Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not Such A HEA

HEA.  Just in case you're a newbie romance writer/reader or you've stumbled on this blog by accident whilst looking for......well, whatever you were looking for:  HEA is an acronym for Happily Ever After.

Or, in my case, Hightened Ending Anxiety.

See I've reached the last chapter in my ms (that's manuscript not the trendy alternative to Miss or Mrs) and I can't come up with an appropriate ending.

I can think of lots of cheesy ones - and don't get me wrong I've read cheesy endings that were splendiferous and just SO appropriate that you couldn't really want for a different one - but none of those corny closures really fit.

My heroine is, well my Hero captures her quite well when he tells her that "a high-strung, hot blooded, thin-skinned cactus would be less prickly" than her.  So a trip down the aisle impersonated a meringue is just not right.

Now don't get me wrong - my heroine wants the Hero (and not just in a biblical sense - plus she's already had him like that).  No, she wants the whole shebang.  The white picket fence, 2.4 children and the dog but there are a few things she wants to do first.


Holy Lightbulbs Batman, I think I've just had a breakthrough!

Okay, I'll be back.


After I've written my last chapter.

Probably to whine about rewriting and polishing etc.

Thank you for listening.

I may, or may not, be the kind of person who has to talk through, or in this case, write through my issues to be able to understand them better.  But hey, isn't that what a Blog is all about?!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Was I Thinking?

There are times when it's so easy to get ahead of yourself.  I like to think of myself as the kind of gal who embraces whatever life throws at me.  Seeing opportunities instead of impediments and that kind of thing.  But there comes a time when you have to slow down and realise that saying no is actually the smart thing to do.

And so it goes with my entry to the SYTYCW competition.

I have enjoyed the rollercoaster ride of New Voices for the last few years and although I had (sensibly) decided not to enter, once I laid eyes on that website with its oh so tempting calendar, something inside started jumping up and down and squealing for all it was worth.  I find all writing competitions exciting and it was this overwhelming excitement that made me think entering was a good idea.

Damn you, excitement!

But I've had a few days to think about it and I have reverted to my original decision.  No comp for me this year.  I'm targetted slush piles instead.  So this will be me:

Meditating while I finish my ms and revise and edit and proof and polish.  And then when its ready, I'll unleash the squealing jumping fruitcake :)

In the meantime I will read all the entries and learn from them.  Good luck to all the entrants :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

OCD = Obsessive Competition Disorder

I said I wouldn't do it.

I hadn't planned on it. 

In fact I had planned NOT to do it.

But I just can't help myself.  And now I'm doing the mad rush to finish and polish my ms to submit for the So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) competition.

Hence my lack of posts.  Well it's not the only reason I haven't been posting.  I mean the mad passionate affair with Gerard Butler has taken up a little of my time but he's almost impossible to say no to.......... and then I woke up :)

I had a good heart to heart with Sandy and she slapped me around a bit and told me to go for it, so I am.  She's hard to argue with too, y'know.

Sandy mid-motivation speech

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chapter Interruptus

There I was, typing away happily, writing Chapter Six.  Which is a pretty important chapter because although my Hero and Heroine have managed to get all hot and steamy on a few occasions, Chapter Six is where it all happens.

You know?  It.  The "it".  Yes *whispers* sex.

And like I said before, I was on a roll.  Things were heating up very nicely and then WHAM, BAM, KAPOW.  It happened.

No, not that it.  A different it.  A bad it.

Chapter Interruptus.

No matter how hard I try, Life just refuses to be put on hold and quite frequently insists on pushing its way in on my writing time.  So I had to stop writing.  Mid bowm chicka bowm bowm and that kinda left me feeling a little disorientated.

But that's not the worst part.  The worst part is now I've tried three times to pick up from where I left off and ..........I can't.  Talk about performance anxiety.

My Hero and Heroine have been left in a position that I reckon would become physcially uncomfortable in about 5 mins and just plain awkward uncomfortable - on account of no one actually doing anything - in about 1.5 mins.  Think about it folks: things between you and your pelvic affiliate have progressed way past the slow waltz section of the mattress dance and *cue screeching brakes sound effect* someone yells "Freeze!"  How long do you think you could hold it?

Hmmm, that's what I thought too.

But I have been thinking about possible solutions:
1. Rewrite the whole scene.  Not really an option because I don't want my poor little brain to shift out of 'writing' mode into 'rewriting' mode.
2. Watching me some sexy movies.  Distinct possibility.  Please note: I said sexy not adult.
3. Listen to some sexy music.  Tried this a few times.  Mr Ne-Yo - ohmigoodnesslordyme.  Yes well it sort of worked except that I ended up thinking of a new story which I have sworn not to follow up until I have finished this one.  Actually make that two stories.  Bad Ne-Yo.  Bad.  Bad.  Bad.
4. Psych myself into it.  Also known as sucking it up and just doing it.  Think this is going to be my only real option.  If it sounds a little disjointed or not so sexy when I read it back, then I will do my best to smooth it all out and spice it up.

Dare I ask, what do you do when you get stuck writing mid Wild Thang?  While I wait for your sage advice, Sandy and I will listen to Ne-Yo.  Just a little bit.  Promise.

Ohmigoodnesslordyme indeed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm A Plotter.....Aren't I?

I like to think of myself as semi-organised. 

I'm prepared for all eventualities at picnics.  I have back up plans for back up plans on holidays.  My kitchen is stocked with many and varied condiments, ingredients and enough cake tine/baking dishes to make Wilton's green with envy - all just in case I'm taken by the urge to cook 'something'.

I have always taken the same approach to writing.  I write out a brief synopsis of the story with all the major plot points and character names and then I expand on that to include all the little odd quirks that have come to me when I've been thinking about the story.  Then I sit down to write.

But this time, it was different.  I got the idea for the story but just a rough idea and instead of going through my normal process, I just started writing.  In part I'm blaming Jessica Hart (whose blog I just love) because she's published squillions of books but is so down to earth and I love how she refers to her first draft as the Shitty First Draft (SFD) and the second as the Shitty Second Draft (SSD).  The rest of the blame lies squarely on the head of Jackie Ashenden because after selling her first, second, third and fourth book in like 20 seconds, she has been encouraging me (yes, she does write her blog just for me) to be true to my own voice and writing for myself and not worrying about craft to the point where it stifles my voice.

So you see, it's not my fault at all!

With all that extremely good advice and permission to throw off the constraints of writing the perfect first draft, I may have gotten a little ahead of myself, and I just dove in.  I usually find that I can write the first three chapters without any problem, but then I start to get bogged down and by the time I reach chapter six, I'm happy to be lured off to a new project ...... *oooh look a new Hero*  I'm such a floozy.

But not with this ms.  I'm up to chapter six and it's just rolling along.  As I'm writing, what happens next just pops into my head and I end up doing my best stunned mullet impersonation and muttering: "why not?"  Miraculously, I haven't been bogged yet.  I mean I'm not kidding myself, it truly is a SFD (god bless you, Jessica). 

It remains to be seen if this process is going to work for me but I'm going with it.

My only problem is now when one of my blogger gurus ask me if I'm a plotter or a pantser, I have no idea what to reply.  A plottser?  A pantter?

Maybe I'll just reply:  I'm a SFDer and let it go at that.

Friday, July 6, 2012

So You Think You Can Write

I first started entering category romance competitions in 2009 (gah it seems so long ago but when you write it down it's like nothing!) with the I Heart Presents Competition.

Which then morphed into the New Voices Comp in 2010 and 2011.

To save you from scrolling through my archives: I didn't do so well.

Harlequin has another competition called So You Think You Can Write.  I believe it started in 2010.  I'm a little hazy on the rules for the last two years competition (mainly because I can't locate them anywhere on the net?) and this year's competition rules have yet to be posted so I can't comment on them either.  But here's what I do know:
  • For this year's comp, you need to have a completed manuscript
  • It starts in September this year (as opposed to Nov in the last two years) which is when New Voices started in 2011 and 2010
  • To enter you need to submit a first chapter and a 100 word pitch.
  • There will be an online vote (similar to New Voices) and 25 writers will be selected 
  • There will be an additional 3 wildcard entries selected by Harlequin
  • Those 28 writers will then need to submit their completed manuscripts
  • 3 Finalists will be chosen by Harlequin and another online vote will be held and a winner announced
Here's what else I know:
  • SERIOUSLY doubt I will be entering.
Why?  Because I doubt I will have a manuscript edited to the point where I would be happy to enter it into a competition of this scale.  Last year New Voices had 1084 entries of first chapters and I know lots of those who entered had only written that first chapter - waiting to see if they got anywhere before committing the time and energy to writing more of what could possibly be, a lost cause.  I took my sweet time in writing and then polishing to the point of wearing out a polishing rag and using a whole tin of Writer's Polish before I submitted to NV.  Not that it did me any good anyway.  But I'm not sure I have enough time to do the same for SYTYCW.

I will, however, be (hopefully) taking part in as many of the online conference events as I can.  These are immensely valuable and what's not to love about a conference you can attend in your pjs?

So in honor of the upcoming event and because I haven't treated y'all to a shoe experience in a LOOOO-OOOOONG while, here is what I will be sporting to the conference:

I'm too tall to do cute so I have to opt for stylish and Ugg boots just don't make the cut.  The rest of me might look like hell but my shoes will be heavenly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pride Goeth Before The Fall

Oh I was so cocky.  So proud of myself and I had to brag, didn't I?  I had to gloat and blow my own trumpet.  Well my friends, take heed.  For I have been struck low.  Brought down by a lurgy of abombinble sneezes, hideous coughing, incessant nose dribbling, and cursed fever with chills.

All in all, I'm a sick little bunny.

And while yesterday I was barely able to lift my head off the pillow, today I am feeling a little better, so I suppose it's not quite the end of the world.

However my word count has suffered.  I got nothing written yesterday and I did try today but it all came out in gibberish so I am giving it up as a bad cause and hoping that tomorrow I will be better enough that I can play catch up.  I'm not sure I'll be able to do 3000+ but if I do a bit over 1500 tomorrow and the same the day after I'll be back on track.

But look who I have to look after me

Is there anything that woman can't do?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey

I'm a firm believer that getting quick wins on the board is a huge motivational force.

So here I am gloating that I have been able to stick to my goal of 1000+ words a day since Monday.  In the spirit of putting it all out there, I finished my post on Monday afternoon and thought to myself, I'll start that goal tomorrow but then I slapped myself around a bit (a strange habit I admit) and sternly said to myself: Self that is the Old Elissa talking, the New Elissa will start her goal TODAY!

And I did.

Despite my brain being three quarters fried from having to be so creative writing my blog post and it being late and me being in the middle of yet another fabulous Austen fan fiction novel as well as halfway through knitting a cardigan, I decided I would write my 1000+ words. right. then.

And what's more I have maintained my momentum.

Okay so it's cheating a little because it's the beginning of a book and that's the bit for me that always goes fast - it's the middle and the end that drag on for eternity - for me anyway!

But we'll keep slogging way, won't we Sandy?  Btw I've adopted Sandy as my silent sponsor through this process.  She's going to see me through it, right Sandy?  Because who's your new bestie?

That's right.  Me.

Right back atchya ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Goal, Motivation, Conflict

This is a writer's blog so I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking, with that title, this post is all about the GMC of my characters.  Sorry folks.  This is all about me.

Autumn Macarthur has been writing some really honest, gritty posts lately about her writing that have really resonated with me.  I first 'met' Autumn (or Jane) back in 2009 at my first Harlequin competition.  Back then it was the Presents competition (now it's called New Voices) and I noticed her comments in the chat room - along with another voice belonging to Ms Maisey Yates.  I started following both their blogs and to cut a long story short, learned heaps.

Of Autumn's recent blog posts the one that really struck a chord was this post about starting a new story and being committed to finishing it.  As I read, I found myself nodding and many times thinking "I do that, too!"

If you've ever done a Myers-Briggs, DISC or Blebin personality indicator type test, you'll understand when I say that I'm not a finisher.  I'm a starter.  And I'm not the only one.  According to lots of people, it's the creative person's disease.  New ideas or projects or storylines beckon and rather than asserting the will power to finish what we've started, we succumb to the siren song of something new.

So I decided to take a leaf out of Autumn's book (she's applying the rules of weight loss to the rules of writing), I'm going to apply the GMC process to myself - in the hope that once it's up there that I'll actually stick to it.

Just as an aside: if you're an agent or a publishing company and you're reading this and thinking to yourself: "ain't no way I'm signing up this loony chick who has as good as admitted she can't finish anything", you should also know that I have an amazing stubborn streak which I have learned to use for the forces of good and which I plan to apply from here on in with regard to my writing - just you watch and see!

Okay so first up is Goal.  What is my goal?  Now I'm tempted to answer: to be published but I think that's far too wishy washy and big picture.  I need to drill down to the nitty gritty, get serious about looking at steps involved in reaching the Ultimate Goal.  So let's itemise the Interim Goals:
1. Decide on one story idea for the project
2. Write a complete full first draft
3. Edit, proof and polish first draft
4. Submit

Sounds simple enought doesn't it?  But I tend to be lured away somewhere around step two.  I mean I have finished a few but I've been so overwhelmed by the idea of rewriting that those manuscripts are kicking their heels somewhere in cyberland.

The next part of the approach is: Motivation. Why do I want this goal? Obviously whatever I'm using to motivate myself at this point in time isn't working.

SCENE: On the Dr Phil talk show.
Me: Oh Dr Phil!  I need your help!  I can't finish my manuscripts!
Dr Phil: What are you using as motivation?
Me: Moti-what?  Oh! Wait!  Does chocolate count?
Dr Phil: I see.  Now let me ask you: how's that workin' for ya?

I think my Motivation is tied up with my Conflict.  Which is a good thing.  Motivation - why do I want to be published/finish a manuscript/submit?  Answer: writing is an essential part of my life, of who I am.  I dream story lines and plots.  I write dialogue while I'm doing housework.  I eavesdrop in public spaces to improve my characters.  I can't not write.  And (here's the embarassingly honest bit) I want to see my name on a book cover.  I want to tell people I'm a writer and be able to back that statement up with the name of my book and publisher and Amazon rating.  I want to have achieved something in the literary world - not on the scale of Jane Austen or Dickens (but if that happened that would be gushworthy amazing) but I want to accomplish a level of respectability for my writing.  Also I'm a tad competitive.

Which leaves us with Conflict.  What stands in my way?  Why can't I have what I want?  Answer: I guess I'm scared.  Scared that I'm not as talented as I'd like to think I am.  Scared of the rejection which I know is part of the business and which I try and fool myself into thinking won't hurt but each time I don't win a competition or even come close, does hurt.  Scared that if I do accomplish my goal, that people will read my work and ohmygoodnesswhatwilltheythink!!!!  What if they really don't like it and say something mean and then the people who took the chance on publishing me, start thinking the same way and I'm publically humiliated on an epic scale and Sandra Bullock won't want to be my bestie?  Okay that last bit was maybe a little over the top.  I mean why wouldn't Sandy want to be my BFF?

In a book, my character would have to undergo a fair amount of personal growth to overcome the Conflict, harness the correct Motivation and reach the Goal.  To overcome my Conflict, I guess I'm just going to have to suck it up.  My fears are probably the same as any sane, reasonable person, right?  I mean no one likes to be not liked do they?  And I do have some pretty fabulous people in my life who like me just fine.  I even know one or two online who have said some really lovely things about both me and my writing.  SOLUTION: Focus on the people who really matter.  Accept that not everyone will like me or my writing and that's fine.  Organise another girly night with Sandy to buck up my self-confidence.  Maybe she could bring along Keanu Reeves.  He would do a LOT for my self confidence.

Motivation - I'm going to try self imposed deadlines.  According to the movie Enid Blyton, she wrote 6000 words a day.  Jessica Hart has just set herself a new regime and is committed to writing 3000 words a day.  So I'm going to set myself a target of 1000+ a day.  Even if it's 1001.  Which means, in 60 days I should have a first draft.  It may be a little more than 60 days taking into account that my story may run more than 60K (I am prone to rattle on a little) which gives me a date of 20 August as a rough deadline.  I'll see how this tactic works before trying a reward system - I'm a sucker for rewarding myself even if it because I almost thought about achieving what I wanted to do.  So I guess that just means I suck huh?

I will report back here every few days or so on my progress.  I have my motivation for reaching Interim Goals 1 & 2. But I suspect I may have to pull out the big guns for 3 & 4.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Sandy, pour me another White Cosmo, I'm about to write a book!
Just so you know, she's laughing WITH me.  WITH me, people.  WITH me.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Is Me: Being Creative

I've been reading lots of blogs and it seems my lack of blogging is not something unusual.  It would seem that this is the season for being MIB (no, not Men In Black - Missing In Blogdom).

Rather than regale y'all with tales of how pathetic I am in not being able to stick to my 'new' blogging schedule (even if it was because I was writing LOTS), I am, instead, going to do what I supposedly do best: be creative.

So here (a la David Letterman) are the Top 10 Reasons Why I Haven't Been Blogging:

10.  Took time off to choreograph Britney Spears' comeback tour;

9. Launched my own perfume/lingerie/make-up line;

8. Emergency shoe shopping with Lady Gaga;

7. Starred in a Bollywood musical;

6.  Filmed my own cooking show;

5.  Volunteered as George Clooney's voice coach for a role as an Aussie in an upcoming movie;

4.  Employed by Brangelina as their Wedding Coordinator (and due to the confidentiality agreement, that's all I can say.  Really.  Please don't ask for any more details);

3.  Hosted Intervention # 4,832 for Lindsay Lohan - she didn't turn up but then again she never does and it turned out to be quite a shindig anyway!

2.  Was Jessica Simpson's doula;

1.  Gerard Butler.  (I don't really need to say any more do I?)

Rest assured I have sent out a mass text to all my A-lister chums and let them know that I'm not available for anything more than a quick cuppa, a couple of texts or a brief skype because I really have to get back into blogging.

I'm sure they'll understand.

Except you, Gerard.  For you, I'm always available.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If You're Sexy And You Know It....

put your hands up in the air.

Or as Chris Brown sings it: put your handz up inda air.

Or maybe Pitbull (oh how his mother must just love hearing her boy being called that) advising: If you're sexy and you know it, clap your hands.

Akon must have liked it because he used the exact same line in one of his songs: If you're sexy and you know it, clap your hands

Or perhaps Jesse McCartney when he sang: you're sexy and you know it, know it.

And I can't leave out LMAO's: I'm sexy and I know it ....................................
(you know - going from second person singular to first person singular -  just to spice it up y'all)

As well as whoever else has decided recently that this line rocks and included it in their pop ballad because I'm sure I've missed a few.  Whatever.  I wanted to thank all of you.  Because now I can sashay into any nightclub, whisper a request in my friendly DJ's ear and instantly know who the sexy people are.

The ones with their hands up.


But what makes sexy?  I'm not sure if Mr Brown urged me to put my hands up if I knew I was sexy I would actually feel comfortable doing that.  Well not Mr Brown personally, because like I wouldn't even let him buy me a drink.  But that's not the point.  The point is: how do you know when you are sexy?  What's the criteria?

Is it:
a) someone (not drunk or under the influence of any substance that would impair their eyesight) has in the recent, or not so recent, past called you sexy?
b) when you look in the mirror the only adjective that could possible work is: sexy? 
c) you physically resemble a well-known, media certified sexy person ie you look like Megan Gale?
d) you are Megan Gale? or
e) you have that 'it' factor thing going on?

I like that old adage: Beauty is in the eyes of the beer-holder beholder.  And I kinda think that sexy falls into the same category.  You know, each to their own.  Personally, I find hairy men sexy as hell.  Not the scary kind of hairy like this:
That's just not right.

No I mean the sexy kind of hairy, like this:

And may I jsut add a few other names to the list:
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Jude Law
  • Armie Hammer
But I know not every woman shares my opinion (otherwise we wouldn't have seen a spate of gloriously hairy men shaving their chests......Reminder to self: google 'celebrity chest shaver' as a career).

So, if sexy is subjective, how do you write a sexy character that will appeal to a majority of readers?  Or is it enough to ensure that your character is found sexy by their patnering protagonist?

Whatever the answer, maybe next time I'm gettin' down with my bad self at 'the club' and Mr Brown encouarages the sexy people to reach for the sky - maybe I'll hedge my bets and just put one hand up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Adaptations - Part I

With all the hoopla about The Hunger Games on just about everyone's blogs at the moment, I got to thinking about other books that had been adapted into films.

There are two camps: those who like adaptations and those who do not (and of course to make things even more confusing, those who do not do so because they either a) prefer the book or b) prefer the film).  Me?  I'm a take it as it comes sorta gal.  I've seen some film adaptations that left me feeling flat, some that made me want to go back and read the book again, and still others that made me promise myself I would always watch the film and not bother with the book again.

Want a great ice breaker/conversation starter?  Try these: "The original Star Wars films were much better than the second lot."  Not a science fiction fan?  Rouse a romance aficionado's passions by stating: "Keira Knightley was by far a much better Elizabeth Bennett than Jennifer Ehle."  Or you could try: "The Lord of the Rings films were much better than the books."  I'm sure you can think of many other book to film adaptations or even stage to screen adaptations that stir up vehement responses from friends or family.

But what I wonder is this: what about the films that were written first as a screenplay?  Does anyone know of films that have been adapted into books?  I know a few films that I would love to read as a book.  Amelie being the first that leaps to mind.  Or Sleepless In Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Mrs Brown, As Good As It Gets, The Sixth Sense, Gosford Park, Pan's Labyrinth, even Knotting Hill - I'd be happy to sit down with a paperback copy of any of them.  But has it ever been done?  I found some evidence of TV series becoming novels but none of movies.

So what original screenplay would you like to transform into the written word?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Well Hello Groove Thang!

So I took my little ol' self off to the picture the-atre and saw myself a movie.  A movie that I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy because it had Ms Julia Roberts in it (which in itself is not a guarantee that it's going to be good - *cough*MonaLisaSmile*cough*) but this time she's in a romcom.  And I loves me a romcom.

Now Julia and I share a lot of things in common - one day I'll tell you all about it - but suffice to say when her jaw dropped when the lead male role swanned in sans shirt (thankyouverymuch), I was SOOOO there in the moment with her!

What movie?  What male lead, do I hear you eagerly whisper?  This one:

Playing the charming Prince Andrew Alcot in the movie Mirror, Mirror is Armie Hammer. Yes he is young.  Too young to even think about ....... well okay not too young to think about but I would definitely have to hand him back his hotel key (if you know what I mean). 

Some stats:
* he's 6 foot 5 inches tall.  For real.  198.5cm of manliness.
* he has a hairy chest and he's not afraid to use it.  In fact he actually refused to shave it for the movie and I, for one, am very grateful the young lad has principles.
* he has an incredibly deep voice.  You know the kind you can close your eyes and just listen to - for like, forever!
* he has sparkly blue eyes and perfect teeth and that mouth.......swoon!
* did I mention he's 6' 5"?  With a hairy chest?  And a deep voice?  Can anyone say perfect????

Any man who can look macho in a puffy-sleeved shirt, (as well as all the above positives) gets my vote of approval.  I know the movie has been panned by a lot of cynics critics, but honestly, I enjoyed it.  It's light hearted and cute and the colour is so unbelievably rich and gorgeous that you come out of the cinema thinking someone has tweaked the colour lever on real life - everything looks washed out until your poor brain adjusts.  And don't get me started on the costumes - I want every single one of Julia's gowns.  Of course I'd need a whole new wardrobe the size of my house to store them in, but hey: minor detail.

The movie did what I wanted it to: I emmerged, blinking rapidly, into the pallid real world with a big smile plastered on my face and my heart chock full of the kind of happiness only a fairy tale romcom can inspire.

It's amazing how the appearance of a Prince Shirtless Charming can help a gal get her groove thang back!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm Sorry, What Was Your Name?

A week ago I read an interesting post over on the Pink Heart Society's blog written by Scarlet Wilson (which by the way I think is a pretty awesome name for a heroine) entitled What's In A Name?

Which, as all good writing posts do, got me thinking. 

You see in the current WIP, my heroine goes by several different names.  Not versions of the same name eg Joanna is called Jo, Jody, Annie, Anna etc but by completely different names.  She's a girl with a bit of a coloured past and she has a very good reason for not wanting to use her real name.

Now Scarlet has explained in her article that some readers, won't like the name of your characters (reminds them of someone they don't like, sounds like someone they don't like, someone they don't like named their daughter that name etc).  And we all know that you can't please all the people all the time, but it did give me pause for thought.

But as I'm trying to be optomistic, I'm going to think about it this way: most heroines have one name and if your reader doesn't like that particular name, then you're sunk.  My way, if the reader doesn't like one of my heroine's names, chances are they might like at least one of the others more!

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort - Herm Albright

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Things That Hold You Back

Again, it's been a while since I posted.  Probably because it's been a while since I did any writing.

Two reasons for that.  The first is a nasty and persistant case of the blues.  It's nearing the 12 month anniversary of my sister's passing and there have been a lot of 'last memories' surfacing.  The 13th of this month was the 12 month anniversary of the last time I saw her before she went into hospital.  It was a beautiful day spent with both my sisters and we had a lovely time together and the memory of that day is so crystal clear in my mind which is a great comfort.

The other, less easily defined reason, is that I have been having a mild crisis of confidence.  Okay less than mild.  I read a lot of blogs.  Some of published authors. Some of soon-to-be published authors.  And some of authors wanting to be published.  But lately I have found myself holding back from commenting on their blogs, and posting on my own, because I have the ridiculous notion that someone, somewhere is going to call my bluff.  Someone is going to point at me, everyone will turn to stare and they will yell into the settling silence: "This woman is a fake!  She has no talent and she will never ever be a writer!"

As a result my writing has suffered.  I was second-, third-, and fourth-guessing each and every single word I was writing and it was the most unproductive process I have ever undertaken.  I seriously thought about giving up but as per usual I kept dreaming up these amazing (well to me anyway) plots and characters and I wrote them down in my "Ideas" folder where they were languishing away, drumming their fingers on my conciousness. 

So then I decided to read through some older posts of other writers and found some really helpful advice (thank you Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden, Maisey Yates and Nicola Marsh).  The plan now is to just write.  Not hamstringing myself by trying to write the perfect first draft or caring about what anyone else would think about it.  Just writing.

Then I can go back and see what can be salvaged.  Learning to rewrite is a skill that I am going to give myself the opportunity to add to my repertoire.

If anyone is still reading this blog (and I can't blame you if you're not) any words of wisdom are most welcome.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Best O Face

The phrase: less is more has never been more appropriate than when applied to category romances.  The books that do not stick to this principal either never get published, or if they do they have a genre all of their own - erotica.

Not what I want to write, but each to their own and all that.

Assuring that you don't end up writing Extreme Over The Top Nookie Fests every time your Hero and Heroine feel like a bit of rumpy pumpy is extremely important. 

While I know several couples who have successful 'relationships' based entirely on messing up the sheets, that's not what readers want to read.  They want a journey where two people grow and change and realise that their lives together are so much better than their lives apart but that connection has to be more than just physical - it must be emotional and spiritual and mental as well.

But when they do get around to knocking boots, it needs to be steamy not sleazy.  And as far as I can tell there are a few things that your Hero and Heroine just shouldn't do:
  • The Yes Scream - having lived in a few apartments (why are the walls always so thin?) a woman screaming: "Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  YES. YES. YEEEE-EEE-SSSSSS!" does nothing for me.  A man doing the Yes Scream is even tackier.
  • The Oh Scream - the rhythm is the same as the Yes Scream; it builds in both crescendo and tempo but it sounds like the woman is surprised every time her partner thrusts.  Makes me want to slap someone.
  • The Name Scream - murmuring your partners name a few times while you're getting busy can be really erotic (execpt when it's the wrong name which, trust me, has the totally opposite effect) but when 'Yes' or 'Oh' are replaced with "Nick" or "Stu" or "Phil" it's just cringeworthy.  As a side note, a male who screams out his own name should be pitied (after you've laughed so hard you've fallen off the bed).
  • Exploring the karma sutra - although a couple of authors have bravely explored different pozzies, you won't find many Heroes and Heroines enjoying upside down, gravity defying, ankles behind your ears kinda mattress dancing.
  • Bringing a battery operated friend to bed - a real Alpha male is the Heroine's own Energiser Bunny - he just keeps going and going and going get the idea.
  • Bringing a non-battery operated friend to bed (also known as Taking Britney's Advice) - 2 shall be the optimum number.  End of story.  (If you're wondering about the Britney reference - listen to her song "3" and you'll understand.)
  • Kinky - I'm not really sure but I think it's fairly safe to assume that if the Heroine suddenly whips out a dominatrix outfit, a leather whip and the Hero suddenly starts barking like a dog, the reader is going to become very confused.
I'm sure there are lots of other things but I was laughing too hard imagining the things I listed above appearing in a category romance that I couldn't go on.

But to summarise I would like to give a less is more example.  Not from a book (which I know is cheating) but the example is such a good one that I couldn't pass it over.  Check out the link to this clip from The Good Wife.  It's subtle.  It's steamy.  It's passionate.  It's real.  It's Less.  It's More.

It's the best O face I've ever seen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where Have You Been?

Ever have one of those friends who just goes MIA without a trace?  And then suddenly one day they're back and expecting it all to be exactly the same as before?

Yes I am talking about me.

Sorry but the last few months of last year knocked me around a bit so I kind of shut down a wee bit and the blog, the writing, the being all seemed a bit too much so I just stopped.  But the funny thing about being a writer, is that you can't just stop.  Even in the middle of my 'yuck episode' I had dreams that I woke up from thinking 'hey that would make a great story'. 

During my 'hiatus' I did a lot of analogising - that's not a real word btw - but it means when you think about lots of things in terms of analogies.  Like: writing is like making risotto.  There's some basic ingredients to risotto but after you've covered those, it's pretty much whatever you want it to be.  You can't just walk away and expect it to take care of itself like a slow cooked casserole.  It needs tending and montoring and constant tweaking and checking of the recipe and tasting and then just before you serve it, you need to add a dob of butter and a great big wodge of parmesan so even when you think it's finished it's not.  And then you have the agonising wait as your guests lift their spoons to their mouths and take that first taste and you wait and wait and wait, trying not to be impatient, for their verdict.  Of course some people like their risotto quite wet while other prefer a more solid dish so you know from the beginning that you're not going to please everyone but maybe there's a chance that you've been able to strike that perfect middle ground or that your version of risotto is so earth shatteringly delicious that you've changed everyone's minds and now the only kind of risotto they like, is yours.

My writing is like risotto.  The yet to be cooked kind.  I got caught up in Christmas preparations and family issues and recovery from New Voices and allowed myself to be wooed away from writing.  They were relevant reasons but if I had been determined to write then they would have been distractions as opposed to handy excuses. 

So I've got a lovely recipe simmering in my head and the two main ingredients are sure to make it a hot and spicy dish.  Hopefully a feast for the eyes.  I'm plotting and planning and itching to start. 

And this time, I'm going to finish.