Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dead Zones

It's been a very busy week. Emergency doctor appointments and ultrasounds and vaccinations and the usual demands of catering to two very high energy little boys, both of whom are still in diapers. Not to mention the cooking and the cleaning that comes with being a little (nesting!) house wife.

Combined with the above distractions I have reached a very slow point in my WIP. It's an unfortunate phenomenon that happens to me. I have vision for where I want to go, it all went good up to this point, but it seems like at about 20K words I can get a little lost for what needs to happen NOW. I can't wait for the scene that I've envisioned for three scenes from now, but I just don't know how to connect the dots and get there! In short, I have fallen into a dead zone.

So I've been slowwwwwly creeping that word count up. What do I write when I don't know what to write? Oh, it varies. But I do try to write something. One of my dear crit group friends said 'you can't edit a blank page' and she's very right. I could sit there and stare at the screen, waiting for inspiration, or I could just blaze past this point by writing what seems best. I can always go fix it later (as you remember from my earlier posts, I have no issue at this point with completely erasing mass chunks of MS if need be) and sometimes some of the best little moments come about between my h and H when I'm just 'writing blind'.

Now, there's a method to my madness (oh how often I claim that!) I try to think 'what does their relationship need?' Does it need more conflict? More sexual tension? Or do they need a moment of calm, maybe even some camaraderie. Above all else, I want my reader to know that the h and H are meant to be with each other, and only each other. So in order to answer the question 'why her/him?' I do try to give them a well rounded relationship.

So in these moments, that aren't so driven by events and plot, my characters can have their moments together. Granted, sometimes they end up slow and rambling, but again, I can cut it later. But it also gives some really good character building, relationship building opportunities.

Even though the 'slow times' still frustrate me, I'm past the point of fighting against them. I just try to make them work for me, rather than against me.

So, what do you do when you reach slow points? (or do you 'real' plotters never have those?)


Friday, October 23, 2009

Plotter? Pantser? None of the Above?

If there's one thing I've learned over the last year it's that there are an infinite number of ways to approach writing. There's plotting, there's pantsing and there's all the wonderful methods in between and somewhere way off in left field.

Now, I think 'the process' is such a nebulous thing that it can be hard to explain, especially since it rarely makes complete sense even in my own mind. But I'll give it a shot.

I think I'm a weird sort of plotter hybrid. The beginnings of each MS start out differently. Sometimes it's a character that sticks in my mind and I build an MS around him or her. Sometimes I think 'what if a very uptight corporate woman met an equally driven playboy and they had to get married?' and build characters and reasoning from there. In the case of this last MS, I decided I wanted to do another marriage of convenience, because they're about my favorite plot line, so I spent some time thinking of characters and situations and stuck with the one I was able to imagine most clearly.

So from the little seeds of an idea I created my characters, Sabrina and Cade for this MS, and I started thinking about who they were, why they were that way, and what would ultimately cause conflict between them. What's going to stop them from just confession true love when it's clear they're right for each other? And how are they going to overcome it?

So after I had their internal conflict and their back story I thought, okay, now how can I throw them together. I was aiming for MOC with this one and after I came up with the reasons they would both agree to it I started thinking of what journey they needed to take.

I know their issues so the next step is to figure out what they need to grow. I always try to think of what someone with their particular set of conflicts would need to overcome in order to fall in love. What do they need to get from each other? What do they need to find on their own? So, I don't know that I plot events as much as 'milestones' I feel my characters need to reach inside so that they can grow.

Then of course I like to have my 'black moment' planned, and then a rough idea of the resolution. Rarely do I write any of this down, but I actually did this time.

However, I reserve the right to change whatever I want during the writing process, or get rid of an element I see isn't working.
So I guess I plot to give myself a direction, and then I pants as needed. :-)

What's your method for crafting a story?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Another question for you writers out there! How do you do your research?

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

Recommended Reads Again!!

The Wild series, By Stacey Kayne

I enjoyed all three of these books immensely. A great Western continuity. They take place in Wyoming in the late eighteen hundreds and feature twin brothers Tucker and Chance Morgan, and in the third book, their brother in law Garret Daines.

Mustang Wild

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).

After her father dies she finds herself accidentally married to Tucker Morgan, the man who owns the land her father promised to her. A lot hinges on them getting an annulment, but they have a very hard time fighting their attraction for each other.

It was a lot of fun to see Skylar experience being treated like a woman for the first time. She'd never been given compliments or any kind of special care, and it made her relationship with Tucker all the more special.

Maverick Wild

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.

Cora has run away to Wyoming to find her stepbrothers, the only real family she has. Her mother has abused her horribly and tried to trap her into a marriage she doesn't want by allowing a man to assault her. Chance was the best person in her childhood, so she seeks him out when she needs a place to go.

Their love story was very sweet, and appropriate considering everything poor Cora had been through. I love the lost childhood love aspect of it too.

Mountain Wild

This book takes place quite a few years later. Garret is only thirteen at the beginning of the series, and he's twenty three in this book.

After being trapped in a snow storm he's rescued by a reclusive woman who lives in the mountains that everyone in town knows as Mad Mag.

Maggie has spent her life avoiding people and living in fear, but Garret gets under her skin in a way no one else ever has. Much like with Skylar in the first book, Maggie has never known any kind of tenderness in her life, not since the death of her father.

Garret was a unique hero, not afraid to proclaim his feelings and show some real tenderness, while Maggie was much more cagey and fearful than your average heroine. And interesting role reversal that I really enjoyed.

Can't recommend these books enough. They really were wonderful. A great example of what a Western romance should be. I'll definitely be looking for more from Stacey Kayne.

Happy reading!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

All the News That's Fit to Print

Big doings going on over here this week! I could do with a little less excitement in all honesty.

The abbreviated version: I put in a new kitchen and bathroom floor, which I think for one little (hahaha) pregnant woman was quite a task. Then, a couple days after that, my youngest son, with the aid of my oldest son, escaped. After much running around, crying hysterically and calling emergency services, we found him safe and unharmed and just a little annoyed by how his mother clung to him and cried. So, thank God we have him back safe and sound. There really are no words to express my thankfulness. Glad God covers where I fall short.

The good news, my editor contacted me! It's been fourteen weeks since I submitted the latest version of my full, and while there's no news on that score, she's offered to look at my next MS should it not work out with this one, which is a huge, huge happy thing to me. No more slush!

Also, I started a new MS. I like to have a project going at all times and I just finished a revision round on the MS I'll be submitting next, so I'm letting it rest while I work on this new project. I'm very excited about it. The characters are really fun and I did myself a favor, for once, and focused on the internal conflict as I was plotting this story. So, while I don't know for sure what all actual 'events' I want to have happen, I know the essential conflict of the characters and what they need to overcome and work through before they get their HEA. And the NEED their HEA.

I'm moving a little slower than I usually do, I blame the stress, but I've been enjoying the process and am hoping to make some serious progress today, children willing.

Have a blessed week everyone!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Internal Conflict, A Subject on Which I am No Expert

So I'm working very hard on this internal conflict thing, something I hadn't given a lot of thought to prior to submitting my first MS to M&B.

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!'
'oh, okay!'

The end.

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

Interracial Romance

Yes, it's true, that technically more than half of all Harlequin romances are interracial. The men are typically dark skinned, Italian, Arabic, Greek, and most recently, Indian, while the heroine is usually the pale, English rose type. Not only do the hero and heroine have different skin colors, they are also typically from different cultures and backgrounds.

There is, however, only one from category romance that I know of where there was an interracial relationship between a white and African American hero and heroine. (Taking Care of Business, by Brenda Jackson) The focus of the book was largely on the heroine, who was black, dealing with dating a white man.

This is a point of interest to me because, for those of you who don't know, I myself am married to a very handsome African/Italian/Czech man. :-) And while I can, and do, enjoy a romance with people of any ethnic background at the center of it, sometimes I want to read one that 'represents' my relationship.

So here's the thing though, what I really want is to read a romance with an interracial relationship where the races of the hero and heroine aren't at the center of it. Why? Because it's not at the center of my relationship. My husband and I do not have the same skin color, but that's not the sum total of our marriage, or even any part of it at all.

Not that we've never experienced discrimination based on the fact that he's black and I'm white, but it's been very rare, and when we met and fell in love, race never came into it for the two of us.

I have written an MS, aimed at Presents, but not submitted yet, where the hero is based off of my husband and is half African American. It is not an issue in their relationship.

So here's a question: Are people ready for that? Can it really be presented as a non-issue in a book? What are your thoughts on an interracial couple in a romance?

(yes, that is a picture from my wedding)

I Love Romance

My name is Maisey Yates and I love to read romances. I am not ashamed. I love the passion, the intensity, the sensuality, the happily ever after that I know will be waiting for me on the last page.

Keep your existential works with two men wandering in the desert discussing the futility of life. I want to see the beauty in life. I want to see two people overcome the odds and find one of life's greatest gifts: love.

The Cowboy and the Well-Bred Lady forced to marry for to complete the terms of a will, the Italian Billionaire and The Waitress dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, two friends seeing each other in a new light. I love it all.

Predictable? Sure. But if it wasn't predictable, that means it ended wrong. Unrealistic? I don't think so. Amplified? Maybe. But to me, it's all still totally relatable.
Whenever I read a good romance it reminds me of how special it is to be married to that one wonderful man who takes your breath away. No, my husband isn't an Italian billionaire, but he's that one man for me, the lifetime love. A good romance novel reminds you of why that's such an amazing find.
I can leave reality and tragedy on the six 'o clock news. Give me love, give me romance, give me passion, and a Sheikh and his Forbidden Virgin!

Friday, October 9, 2009


For me, inspiration can come from a lot of different things. A song that I connect with can establish the whole mood or concept of a manuscript, a movie with an element I want to tweak can do it too. Sometimes a character just pops into my head and their story just sort of fills itself in.

So what inspires all of my fellow writers out there?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Rancher's Convenient Mistress Exerpt First Draft

Chapter One

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

More Recommended Reads!

The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers

Some of the best books I've read in my life. Passion, romance, gladiators, and amazing faith set against the backdrop of ancient Rome. These books follow Hadassah, a Jewish slave brought to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem, Marcus, the son of the family who buys her and Atretes a Germanic warrior enslaved by the Romans and trained to fight in the arena.

Marcus and Hadassah and their forbidden love are central to the story in the first two books, as is Hadassah's quest to remain faithful and be a witness for Christ to those around her, even though her faith could cost her not only the man she loves, but her life.

Book two, An Echo in the Darkness (my favorite) is mainly in Marcus's POV and focuses on his intense quest for truth, and for his lost love.

Atretes is introduced in book one, A Voice in the Wind, and returns as the main focus in Sure as the Dawn, by which time he's earned his freedom and is making a return to Germany, along with his newly discovered son and the woman who has come to care for him as her own.

Seriously life changing and moving books. I cannot recommend these highly enough!

The Desert King's Bejewelled Bride by Sabrina Philips (Harlequin Mills & Boon Presents/Modern)

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

Revisions, Revisions!

I'm a pro at revisions by now. Not so much at getting them done right the first time, or fifth time, but at receiving revision letters. And, as hard as it can be sometimes, it has been a valuable experience for me as a writer.

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.


What to Write?

The answer to this question can be pretty basic. Write what you like, write what you like to read. That's true, to an extent.

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

Writing From a *gasp* Practical Standpoint

Writers. We're an interesting bunch of people. I took creative writing in college and was exposed to an interesting group. More than half of the class of thirty, including myself, were left handed. Lefties are notoriously scattered and a little on the 'eccentric' side of things. Again, being a lefty, I'm familiar. And if you're not left handed, well, having the creative mindset is sort of like being honorarily left handed.

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

Recommended Reads

Harlequin Presents/Modern

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.

Harlequin Historical

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.

Single Title

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.

The Journey to far.

I've always wanted to be a writer. I've been writing short stories ever since I learned the fine art of writing dialogue when I was in the second grade. However, I had a serious aversion to finishing anything. There were countless beginnings and zero endings, because a part of me knew that if I ever finished anything I would need to submit it to a publisher. And if I did that, I might get *gasp* rejected. Combined with my awful fear of failing, was the fact that I had no idea what it was I wanted to write.

After college came marriage, shortly followed by babies, and I didn't give writing a lot of thought. I dabbled in it, started a fantasy epic that I think is all of ten pages long, and otherwise confined my characters to my mind.

Then I picked up my first Harlequin Romance when I was twenty and pregnant with my second son. And I knew what I would write, if I could ever get over the fear of being rejected. In an author forward in one of the books, the author said she knew she was supposed to be a writer when she discovered that it wasn't normal to create stories in your head. And I thought, "It's not?!" And then I thought maybe it was time to give this writing thing a more serious try and stop being afraid of *gulp* laying my soul bare before editors who would no doubt tear my work apart with their mighty red pen.

I went to Harlequin's website and found that they took un-agented submissions, then I saw that they were doing a contest for the Presents line called Instant Seduction, which required a first chapter and a synopsis.

Long story short, I tanked in the comp. Didn't get any feedback. And I was pretty sad about it. But, while I had been waiting for the contest results, I'd gone ahead and started a manuscript to submit through the conventional channels, and I felt committed to it. And, I had now gone through a form of rejection and, hey, I wasn't dead!

So, I finished up all fifty-thousand words of my manuscript and sent the first three chapter of to the M&B office in Richmond, a long way off from the wilds of Southern Oregon.

The ensuing wait was a lot longer than I had imagined, but seven months after sending my partial, I received a revision letter. I revised my chapters and resent them. Then, I received a request for my full MS. I literally could not speak (and for those that know me, that's pretty crazy) for a full five minutes after receiving that letter.

I got my full MS in the post and settled in for a long wait. But then, three weeks letter, I had an email in my inbox from an editor at Mills and Boon asking for more revisions. More speechlessness ensued. I did the revisions and sent it back, and another four weeks later, received a request for further revisions, a rewrite of the last half.

Doing a rewrite was an interesting experience, and I think it's gone a long way in making me a better writer. I had to ruthlessly delete twenty five thousand words and just go from there, re-imagine what I had already done. It was a lot of work, but in the end, I feel that the editor really dragged something much better out of me, and the finished product is much better than what I had done on my own.

It has been twelve weeks since I finished up that rewrite and resubmitted it, and I'm going on a year and a half working on this MS.

It's been the most amazing experience, and I have learned so much. And all I had to to do was get over my fear of rejection and just finish something! I could still be rejected, that possibility is very real, but I'm not afraid of it in the same way that I was.

In fact, I'm busily preparing another MS, readying it for submission.

The moral of that story is that no one but me, and my fears, held me back for all that time. And I think that can be very true of a lot of writers. So get out there and write, then submit!