MUSTANG RIDGE (working title) hits the shelves.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Vin Diesel is who I imagine as a secondary character, Jack, who appears in Circle of Desire (coming out 10/18) and again in Circle of Danger that comes out next year. I'm hoping all goes well and his story is the fourth book (keeping fingers crossed that Avon Impulse will want more from me). My editor already asked that I make the third book (they haven't bought yet) a certain other secondary character (Rex) she really liked. She has good taste by the way.
I usually have an actor in mind when I write my books. Helps me fill in physical traits (Jack has a shaved head, tats and piercings), though the character traits are from my imagination.
Then be on the look out for my blog tour that will start with an interview on Christine Glover's blog, Digging Out of Distraction. I do know during the tour, I will be giving away two $25 gift cards. [10/17 Note:This was changed on 10/15 to 1 $25 Amazon card and 3 $10 B&N cards - one per winner] One from Amazon (provided by Avon Impulse) and another one from Barnes and Noble (provided by me). I may have some more surprises, so be on the look out on my blog and website.
OCT. 17 -- Among The Muses
OCT. 18 -- Readers Girls
OCT. 19 -- Black Velvet Seductions
OCT. 20 -- Heart of the Dragon's Den
OCT. 21 -- I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Special requested dates:
OCT. 16 -- Christine Glover's Blog
OCT. 24 -- Patricia Preston's Blog
OCT. 25 -- Christy Reece's Blog
NOV. 11 -- Mary Freeman's Blog - Blame It On The Muse
Don't let me hang out there by myself. PLEASE. And if you would like me to be a guest on your blog, just click on my website link above and email me (you will find it under CONTACT ME). Blogspot said spammers are bad about picking up email addresses off posts. But links must not have the problem.
So what is the question I would like to see answered in the comments? What actor have you imagined as the hero in one or more of your books?
P.S. Paula and I switched blog days.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Since most writers have written several books by the time they get published, the term is misleading. It refers to the second book after publication, and it is very real.
I know, because it happened to me.
There are a number of things, I think, responsible for this dreaded affliction. When you’re writing the book that FINALLY gets published, you’re not under a deadline. It’s your passion, your joy, your frustrating and exhilarating obsession, but you’re on your own time. The only pressure to perform, to create, is the pressure you put on yourself and the insistence of the voices in your head.
After you get The Call and you’re under contract, you’re on THEIR time. And, if you’re like me, you have a day job, a family, a messy house, flowerbeds full of weeds, piles of laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away, groceries to buy and meals to cook—teenagers, for some reason, insist on being fed—church obligations, social obligations. The list goes on and on.
Don't get me wrong, there’s nothing like The Call. For the first few weeks, you walk around in a daze, grinning like a jackass eating briars, thrilled and humbled by your good fortune. You pinch yourself until you’re black and blue, because your dream is coming true.
Then you realize you have to do it again, and that’s when it starts.
What if it was a fluke? What if you can’t do it again? What if your publisher HATES book two? This is my personal favorite and the anti muse that screamed loudest in my head, because I knew going in that book two would be different from book one.
What if the readers hate it and it sucks so bad the publisher yanks your contract, brands you with a big LOSER stamp, and tosses you back in the slush pile?
My publisher has been very generous with me time-wise. I cannot play the ‘I didn’t have time’ card. But, I am a slow writer, and that added to my anxiety.
I made my deadline, thank goodness, but I landed myself in the hospital in the process. Wore myself slap out with worry and pressure, and self doubt.
So, how do you avoid sophomore book syndrome? You don’t. It’s like a cold. Some writers will get it and some lucky ones won’t. And it doesn’t necessarily end with the second book. It can strike at any time, whether it be your second book or your twenty-second.
If you do succumb, take deep breaths. Every time a negative thought creeps into your head, push it away and replace it with something positive. You CAN write. You WON’T fail. The book WILL be good.
Avoid, whenever possible, negative people and situations. They will drain you and shut you down. If you can’t write at home, go somewhere else. Retreat to your local library or your church, or the nearest Starbucks. Hide out in your office on the weekend or hang out at a friend’s house while they're on vacation. With their permission, of course. Otherwise, it's called breaking and entering.
Be good to yourself. Surround yourself with creative friends, especially other writers. Put on your shoes and take a walk. Exercise will clear your head, energize you, and lower your soaring cortisol levels. Read a good book or go see a movie. It will get your creative juices flowing and refuel your muse.
Give yourself permission to let some things slide, like the dust bunnies or the overflowing closet. You are allowed to be selfish, if only a few hours of the day. Bach had 20 children and two wives. How much would he have accomplished if he’d had to change all those diapers?
Reacquaint yourself with your crockpot, and explain to the spouse and kids that the dishwasher is not a portal to another dimension. They can unload it without danger of being sucked into an abyss.
Really. My husband lived in terror until I explained this to him.
Write, write, write. Keep moving forward. Even if you’re certain that every word is crap, get something on paper. You can’t revise an empty page.
Most of all, try to remember the joy and the creative urge that lead you to write in the first place. There’s a reason you’re a writer. You’ve got a story to tell.
So tell it.
Friday, October 07, 2011
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
Uh-oh. No file folder for the story, no documents, no nothing. And then I realized that 10 years ago was also 6 computers ago. After some serious searching, I found my "backup" floppy disks from 2001. I'm sure I could probably go to an antique store and buy something that would allow me to read these disks, but who wants to spend money on something so outdated?
The search made me pause to think about the rapid changes we've seen in storage techology. I have saved documents on (truly) floppy disks, rigid floppy disks, Sytec drives (whatever those were!), CDs, DVDs, external hard drives, and flash drives. And now cyber technology has given us the unseen cloud for storage. Where does it go from here?
Fortunately, I have two printed drafts of the book. And since I'm doing major rewriting anyway, I don't mind re-keying it. Sometimes old school is the best school.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
As a parent of three with a full time day job outside the home, not to mention how busy November tends to be with holiday drama and school activities, this doesn't seem very practical for the everyday writer. So, I'm curious if any of you have attempted this feat? Was it a success and motivate you more or did it actually block your productivity?