Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
The true Alpha male is not a bully or a brute. He is the guy who is first to lead the charge for a worthy cause. He is supremely equipped, physically and mentally, to fight for success in the ultra-competitive world we inhabit.
The true Alpha male embodies the best characteristics of the male of our species, namely rugged outer qualities such as muscularity, strength and power, but also inner qualities such as confidence (without conceit), courage (without recklessness), commitment and a conscience.
The true Alpha male has the combination of physical and mental toughness but also a concern for other humans as a whole.
A true Alpha male meets the ideal of contemporary masculine excellence. In other words, the true Alpha male has all the core qualities of a hero.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I've done a post on internal conflict before, but it bears repeating. I give the whole subject a lot of thought, after all. As we all should, since getting it wrong seems to earn a lot of very talented writers some very fast rejection letters! I was fortunate that my own conflict issue has only gotten me revisions at this point.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I'm in desperate need of some levity today. Has been an interesting week in the writing world and I just can't handle all the seeeerrrriousness anymore!!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
She looked past him. “I want you to know, I tried to call you. I did. I left a message with your PA and you never called back, and so I came here to see you, only I couldn't get in to see you, so I was just going to go home.”
“Yeah, I do that when I'm nervous. But you try telling some guy you barely know that you're pregnant and see you calm you feel.” She clapped a hand over her mouth in a belated attempt to stop the uncontrollable flow of words from escaping.
Jack's eyes narrowed. “You're what?”
“And this has something to do with me?”
Her blood reached the boiling point. “No. I thought I'd come all this way to let you know I got knocked up by some random guy. So, it's been real, I'll look you up next time I'm in the area.”
His temper snapped. “This is not the time for sarcasm.”
She let out an indignant huff. “Well, ask a stupid question.”
“So, you're telling me it's my baby?” he began to pace the room. He felt dangerously close to losing his trademark cool. In every situation in his life, business or personal, he was always in control. Except, it seemed, with Stacey.
“Of course it's your baby! Do you think I hopped out of your bed and into someone elses?”
His blue eyes flashed dangerously. “Well, you hopped into mine pretty fast.”
Her cheeks flamed. “You hopped just as fast as I did.” Of all the chauvinistic double standards.
He had the decency to look somewhat cowed by that. “I'm sorry. That was uncalled for.”
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
In this instance, the plot came before the characters. I knew I needed a prince, and I knew I needed a commoner. Beyond that, I had nothing in mind. So I had some free rein in creating the people that wanted to inhabit my new little world.
First order of business was to figure out who the hero was. He had to be commanding, of course, and sexy, and powerful. He's a prince after all. And as I'm partial to dark haired, dark skinned men, he was lucky enough to be blessed with hose attributes. But that isn't who he is. So I had to dig deeper and figure out what his internal conflict was. What would hold this man, with wealth, power, everything he could want at his fingertips, back from falling straight into love with the heroine?
So as the picture of my hero began to form, the heroine started taking shape. I knew the hero was going to be all about duty and honor, a very straight laced, traditional kind of guy. And I knew that with that, I wanted a woman who didn't back down from a challenge, who had wit to spare and who knew how to hold her own. Her personality was formed as a foil to his, so that she was someone who would both compliment and challenge the hero that I had created. Even her looks were designed to be in opposition to something: the woman my hero is *gasp* engaged to.
Then I started going deeper into her, figuring out where she came from, and what things are hang-ups for her, what sorts of things would bother her and which things would roll off her back, and ultimately, what would be the breaking point for her in a relationship.
From the character histories that I created came all kinds of things about them, the way they move, the way they talk and the way they react in certain situations.
Caitlin, my heroine, for example, is from the Midwest and has a much more casual speech pattern than Renzo, the hero, who speaks English as a second language and grew up in a much more formal environment.
Character building, for me, is never the same thing twice. With my last MS I created two people with a fairly complete history and then though: What would be about the most difficult situation for them to deal with? Then I threw it at them. As far as internal conflict went, this made writing that MS pretty straightforward.
How do you do it? How do you build characters and bring them to life? What comes first, the characters or the plot?
Monday, November 9, 2009
So, I thought I would talk about some of the main points made in my letters, to give you an idea of what the editors are looking for, using my folly as an example. Hey, someone oughtta learn from my mistakes, right?
A lot of this relates specifically to Harlequin Presents/Modern, but also could be translated to any publisher of any genre, because good writing, good story construction, is pretty universal.
Pace: After my second round of revisions I had added in some new scenes, which was a bad idea, because while, in my mind, I was building a mood, in reality I was slowing the pace. I had added these scenes that were fine enough, but they weren't advancing the story. Especially in these shorter novels, pacing is a big deal.
Recently, with all the contests floating around, I've seen a lot of the people who judge contests saying that the biggest problem they see in entries is pacing. Too much time is spent describing the mundane and not enough time spent propelling the story forward.
I heard it described this way once: In the classics, like Dickens for example, description was much more important. The author might spend two paragraphs explaining a cobblestone street. Because maybe not everyone knew just what a cobblestone street was. Now we're inundated with images, we've seen much more, and in our movie culture we demand stories with a more movie-like pace, rather than one that spends four pages telling you about the gables of a house.
When editing, ask yourself: what is this scene doing to advance the plot? As it was put in my letter, "In this case the reader is almost waiting for the point of change, or a secondary layer of conflict."
And I didn't deliver it. What I had was some boring scenes that just sat there.
Conflict: Oh, this is the biggie. Conflict. Internal stinking conflict. In my letter it was put this way, "Readers respond to strong, believable conflicts that stem from the character’s fundamental personality, and which exist within the construct of the relationship itself."
Well, that means that (and this seems like a no duh, but it took be long enough to get it) the conflict comes from within the characters, not an outside source. External conflict is there, it's essential to most plots.
For example: The h and H have to get married to secure an inheritance, but they'll only stay married for one year.
But that's not what keeps them apart, it's not what drives them or what makes them who they are, and ultimately it's not the twelve month limit on the relationship that's going to end it, it's their own issues. And no, it can't be a crazy ex-girlfriend, I tried that. That's also external.
But what if the hero believes that no one can love him? His own mother left him, and since then, since acquiring his vast fortune, everyone in his life has just been a leech, after his wealth. So he rejects the heroine's love because he believes it to be false, based on an insecurity within him.
Probably not the best example, but I thought it up on the fly. And anyway, you get the idea. Internal conflict is not the crazy exes or evil aunts or half-heard conversations.
Character: Now, she had a lot of good to say about my characters, but she had some very valid points about some things I'd done wrong. This is from my third letter and she mentions that especially during revisions, it's easy to have characters slip out of...well...character.
With my hero especially, as I've mentioned, I had to really make him more alpha than he was in my first draft, and while I did that, there were moments where Old Marco came out and undermined New Sexy Marco. It was essential that I made sure I knew Marco so that I could read through the MS and know right away if he was acting 'off.'
As for my heroine, I was guilty, at times, of falling back on cliches. Elaine is a strong woman, educated and career oriented, yet at times she did things simply because it's what the heroines do. When Marco reached for her she gave a cry and pulled away. And it was brought up in the letter 'why would she give a cry?' Good question. Why would my very non-shrinking violet heroine turn into a swooning Southern Belle suddenly?
The editor's words were, "have faith in your characters. Don’t try and emulate what you have read before, but build believable, three-dimensional people who have honest reactions. Don’t fall back on the stereotype."
And that's great advice for every author and every MS in every genre. If the reader can't buy into the characters, they won't care about the book. We have to make people that are real, who say real things and react to situations the way real people would. Even if they are richer and prettier while doing it. :-)
And in closing, she reminded me to let my natural voice shine through, because that's what they want. Authors who can bring their own twist and flavor to the line, not retreads of what's been seen before.
Write happy, my friends!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Here's a very rough excerpt from my just finished MS, His Unwanted Wife! Enjoy!
Sabrina clapped a hand over her chest to try and still her beating heart. Cade had never looked more handsome than he did tonight. And she was certain she’d never loved him more.
She knew there were plenty of people who would say that a young woman of eighteen didn’t know what true love was, but she did. She knew she did. She had from the first moment she’d seen Cade scowling in the entryway of her family home, his protective grasp on his mother’s arm, his misgivings about his newly inherited family clearly etched in his face.
He’d been the only man for her from that moment on. Not that he’d ever noticed her in that way. She was just his annoying stepsister as far as he was concerned But that was going to change tonight.
Smoothing her hands over the slinky burgundy velvet that hugged her abundant figure like a second skin, she began to walk out from her parent’s grand ballroom and onto the terrace. Cade was there, his hands gripping the railing tight, his focus on the ocean that crashed against the rocks below. He was so handsome it took her breath away. No, not just handsome, sexy.
One thing that had changed about her feelings in the past eight years was the nature of her desires. When she’d first met him she’d thought him the most handsome boy she’d ever seen, and she’d hero worshipped him to the point of driving him crazy.
She no longer worshipped him, not in that way. She wanted him. Like a woman wanted a man. She longed to kiss his sensual lips, to caress his chiseled jaw and twine her fingers through his thick dark hair. She wanted to kiss his neck, his chest. Everything. Everywhere. It had become an absolute madness inside of her, this need for him both emotionally and physically.
He was so handsome, his broad tall frame backlit by the silver glow of the moon. She placed her hands on her full hips, horribly self-conscious of the fact that she wasn’t the essence of female perfection. She felt wide and ungainly suddenly, not exactly like a sexy siren.
She took a breath the steel herself against the nerves that were threatening to overwhelm her. No going back now. Cade was her birthday present to herself. She wanted him and she wasn’t going to deny herself anymore. It was her birthday party after all. Shouldn’t she get the one thing she wanted most?
“Hi,” she said, suddenly feeling a lot more timid and a lot less like the brazen vixen she’d imagined she might transform herself into with a form fitting dress and stiletto heels. Instead she was just conscious of the fact that any rogue bubble of fat might choose that moment to shift and make itself visible to his piercing brown gaze.
“Happy birthday,” he said, lifting a glass of champagne in her direction.
“Could I have some of that?” she asked, gesturing to the fizzy drink in his hand.
“Maybe in three more years, princess,” he said, her childhood nickname sounding oddly intimate on his lips tonight. Maybe it was just her wild imagination wanting everything he said to sound intimate.
“I’m not a child, Cade,” she said, trying to make her voice sound a little huskier, a little more sensual.
“I didn’t say you were. But the law is the law.” He tipped back another sip, a mocking grin on his handsome face.
She rubbed her lips together to smooth out a lump she could feel forming in the dark red lipstick. “And you’re nothing if not an upright citizen.” Which served her just fine since, as of tonight, it was officially legal for him to take her to bed. The thought made her insides twist with nervous pleasure. She didn’t know that much about men, but she’d done a lot of research on the subject of sex. No sense going into anything a total novice, not when one could prepare.
She moved closer to him, the scent of his cologne combined with the musk of man teased her nose. No one smelled like Cade. He was intoxicating. A low pulse began to beat at the apex of her thighs and her nipples peaked. It was always like this when she was around him, and she was finally doing something about it.
“That’s me. I’m just an upstanding kind of guy,” he said with a lopsided grin.
“So how is…how is business going?” she asked, leaning in a little closer to try and catch some of that forbidden scent again.
“It’s going well.” He treated her to a real smile, one that showed his perfect teeth and her heart melted. “Our charters have increased by twenty five percent in the last quarter.”
“Who would have thought that renting out yachts and planes could be such a money maker?”
The teasing glint in his eyes melted her bones. “Well, I did. And I’ve more than paid back everyone who invested in the start up.”
She reached a hand out and put it on his arm. She shivered when his bicep flexed beneath her fingertips. His eyes snapped up and met hers, his expression inscrutable. Her breath hitched.
“Sabrina! Cade!” At that moment Caryn, Sabrina’s best friend, came waltzing out onto the deck, her chin length bob sleek, not a dark hair out of place. Her figure was perfectly sleek too, none of the little bubbles of imperfect flesh destroying her smooth lines.
Her friend grinned and a little dimple appeared by her full lips. She looked back at Cade and saw she’d lost his attention. He moved away from her, the cold left by his retreating body heat had her feeling bereft.
Then he was at Caryn’s side, too close for it to be casual or accidental. He wound his arm around her waist and she flashed him a glowing smile.
Shock slammed her chest with the force of a brick, nearly knocking her back with the weight of it. Caryn looked sheepish, a slight flush covering her cheeks. “I didn’t want to say anything until I knew if it was going to turn into anything,” she said.
“What?” Sabrina’s voice sounded stupid and hollow to her own ears.
Of course Caryn didn’t know about her feelings for Cade, no one did. The sheer weight of what she felt for him, combined with the forbidden aspect of him being her stepbrother, had always kept her from confiding in anyone. But surely she had to be hallucinating. He couldn’t be with Caryn, not that way, not now.
Cade flashed her a wide smile and drew Caryn closer to his body. “We’ve been seeing each other for a couple months.”
“But because of our friendship we didn’t want to say anything in case it didn’t work out,” Caryn finished, her eyes sparkling.
“But since I’ve asked Caryn to marry me and she’s accepted, we thought it would be a good time to tell you.”
“We’re going to be sisters!” Caryn exploded. “Happy Birthday!”
Sabrina felt the hot rush of tears sting her eyes and she knew she couldn’t let them fall. The cake she’d eaten earlier rolled in her stomach and she wanted more than anything to lean over the railing and heave it back up. She swallowed against the suffocating ache that was climbing her throat. “Congratulations.”
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Okay, image is kind of unrelated, I just love this cover*. But really, this guy is pretty hot, can you blame me?
When I received my first revision letter back on Oct. of '08, for the partial MS I had submitted, one of the main things the editor wanted me to change was the way my hero reacted to the heroine, and to the situation in general.
The paragraph on the hero is as follows: An alpha hero is noted for his control of the situations he finds himself in, so in order for him not to lose when she presents her proposal this we need to see a little more from him as a character. Maybe we could see a little more cynicism from him with regard to her proposal? At the moment he seems to weaken a little quickly for a successful businessman. We need to see a little more of the ruthlessness that got him to the top!
Truth be told, I had set out to make something of a kinder, gentler hero, which, I realize now, just doesn't translate to Presents!
So I had three chapters to take my hero and bring him from beta to alpha. So I did a lot of reading on the Harlequin sites about what makes an alpha (see previous post!) and I sat down to see what I could do with Marco, my hero.
This is going to sound really silly, but I swear to you it worked. I looked through a lot of the dialogue and did some very simple changes. The first thing I did was change his questions to commands.
Example: "Will you accompany me?" becomes "You will accompany me." Simple. But effective. And it went a long way in helping me tip the balance of power back to him.
Which is another thing: Nobody puts an alpha in the corner.
My heroine was the instigator of the marriage of convenience in my MS, which forced me to walk a very tricky line, one I didn't walk very well at first, to have it be her proposal, but to have him be the one with the control.
So it helped for me to put it in Marco's POV, so show him taking the proposal and thinking of the ways it could be used to his advantage. I think it was important that the stakes were higher for the heroine. Financially, it was beneficial to Marco, but he was successful on his own. So while it would mean more money for him, the marriage wasn't as necessary for him as it was for her, which reversed the power balance on poor Elaine, my heroine.
As long as the need was greater for her, he held all the cards. She approached him, and plan was hers, but the ultimate terms and conditions were up to him.
The one thing I did not do to make my hero more alpha, was weaken the heroine. Elaine is a strong, independent woman with goals and aspirations and I did not want to sacrifice her strengths in order to make him look stronger. And I didn't need to. A weak heroine doesn't add strength to your hero. If anything, it makes the whole dynamic of the relationship a watered down disaster where the hero really is just a bully and the heroine might as well have 'Welcome' stamped across her forehead.
In fact, I think a strong heroine enhances the hero's alpha-ness. He can get away with a lot more if she's able to stand up for herself, stand her ground.
Adding the alpha to Marco didn't mean adding cruelty, although New Marco did say some things Old Marco would never have dreamed of, but New Marco had that alpha freedom, that ruthless streak that enabled him to speak with such confidence that he would plainly speak his opinions and lay out the reality of a situation without sugar coating.
What's your secret for crafting a deliciously strong alpha male? Share your thoughts on the process!!
*Cover from The Desert King's Bejewelled Bride by Sabrina Philips. If you haven't read it already, then what are you waiting for? Check it out!!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I know for the historical novelist this is going to be a much different kettle of fish than for us contemporary writers. I can't even imagine all the work that must go into historicals. From clothing to homes to speech to customs. It's daunting!!
For me I use a lot of Google. Thank God for Google! I can use it to see the interiors of private planes, take virtual tours of resorts and private islands and million dollar homes in Aspen. Oh, and Google Earth. I rely on it to kind of give me a sense of direction when I'm writing about places I've never been.
Then there's people watching.
I used to go to Starbucks to write, much more often than I do now, and I would always spend a good portion of my time listening (yeah, okay, eavesdropping) to people's conversations.
I heard a love story about a couple who met once in Australia and then again, by chance, or not, in Oregon. I listened to people meet each other, talk for hours, exchange phone numbers and make plans to meet again. I got to overhear a job interview for an exotic dancer position at a strip club. People are fascinating. There is a lot of good information to be gleaned from just listening to people talk.
Though I've never used direct snippets from these overheard conversations (because I've never had an exotic dancer in on of my MSs ;-) I feel like I've taken my observations about these people that are so different from me, and that I've been able to use it to help me with character development in my various MSs.
So, fellow writers, what are your research tricks?
Monday, October 19, 2009
The first in the series. Skylar Daines has spent most of her life traveling with her father and younger brother, herding mustangs and disguising herself as a boy (at her father's insistence).
Chance's story. Chance always vowed he would never get married because of his evil stepmother, but when he encounters his stepsister for the first time in nearly twenty years he finds himself attracted to her in spite of the fact that he thinks she's probably just like her mother.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Of course, when the revision letter came back 'less external conflict, more internal' I had to figure that out real quick.
I think Michelle Willingham summed it up perfectly when she said this on the subject: ...
"Emotion is what forms the backbone of the romance. You have to be able to remove every external conflict and still have a compelling reason for the hero and heroine to be conflicted.
If the hero is a damaged man, who's never been loved, he'll be suspicious of the heroine's efforts to love him. He'll draw false conclusions and he'll fight against his own feelings for fear of being hurt. As the book progresses, you play on those fears, and at the end, he should face his greatest fear (loving the heroine and almost losing her).
The heroine might be someone who isn't afraid of love, but maybe she's made bad choices. Maybe she thinks she's not good enough for the hero (Cinderella story). The more she tries to get close to him, the more he pushes her away(that plays on her feelings of insecurity and being not good enough)
You use the external conflict to push them into the wall, to face those tough emotions. Make 'em bleed."
The internal conflict is all about what keeps the hero and heroine apart. Sure, there are external forces at work such as a marriage of convenience for the sake of the hero's business, or an unintended pregnancy, but in the end, the reasons for the h and H for being apart, or not falling in love, have to come from within.
It's so frustrating to read a romance where the whole conflict could have been solved through a conversation. Say the ex of the hero shows up, telling the heroine what a cad the hero is, how he left her pregnant and destitute, then forced her to have an abortion, so the heroine leaves, that was an external force. The issue the heroine has with the hero has come from somewhere else.
In contrast, say you take that same heroine, same situation. Take out the plot device, i.e the crazy ex, and ask what the heroine's deeper issues are. What if she's frightened of being with a man, loving a man, who doesn't love her. She watched her own mother self destruct as a result of her father's indifference and she knows she can't allow herself to suffer the same way. Even if she is carrying his baby. So she leaves.
In that case, the problem is not so easily solved, and we stay away from the simple solution of 'but, darling, that's just not true!'
It's always better when the journey to "The End" is centered on the journey and growth of the characters, and to really accomplish that, the conflict has to be internal.
I'll let you know when I master it. :-)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
So what inspires all of my fellow writers out there?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Acacia Masterson bit out a word that would have gotten her mouth washed out if she’d been in her mother’s presence. Of course, if she’d stayed near her mother she wouldn’t be in her current situation.
She turned and faced the gorilla-man that was escorting her from the livestock pavilion and thrust her nose in the air, trying to affect her best Manhattan aristocrat manner. “I am not a…whatever you called me.”
“A buckle bunny,” he said, not disguising his obvious admiration for her curves.
“Yes.” She jerked her arm out of his iron grip. “That. I’m not a buckle bunny. I have no interest in getting near Mr. Rivera’s buckle. I’m a member of the press and I want to speak to Mr. Rivera about…”
He laughed. “You ain’t getting anywhere near Mr. Rivera. He do interviews.”
“But I can assure you I have the proper credentials and I…”
The man cut her off again. “Credentials don’t mean anything to Mr. Rivera. He don’t speak to the press.”
She successfully held back another uncharacteristic curse. “I know that typically Mr. Rivera doesn’t grant interviews, but I had hoped to speak with him.”
“Then all your hopes were in vain, missy. You might have had better luck if you were after his belt buckle.”
The gorilla-man turned and went back into the pavilion, slamming the red metal gate behind him. Acacia turned on the heel of her new western style boots and kicked the nearest truck tire with them. She hadn’t come out to the middle of Podunk, Oregon to be denied her interview. She needed it. She’d told her boss she would get it. And if she didn’t she could kiss her permanent position at Success Magazine goodbye.
Domenico Rivera had shot to fame seemingly overnight riding saddle broncs in the pro-rodeo circuit. He’d earned millions competing in the big competitions and since retiring and becoming a rancher and livestock broker he’d earned millions, if not billions, more. And he didn’t give interviews, that she already knew, which was what made him such a hot commodity.
Which was why she was at the Pendleton Roundup trying to squeeze past security at ten o’clock at night.
The stockyard was essentially deserted. Most everyone had packed up and left already, but not Domenico Rivera. His fleet of white trucks and gleaming white horse trailers emblazoned with the Rivera Estancia logo were still scattered over the dirt lot, the doors to the trailers open, waiting for the animals to get loaded in.
She crept over to one of the trucks and peeked in the window. It was immaculately clean, not even bits of hay in the floorboards, which was a feat considering there was hay dusting every square inch of the place.
It was nothing less than she should have expected from a man of Domenico’s reputation. He was renowned for being a perfectionist, a hard worker who demanded the same level of dedication from his employees and he demanded of himself.
Yes, Domenico Rivera was legendary, and not just in the rodeo circuit, but worldwide, for the quality of the cattle he raised and for the extreme levels of success he’d managed to elevate himself to. He was a success for the modern age, a man who had used hard work and dedication, rather than connections, to make his fortune.
She clenched her fists tightly, adrenaline coursing through her veins. She needed this interview. If she got it her position at the magazine was secure and her career would be off to a blazing start. At twenty-two she was the youngest of the interns, and she was by far the least worldly-wise. But she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She’d made up her mind the moment she’d walked out of her parent’s New York penthouse, leaving behind her piano and every expectation her parents had ever had for her.
She had no choice now but to succeed. She was not going back home with her tail between her legs to receive a very haughty I-told-you-so from her mother and father.
Voices, one she recognized as belonging to her old friend The Gorilla, carried through the night air. She scanned the area, looking for a place to hide, just until Domenico’s bodyguard was out of the area.
A small side door next to one of the open ramps on the horse trailer was slightly ajar and she ducked inside as quickly as possible, shutting the door behind her. The tiny space was filled with tack, the smell of leather filling up the enclosure. She pressed her ear to the door and listened carefully for the voices, trying to discern whether or not they’d passed by.
She exhaled when the only sound she registered were crickets and pressed lightly on the tack room door. It wouldn’t budge.
She leaned against it, putting all of her weight behind it, which, she knew, at her size, was ineffective at best.
What to do now? Call for help and risk getting thrown to the curb by gorilla-man and subsequently barred from all pro-rodeo events in the country? Or look for another way out?
There had to be another way.
She felt along the seam of the door, hoping to find a lock, a hinge, something that might give her a chance to get herself free. The seams were smooth. All of the hardware was on the outside of the trailer.
For the second time in a few minutes she mumbled a curse word.
Time to kiss the interview goodbye.
She opened her mouth to scream but stopped short when she heard an engine roar to life. The horse trailer jerked and then lurched into motion. She gripped the bridles that were hanging on the wall and tried to steady herself. And then she did scream. Loudly. The only thing she was rewarded with was the sound of stomping on the other side of the wall. Horses, not people. No help.
She screamed again and kicked the wall, the sound rattling through the metal space. Nothing. Her moving prison began to pick up speed and the bumpy surface of the dirt lot had given way to smooth pavement beneath the wheels of the trailer.
She clenched her teeth to hold in the wail of despair that was climbing her throat. It was the first time since she’d left home to pursue her career in journalism that she’d thought her mother might be right. That she was too sheltered, too pampered, to tackle a profession so demanding.
The floor was clean and Acacia sat gingerly on the hard surface, trying to fight the tears that were threatening to overflow.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sabrina Philips is a newer author. She's also the youngest Presents author in the history of the series, and it shows. (in a good way)
She has a very modern take on the some old themes, and I quite enjoyed! Kaliq is still as alpha as they come, but he's actually got a bit of a sense of humor. And our heroine Tamara doesn't let the guy just run his mouth! She's sassy, and she really holds her own against a formidable, royal man.
And I have to say, it's worth buying this books just for the man on the cover.
Four star rating on the book, and on the cover model!
Fortune's Forbidden Woman by Heidi Betts (Silhouette Desire)
This one is a repeat read for me. In fact, I found myself reading it again this week. I've enjoyed every book in the Dakota Fortune's Continuity that I've read, but this one is the fave.
Forbidden love? Check. Years of pent up longing? Check! A hero that needs the love of a good woman to soften him up? Double Check.
Maya and Creed have wanted each other for years, but the fact that their part of the most famous family in the state, and that their stepbrother and sister has always stood in their way. Until one night...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I read that 80-90% of revision letters from publishers are ignored. In that, the person who receives them never follows up. I think there are a few reasons for this, one is that it's daunting to have to re-imagine something you've already done, and sometimes it's tough to know where to go. Another reason is the writer's worst enemy: ego.
It's hard to have someone essentially tear apart something that means a lot to you. I've been the recipient of three revision letters, all for the same MS. The last of which meant doing a complete rewrite on the last half of the MS.
I've come to realize a few things through this experience. While I don't believe there's room for self-doubt and false modesty in writing, I also don't think there's room for the big ego. The editor is a part of the publishing world, and the editor knows what sells. If the editor can sell your book, they will buy it. So it's my job as the writer to create a product that will sell. And if an editor is willing to help with that, all the better! Those revision letters are like gold mines. An opportunity to glean information, and valuable help with creating a better story, from a professional in the industry.
A revision letter is a blessing, not a curse. An editor won't waste their time if they don't believe in you. The fact that they're taking the time to help you along is an incredible opportunity.
The other thing I've learned? Nothing I write is sacred. It can all go. And in the end, I may very well have something much better.
As I mentioned, my last revision letter called for a rewrite of more than half of my MS. That scared the pants off of me to be honest. How could I change something so major? How could I think of another, better way, to end the book? So I took a few days to quietly panic and reassess what I had done, then I looked at the letter again, took a deep breath and deleted more than 25,000 words.
The end result? It's much better than what I had done originally. But I had to be willing to sacrifice the original to get there. And I'm so glad I did. With help, I crafted a much better story than what I had done on my own. The outside perspective didn't take away from my original vision, it added to it in ways I couldn't have imagined by myself.
I'm also blessed to have an amazingly supportive, brutally honest, writing group. Their help and perspective on each revision letter I've received has really helped me think about the criticisms on my work from a lot of different angles.
Revisions are part of writing. Taking criticism is part of writing. And if we can embrace it, I truly believe that's when we can be better.
You may love romance, and within romance there are a lot of different categories and subgenres. So where to go from there?
When I went on my hunt to decide what to write, I selected category romance for a very simple reason at first. Harlequin accepted unagented, unsolicited submissions. There was no way I was going to be able to get an agent, and who was going to solicit me? From there, I selected my favorite imprint, Present/Modern to aim at. And that was the beginning.
I think it's important to have an idea of who you're writing for before you write it. It's all well and good to just start on a book idea you have in your head. (and who am I to say it won't be the next Twilight Saga?) But from a pragmatic standpoint, having an idea of where you want to send your manuscript, whether there's a market for your idea, and if there's a publisher who will look at your MS, is an important place to begin.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
What does that mean? It means that we creative types tend to let our creativity yank us around like it owns us! Well, at the risk of sounding like an ancient Kung-Fu sage, if we don't master our creativity, our creativity will become our master.
Our Creativity Master might tell us we can only write at 2AM, or when it's quiet, or that we are bored of our current WIP and want to start on a new one...that has zombies!
So is there hope?
Yes! There is!
It just takes a little bit of, oh man, do we creative types HATE this word...discipline. What does that mean? Sometimes, for me, it means making sure I write every day, even when I don't feel like it. Even when I only have five minutes, as long as I do it. And yes, sometimes I have to do it when the creative juices aren't flowing so much and it means I get two pages in an hour instead of six, but it's been a (here's that word again!) very worthwhile discipline for me over the past year and a half.
It can also mean finishing a manuscript that may have lost its bright, shiny lustre in the face of a brand new SHINIER idea. My solution to this, not a unique one by any stretch, is to create a little file dedicated to my new idea, a little one page write up, and then I save it and leave it alone until I'm done with my current MS.
I love to write, but I'm not in it solely for the enjoyment, I want to make it a job, and with that in mind I've set out to treat it like a job. I think if the aim is publication, that level of practical thinking has to come in somewhere.
Next up, I'll talk a little bit about picking a market to write for! (yay)
Friday, October 2, 2009
The Ruthless Greek's Virgin Princess, by Trish Morey-
Great book. It opens in a very unexpected way and it just keeps you hooked from there. For you writers out there, I think it's a very good example of internal conflict.
It makes the most of the emotional baggage the hero and heroine have, and of their conflicting emotions for each other. They have a lot of passion/love/resentment that has had thirteen years to simmer, and when they meet again at the heroine's brother's wedding, it's pretty explosive!
The Sicilian's Baby Bargain, by Penny Jordan
Wow! An alpha hero with a real sense of honor! His desire really was the best interest of the heroine, although lust might have clouded his judgment at times...It was nice to see his genuine caring for her, and even nicer to watch his feelings strengthen, and to see the two of them develop real love and trust.
His Lady Mistress, Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride, A Compromised Lady, by Elizabeth Rolls
I loved all three of these books. Great love stories that really had a lot to say about the constraints society put on women at the time (kind of Jane Austen era) Witty dialogue, great description, very likeable characters. A Compromised Lady is a little darker because of its subject matter, but I think I liked it even more for that reason. The hero was just wonderful. Actually, all of the heroes were! Men that any woman would be lucky to have, and that makes for a good read.
The Twilight Saga
I resisted reading these for a long time. Vampires. Ugh. Teen angst. Double ugh. And then I read them. All of them. In three days. I loved this series. It was compelling and moving and just really, really good.
I expected it to be really dark, but it really wasn't. And truly, I enjoyed the underlying theme of abstinence. Kind of refreshing in the world of Gossip Girl and pop-culture phenoms of that nature, that there was a series of books, a popular series, that glorified self-control and showed that a guy who is willing to wait for you is darn romantic.