Thursday, December 9, 2010

Craft: Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

Way back when Alanis Morrisette wrote a song called Ironic which highlighted her complete misunderstanding of the word.

It's like a black fly in your chardonnay

No that's not ironic Alanis, that's gross. A hint to stop drinking perhaps.

A death row pardon one minute too late.

More like effing tragic, that one.

Like rain on your wedding day.

Nope. That's just plain old bad luck.... or perhaps a portent of dark days to come, mmwwhaaa.

Meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife.

That's a therapy session waiting to happen.

Apparently, ironic is one of the most misused words in the English language. An ironic remark conveys a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. So, in an ironic statement one thing is said, while another thing is meant. For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!”.

This to me sounded like sarcasm, but apparently there's a distinction. With sarcasm there is a stronger intent to ridicule or mock, often harshly or crudely. For instance if someone does something really silly you might say "That's using your noggin'" because the fact they weren't using their noggin is so obvious, and that's a more personal statement, designed to ridicule. But is it ridicule if you say it with a smile I wonder? If you know the person so well they give as good as they get? Aussies tend to be this way with each other, we call it razzing a mate. My characters, especially my male ones, do it all the time because that's how I've observed Australian men interacting with each other. So are we all sarcastic, ironic or are we just plain mean?

My husband has a saying he uses in reference to me. He says "Sarcasm is your default setting." But I'm now not so sure. I don't say things to be harsh or mean or ridicule people. I do tease, I do razz and make jolly fun of friends, but I expect the same back. I do often say the opposite of what is clearly the truth sometimes because I think it's a bit funny. If someone at work was reemed out by the office bitch, for example, I might say something like, "So Jane's in a pleasant mood today?" Apparently that's not sarcasm, but irony. Jane's not there to be ridiculed. I don't think it's such a harsh thing to say considering the alternatives. Like, "Jane's a psychotic cow in serious need of medication." or "Bloody hell I hate Jane!"

So on second thought I don't think I'm as sarcastic as I first thought, because my intent is not to mock anyone, but to lighten the moment. To make people feel better if anything. I may not always succeed at this but that is my intent.

Next time someone tries to fling an insult my way I could just say "No actually, I'm an ironic bitch, thank you very much."

And a pedantic one :).

Sami

Monday, December 6, 2010

Character Sketch Competition Finished


Thank you Robhap for entering my competition. It was inspired by a book called “Australian Life: Black and White” by Rosa Praed. I was reading it as research for my own Irish Australian Colonial written at the same time as Rosa was writing about her experiences in Australia. Below are some of her character sketches which I loved:

"There are two kinds of drover, the rough, frank, ready-handed colonial, whose mental horizon is in ordinary life bounded by the stockyard fence, while the wildest flight of imagination never lands him beyond Sydney or Melbourne; and the English gentleman who has come down in the world, through drink or misfortune, and who shuns head stations, the society of ladies, and anything that calls back old associations."

"Of the former class, Duncan Campbell was a good specimen. He was long and scraggy, with arms and legs like the sails of a windmill, and a high Roman nose which he had a trick of polishing with his thumb and forefinger till it shone again. He always dressed in a Crimean shirt and riding breeches, and wore—at dinner only—an alpaca coat hastily donned and quickly doffed when the time came for tobacco and grog in the verandah. His voice blended oddly the native drawl and an hereditary Scotch accent."

"He was tall and melancholy-looking, with refined features, large dark eyes, a silky beard, and consumptive stoop. He wore a very old grey coat with half the buttons off, dragged over the chest in a suggestive manner as if to hide deficiencies."

"There came, too, another neighbour, a young lordling, a free selector on the river, the introducer of polo into the district, and of prize pigs and art pottery as features of bush life. He was variously addressed as “Your Lordship, Lord Barty, and Mr. Lord Barty,” professed to be a thorough-going radical and utilitarian, but was in reality as deeply imbued with caste prejudices as any stripling aristocrat could be."

And last, but by no means least…

"Jennie Marsden was a sweet little creature with big shy eyes, and dark curling hair. She had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and a fund of dry humour of which no one ever suspected her."

Great writing – at least in my opinion. I can see these characters so well. These little sketches are perfect for those secondary characters who come and go in the book.

Send me an email Rob to collect your prize and, for those who didn't enter a reminder - it's a book about the Art of Verbal Seduction... Just the ticket for a romance writer I think!


Zoe Y

Friday, November 26, 2010

Writing Craft: A Review

A while back I said I'd post my review of Stephen King's memoir and craft help book On Writing. I'm going to quickly jot down a few of my thoughts on it now, while I've got half an hour before school drop off time (so if I don't make a lot of sense, I've had to go deal with a child related situation).

Five things I got out of this book:

1.  After close to two years of writer's block, to read the words "The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better" made me realise the main thing holding me back from finishing a book was fear. I was afraid it wouldn't be good, that the plot would tie me in knots and I'd lose patience with it, afraid I was wasting my time. I've started writing again, successfully, in the last couple of months and these are the words I always say to myself if I ever start vacillating and trying to put the task off.

2. "I won't convince you that I've never plotted any more than I'd try to convince you that I've never told a lie, but I do both as infrequently as possible".  I'm not a rigid plottter. I need a general idea of where I'm going and a few scenes in my head to help get me there, but if I ever outline it's with the full knowledge that I'll deviate from that outline wildly. Stephen King legitimized my way of doing things, as far as I'm concerned.

3. A part of a writer's job it to READ. This seems simple enough, but it's easy when you have such limited writing time to get bogged down in guilt when you spend some of that time reading someone else's work instead of crafting your own. But the famous quote is true: "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Reading is work for a writer--it is research. This has helped me enjoy my reading again, which in turn has helped me remember what I enjoy about writing (oh and I've all but given up TV so I can make my reading/writing a priority. I hardly miss it actually).

4. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around." King was referring here to using his need for creative energy to excuse his alcohol and drug habit, but the lesson is apt for anyone who's caught in that trap of thinking the writing is the most important thing in their lives. It's not. Really. IT'S NOT THAT IMPORTANT. Your family, your REAL life is what's important. Writing can totally consume you and sometimes, when you're on a roll, that's a good thing. The rest of the time go be with your family. Keep it in perspective and stop beating yourself up for not being Tolstoy (or is that just me?)

5. "When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out the things that are not the story." In other words, allow that first draft to be nonesensical to anyone else but you. The first draft is for your eyes only anyway. Once you've told yourself the story--you can do this in a word doc., in a notebook or on 500 cocktail napkins, whatever works for you--you then know what you're trying to say to others. Then you can fill in the blanks and cut the crap. This is actually my favourite part of writing.

So those are the main points I got out of this book. I would recommend it to anyone who writes, who wants to write or who is simply interested in reading the life story of a very interesting person. I'd definitely recommend it it you've struggled with writing in recent times. It just might help.

Regards,
Sami

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNo? Did someone say NaNo?


Yes, well my first encounter with NaNo was in 2005 when I wrote my little heart out for thirty consecutive days and won! I have the certificate filled out with "Cowboy Heatwave" right there as the name of my novel - my First Finished Novel. I thought I was so great... well it lasted a little while. I still love those characters but I don't think anyone else will ever read it - not one ounce of conflict whatsoever. But, NaNo 2005 did the job I wanted it to do - it got me to finish my first ever novel and for that I will be forever grateful.

This year things have not gone smooth. Just yesterday I was heading for disaster, struggling to leave behind 15,000 and not getting very far at all. What a lunch with a fellow writer can do for a story! Yes, as I went back to work after lunch - oh so grudgingly, my story was beginning to ferment and today I fell over the line at 20,000. That must be a record for me. And somebody told me I was cruel to Rosaleen, the great bad character (read bitch) from Torn, well this is her book and it's called Shattered. Exactly what happens to Rosaleen.

There's something so very satifying about bringing a bitch down to size. So, as a reward for a good day's work, I retire with Beverley Eikli's "Lady Farquhar's Butterfly". No, it's not research, not a requirement, purely for pleasure and this time I'll get to finish it - in between rehabilitating Rosaleen from her near death experience tomorrow and until I write The End for another book.


One might think that after having written most of the day I would not want to see another book - but one would be wrong and not understand writers. Good night people. Oh and don't forget my November competition - write me a short character sketch for the chance to win a book on Verbal Seduction! You know you want it... Zoe Y

Historical Romance Author - Grace Elliot - More to her than meets the eye!!

Today, I would like to introduce everyone to Grace Elliot, a fellow Solstice Publishing author. Grace's debut novel, A Dead Man's Debt is beautifully written, and a good, fast-paced historical love story (if I say so myself).  

Ranulf Charing is perfect for this era and setting. Charming, yet brooding, I found myself drawn to him and his selfless personality. Celeste Armitage is delightfully head strong, and her moments of confusion made me smile. The scene in the card room between Celeste and one Violet Farthingale made me chuckle.

Ms Elliot has created a wonderful, vibrant world, which easily drew me in and kept me hooked from the first page. Ranulf and Celeste’s relationship grows steadily and strongly, pulling me along for the historical ride. Unfortunately, the nasty Ursula Black, who is well named, plans to throw a spanner in the works for the lovers.

BLURB:

Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.

After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…

Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer tries to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….

Welcome to The Romantix blog, Grace. Tell us a bit about your latest full-length release, A Dead Man's Debt.

Hi there, and Kiss, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed In the Shadows of Angels – the first download on my ‘virgin’ kindle, I read it in two sittings – couldn’t put it down! I hope my book A Dead Man’s Debt will give readers such pleasure! Awwww thanks Grace. I've read A Dead Man's Debt and I know it will give readers much pleasure!

A Dead Man's Debt is my debut novel, a sensuous regency romance about blackmail, duty and unexpected love. I write the sort of books I like to read, filled with sexual tension, delicious historical detail and driven by a gripping plot.

Is this the only book you have published?

I have written 5 novels, but A Dead Man’s Debt is the first to be sent to a publisher. My short stories and non fiction has been widely published in the UK in magazines such as The People’s Friend, the Lady, Writing Magazine and My Weekly.

Tell us a little bit about the characters in A Dead Man’s Debt.

Oh I’m totally in love with the hero, the darkly restless Lord Ranulf Charing. As eldest son he carries the weight of the Cadnum’s reputation when all he wants is to be an artist. Dutiful but frustrated, his life is a façade. Only when he meets the heroine, the unconventional Celeste Armitage, and witnesses her courage, does he dare to lay bare his heart…to a woman who has sworn never marry.

Give us a little insight into the way you write your books. Do you have any rituals you do before you write?

Writing is an addiction. I have to write or I get scratchy and irritable. Generally I write for at least 20 minutes a day, rain or shine…inevitably this extends to fill whatever time is available, at the expense of house work, meals and other wifely duties! My writing spot is a sofa in the dining room, with one of my five cats pressed against my leg.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Definitely- both!!
Initially I work to a story outline, drafted from start to finish before I write the first word. I also decide what the hero and heroine look like and their character traits before the serious writing begins. Then I write for myself which means letting the words pour out onto the screen without caring about grammar, or even complete sentences. This shows up flaws in the original outline and areas that need to be explored and deepened and hey presto, the book has taken on a life of its own as the characters tell their own story.

How did the premise for this book come about?

Truly the whole idea came out of one name...Celeste. It’s an unusual name that I came across in a novel, and I wondered what sort of woman my Celeste would be. It seemed she had ethereal ideas, not pinned down by society, strong and intelligent. A woman like Celeste wants to see the world and travel, not be shackled in marriage…so what would happen if she was pushed into doing exactly what she abhors... of course she rebels! But what if she fell in love with the sort of man she most despises... and slowly, A Dead Man’s Debt was born.

Do you only write historical romance? Could there be any stories outside your genre down the track?

My absolute passion is history and my next book is also a regency romance. If I were to be unfaithful to the regency period, it would be with the Victorian era, also a great love of mine.

What genre do you like to read? Who’s your favourite author?

Oh Kiss, were to start? Firstly I’m a bookaholic and read everything from the classics to film spin offs. But without doubt my favorite genre to lose myself in is historical romance and my fave authors are the likes of Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas and Gaelen Foley.

What’s next in the world of writing and publishing for Grace Elliot?

My next book is in its third draft and should be finished in New Year 2011. I continue to publish short stories in the UK and currently have a series of non fiction articles about pets appearing in a veterinary journal.

Where on the web can we find you and your books?

Thank you Kiss, if you or your followers would like to find out more about Grace Elliot and her work please visit my website at:

http://www.graceelliot.webs.com/

If you love animals, history or romance, then why not visit my blog at:

http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/

A Dead Man’s Debt’ can be purchased via:
http://www.solsticepublishing.com/products/A-Dead-man%27s-debt.html

Or at the Amazon Kindle bookshop.

EXCERPT:
So be it. Ranulf gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed. It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving. A lamb was difficult enough, how much more so a calf? Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank. Concentrating on the calf, he barked.

“Don‟t just stand there. Get down here!”

“I beg your pardon!” A woman‟s voice answered.

With a flash of annoyance Ranulf glanced upward.

A wide eyed young woman in a straw bonnet peered down. “I say, is everything all right?”

“Does it look all right?” Muttering under his breath, all he needed was some sensitive Miss fainting on him. “Go! Fetch help from the house.”

He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip. “But you need help now.”

A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow's tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.

In a flurry of muslin and lace the Miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.

“Ouch.” She rubbed her ankle. Ranulf glared back, dark eyes flashing.

“You should have gone to the house.” Damn it all, she could make herself useful then. “Hold the tail aside.”

Pulling a face she limped over. Ranulf's eye lingered for she merited a second glance. Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick witted and bright eyed. Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves throwing them onto a bramble bush. Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail. Practical, Ranulf thought, silently impressed.

“Why didn't you go for help?”

“There wasn't time.” Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid's bow. The sort of face an artist could lose himself in, all shades of the sea to be found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.

Ranulf tightened his grasp and pushed. Sweat beading his brow. The calf retreated an inch.

“What are you doing?” Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman. Ranulf guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion. Her eyes were on him - deep green eyes, lively and entrancing. Suddenly he remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he was gripped by the idea of those lily white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin. He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.

All innocence and interest she watched, blushing faintly in a charming way and yet, he realized, no wilting flower. He shook his head. The woman had asked a question, damn it. He would answer.

“The calf is breech.” He grunted, “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her…” He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was. She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.

“Ah!” Her gaze met his.

“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway. To turn it around you push it back into the stable yard…”

“What can I do to help?”

“Nothing.” He growled.

Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled round to the beast's head. After a moment‟s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow's head stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.

“She's relaxing.” Ranulf's arm was numb from the contractions. He fell forward, as the first leg finally slid back into the womb. "That helps." His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders. He glanced at the Miss. She was leaning forward, her bosom straining against a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts. He swallowed hard. She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching none the less. Her face showed character, determination…and her complexion too healthy to be fashionable, rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles which with a hint of sunlight burst into a profusion.

The Miss was glaring at him now, her skin glowing bright pink. Had he been staring? His heart raced as he returned to the calving.
 
Thank you so much, Grace, for taking the time to tell us a little about your book, and your writing process. We wish you the best of luck with A Dead Man's Debt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Don't Nano

Not exactly. I did it once about three years ago and never finished either of the manuscripts I started (yes there were two), so I labelled it an unmitigated disaster and decided I wouldn't go a round two with National Novel Writing Month.

But I must confess this November I have been sort of doing my own version of this mad rush to set words down at all costs. I didn't mean to do it in November as such, but that's just when I happened to be ready have a serious go at trying to start/complete something again. At the moment I'm writing an m/f/m, m/m/f menage themed erotic romance tentatively entitled Erica's Choice.

I explain all this because this is my reason for not having compiled a craft post this week. It is also my reason for not posting this blog on Thursday, which is my regular Romantix time slot. I'm busy writing, what do you know. Hasn't happened in two years so I'm seizing this opportunity with both hands.

I will see you next week. With something, not sure what yet. A craft post, I hope.

Sami

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday, the day of rest and...

Hey! The new page looks great! Thanks Sami for the overhaul. Now can you do my blog and my webpage??? I can already hear the resounding Noooooo!!!

Today is Sunday, generally the one day of the week it's okay to sit around and do nothing. Ahhhh, if only I could sit and do nothing. Today I:

1. Did our monthly grocery shop. I took my eldest daughter and the baby with me. Slowed me down by 45 minutes. Still, it was great to have some company.
2. Did a little bit of Christmas shopping. Took the gorgeous hubby with me. He's not into teenage clothes...or bras..."Aren't you holding that dress up backwards?" Ah, no. Those words could only come from a conservative father of two daughters.
3. Tended to the vegie patch. Pulled weeds and any dead or dying seedlings that didn't look like taking. Quick or dead is the motto at our house. Wired the beans. Trimmed the herbs that are growing wild in the humidity, and looked at the passionfruit plants growing wild up the neighbour's tree. Just looked. I still don't know what to do about that one. Cut back the lavender...and we have lots of lavender.
4. Did 6 loads of washing. There's still at least 4 waiting. I've done 3 loads a day since the granddaughter arrived.
5.Checked out hubby's handy work with the pool. The pool is still green, thanks to the rain and the humidity, but it's looking better by the hour. Now to kill the rest of the algae.
6. This isn't done, yet but I plan to write about 2000 words of my new WIP tonight.

So, my day of rest turned out like every other day. What now? Gee, it's nearly dinner time.

K

Friday, November 12, 2010

If I Only Had a Heart

Anyone who knows me or reads my rantings over at Sami’s Scribbles will already know I’ve suffered horribly with a form of writer’s block the past year (and a half, but who’s counting?). I’ve been able to start stories, oh so many of them, but it’s the finishing part that has caused me the biggest problem. And as a prerequisite to a career in publishing is the ability to be able to offer up complete manuscripts, this has become somewhat of a problem for me.

After the RWA conference in Sydney, where I pitched a partial I had written to a US agent and was asked to send it to her, I hit a crisis point. I knew in my gut that I couldn’t send through the book I’d been working on. Yes, if I put my nose right to the grindstone I could get it finished based on the synopsis I’d drafted. I could send her something quite all right. But my book just wasn’t good enough. It didn’t represent me or what I know I’m capable of as a writer, when I’m on my game. With regret, I emailed that agent and apologised for not sending the requested work, admitting the simple truth. Like Tin Man on his way to Oz, my story just didn’t have a heart.

For me this is the most important thing you can put into a book. It’s more vital than having a great premise, or a fantastic plot or even compelling characters. The book has to have a life of its own. It has to say something—by that I don’t necessarily mean something existential or world changing. Your message could be a simple one about family, love, redemption or courage. The complexity of the message isn’t what’s important. The passion with which it’s delivered is.

So how does a writer ensure their book has heart? I imagine it’s different for everyone. I’ve come to the realisation I just can’t work within tightly constructed plots without killng my passion for the story. Neither can I force my ideas to fit into a predesigned mold. I can’t take something I wrote in my free wheeling manner and ‘tweak’ it to fit a specific publishing company’s requirements. None of us can truly ‘tweak’ ourselves, and if we’ve written the book we are supposed to write it will reflect who we are. Take out certain elements and it’s no longer what we intended. We might still write capably. We might even sell. If so we could make a buck or two. But is that really all we want? Is that why we write?

This was meant to be a critique of Stephen King’s On Writing which recently helped me arrive at a few conclusions about how I need to proceed with my work, but the post is already too long so I’ll save that for next week. For now I’ll leave you to ponder a few questions:

What is at a book’s heart to you? What are you passionate about? Why do you write?

Sami

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Would I Lie To You?

This is one that has caused some consternation among our little writers’ group before. It shouldn’t have. We’re all quite knowledgeable about writing, practically word nerds, one and all. We’re all trying to be authors and two of us are even published authors. So why would the difference between lie and lay cause us any confusion?

Well, all I can say is even the little things can trip us up sometimes. But I found a useful little lay vs lie chart in the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, by Jane Straus, which is my easy to use go-to book for little sticking points like this. I thought I’d share it with you so you too can benefit from the wisdom I’ve discovered.

                                                    Present Tense                                 Past Tense


To recline                                      lie, lying                                             lay

To put or place                             lay, laying                                           laid

To tell a falsehood                        lie, lying                                              lied



The third of these is pretty easy to distinguish from the others. I wouldn’t tell a lie. I’d be lying if I said I always told the truth. Pretty easy, except perhaps for the ethical questions it raises. But the other two deserve closer consideration. Here are some examples:

Present (or in this case future) tense: I will lie down for a nap at 3 o’clock (oh how I wish). And: I lay the book on the bedside table and went to sleep.

Past tense: I lay down for a nap yesterday at 3 o’clock. When I lay down for a nap yesterday, I laid the book on the bedside table and went to sleep.

Come to think of it, I’m not surprised even the word nerds were confused. It’s the word lay that causes the problem because it is the past tense of recline but also the present tense of to put or place. Really, the English language couldn’t come up with something better than that?

Apparently not.

In any case, there you have it. Hope it’s of some use to you.

Now I’d like this explained: Why is sex colloquially referred to as getting ‘placed’. Placed on the bed? Placed in the back seat of the car? Put in an awkward position that gives you back spasms for days?

Hmm….

Sami

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Craft - Competition

How is your muse behaving? I've been reading, for research, a Rosa Praed book written just a bit later than my WIP is set. She had some great little character sketches which made me think I want to learn to write like that...
So, here it is, write me a character sketch - just a couple of sentences about a character. Doesn't need to be just how he/she looks, though that can be part of it, tell me what they are like as a person, what they do, say... that makes them unique. Something that guides your reader, tells them whether they should love, hate, admire, envy or despise that character.
Let's pick on Sami as an example, just because she did the last blog...

"She waltzed through life on a cloud. Tall and slender with glossy black hair and a style as elegant as her dress, Sami drew the eyes of men and women alike wherever she went. Yet, she had a warmth about her that made you want to know her, be around her, have her as your friend..."

Well I told you I need to learn to do this... Come on, I know you can do one so much better!
Oh, and, there's a prize involved. I found this book about verbal seduction... you know you want it! Now, because there's a prize, there has to be a closing date. Ummm I'll give you a month just because it's Nanowrimo starting Monday and I will be like you, very busy writing - see there you go, submit one you write for your Nanowrimo book... just do it before 30 November.
Good luck
Zoe Y

Monday, October 25, 2010

Animals in writing

I read a few years ago to limit the amount of animals you have in a story. I also read that the hero shouldn't be terribly enamoured with his pets. I can't remember exactly why, something along the lines of if he shows too much compassion towards animals, the reader may find him a little "soft". Also because the hero may direct all his attention towards said animals instead of the poor, neglected heroine.

Now, saying that, most of my stories include animals - ghost cats, horses, pegasus', dragons etc etc. Yes, the heroes are quite fond of the pets, but generally, I make the animals work for their appearances in my books.

Personally, I enjoy pets in stories. They often bring a little light relief from the seriousness, or they add spark to the storyline. Many famous authors include pets in the majority of their story lines. For Teresa Medeiros, it's cats. I read a Georgette Heyer story where the hero's dog was told to sit and watch the heroine, so it did just that and the heroine couldn't even get herself a drink.

To some readers, pets are their lives. They love their dog or cat or fishy friends with more enthusiasm than they love other humans. I think having animals in stories is a good way to connect with a reader, especially one who loves animals.

Kiss
Ok, maybe not a pet. I could dream


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Craft Corner Episode 1 - Feeling Alright (sort of)

Back in the day, Joe Cocker sang about feeling alright. I’m so glad for him, really, even though he was probably stoned at the time. I don’t begrudge Joe his mellow pre-munchies euphoria. What I have a problem with is the usage of ‘alright’ a word that by all accounts isn’t a real word.

I hate to be a buzzkill and I’d really love to chillax about the whole thing, but bad spelling is bad spelling, even in a song lyric.

The fact is the word ‘alright’ is not a recognised word. It is a misspelling of the phrase ‘all right’, which means ‘adequate’ or ‘satisfactory’, e.g. “Do you feel all right?”. The correct usage is always as two words, all and right. The one word version is not correct (or not all right). Here’s what the dictionary says about it:

—Usage note

The form ALRIGHT as a one-word spelling of the phrase ALL RIGHT in all of its senses probably arose by analogy with such words as already and altogether. Although ALRIGHT is a common spelling in written dialogue and in other types of informal writing, ALL RIGHT is used in more formal, edited writing.

Alright is a common spelling which according to many is gaining in popularity (dare I say because it is so often misused the grammar geeks are getting tired of correcting people?). I’ve seen it used not only in song lyrics, but published novels and articles. It may well become an accepted word in future. That is how new words are coined after all, by sheer weight of popular use. But for now it is best to stick with the two word, widely accepted usage ‘all right’. That way, no one can ever say you’re wrong!

NB: Already and altogether are distinct words, different in meaning to the phrases all ready and all together. Already is concerned with time e.g. ‘is it summer already?’ whereas all ready has to do with preparedness in a collective sense e.g. ‘are you all ready to go to the beach?’. Similar for all together e.g. ‘are you all together?’ the waitress asked the five diners, meaning are you all in the same group. Altogether means ‘entirely’ as in ‘we are altogether too tired to go to the beach.’ (Or colloqially ‘Sami went to the beach in the altogether’ meaning in the nude. Not on your life, by the way).

So there you have it. Until further notice, alright is not all right—or at least it’s not supposed to be.

Sami

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review! Unhallowed Ground by Heather Graham

Yes, I put myself through another Heather Graham book. This one, however, was so much better than the last Heather Graham I read. Unhallowed Ground was written in 2009, and I must say the author produced much better characters.

Blurb:

When Sarah McKinley is finally able to buy and restore the historic Florida mansion that she has always loved, she dismisses the horror stories of past residents vanishing and a long-dead housekeeper who practiced black magic. Then, in the midst of renovations, she makes a grin discovery. Hidden within the walls of Sarah's dream house are the remains of dozens of bodies--some dating back over a century.

The door to the past is blown open wide when Caleb Anderson, a private investigator, shows up at the mansion. He believes several current missing-persons cases are linked to the house and its dark past. Working together to find the connection and stop a contemporary killer, Sarah and Caleb are compelled to research the history of the haunted house, growing closer to each other even as the solution to the murders eludes them.

But there is one who knows the truth...a spirit who follows every move they make. Soon Caleb begins to fear that if he can't stay a step ahead, he could lose Sarah to a killer with the ability to transcend time in a quest for blood sacrifice.

Well, after typing out the blurb, I've realised that it has nothing to do with the actual story. She's very crafty, this Heather Graham, with her ability to pull a reader in with the blurb.

We get a quick glimpse as to why the book is called Unhallowed Ground at the beginning, and again in the final few pages. Apart from that, nothing. I found Sarah and Caleb pretty okay. They were average in a good way, and I liked Caleb's special ability. I just wish he used it more often, and we, as readers, could get more of an insight into it. The romance started relatively early, and I found the relationship very credible.

There were the typical Heather Graham characters--the headstrong but confused but gullible but insistant  heroine, the "oh so good looking but way over bearing" male best friend/relative, the knowledgable hero who likes to keep secrets and doesn't really trust anyone, and the bevy of friends who think the heroine is way too good for the hero.

But, just like other Heather Graham novels, the beauty is in the plot. Twists and turns, characters who hop in and out, situations that lead the reader down the wrong path, skeletons in the walls, and dead bodies appearing at any given moment give Unhallowed Ground a fresh voice.

I give Unhallowed Ground 4/5 stars. I enjoyed this one.

Kiss

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Minutes of Meeting 13 October

Despite weeks of often torrential rain, our hardy Romantix members managed to trek to my place on Tuesday for the monthly meeting. What troopers! Kiss was unable to make it. Hope you’re feeling bright and sunny now that the weather’s improved KC. And Sarah who attended her first meeting last time was conspicuously absent. Did we talk too much about German Porn last month?

As the meeting was at mine, you know what that means: no agenda and no discernable structure. The zany just never stops at my house either. Zoe and I got our coffee and tea cups mixed up, but we each drank half before I thought to ask: "Ah Zoe, is your drink coffee? because this tastes like tea." To which Zoe replied: "I don't know." Clearly, it had already been a long week for both of us

I did manage to make a suggestion as to topics—writing craft books and the ones that have most helped us. I had an ulterior motive for wanting to talk about this. I’m on a mission to go back to basics with my writing and as a first step I read Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, which I had heard several times over was excellent, rave reviews that weren’t misplaced, in my opinion. However I will not hijack the meeting minutes with a book review (might do that another time). I’ve loaned the book to Letitia and I’ll be interested to see if she finds it useful.

Other books discussed were The Writer’s Journey, brought in by Letitia, and Zoe’s Roget’s Thesauraus. Well, where would any of us be without a thesauraus? Using the same words over and over (and over and over), I imagine.

Another issue raised was this blog. Be assured that Melita, Zoe and Letitia all whipped out their telephonic devices (in one unified motion) and put reminders in there about which days to blog, so I expect that will fix the problem of sporadic posting! (Isn’t an iphone reminder like magic or something?) We also discussed topics to blog about, as several members cited difficulty in coming up with subject matter as a reason as to why they don’t post as regularly as they'd like. I hear this, I agree. It can be hard to come up with things to talk about. I suggested more book reviews would be interesting, and I’ve decided to do a little thing on Thursdays tentatively called Craft Corner (lord help me come up with a better title than that). Stay tuned for that next week.

Other issues discussed: Melita's having trouble writing her kissing scene. Letitia agrees that's a troublesome thing, she always feels like someone might come and look over her shoulder and see what she's doing. I told her that was her Catholic guilt whispering in her ear. My dog smells. He's old and not matter how well I bath him, he simply stinks. Apparently this can be common among pets. Speaking of among--among or amongst; which is correct? A topic for Craft Corner perhaps? Melita has also had some book reviews published in our local libraries paranormal focussed newsletter. Yay Melita! A publishing credit!

The meeting was interrupted several times by my Cherub, who decided as people were over it was no time to be snoozing her life away. She did eventually succumb to the temptation of sleep around 8:30pm, much to the group’s relief I’m sure. Next meeting is on the 9th of November at Melita’s.

Sami

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Definition: Internal Conflict

When your shopping trolley is filled with weight watchers meals and this stuff...

Yes, I also order diet coke when I get a Big Mac meal.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Sami

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review! Ghost Walk by Heather Graham

Over the weekend, I read a few books. Down time. My mind relaxes when I'm reading, rather than writing. One of the books I read was Ghost Walk, by Heather Graham.

Nikki DuMonde's newest employee is standing at the end of her bed at four o'clock in the morning begging for help. It's a joke, right? Besides, as manager of a successful New Orleans haunted-tour company, Nikki doesn't scare easily. But in the light of day, harsh reality sets in as a police officer informs her that Andy was brutally murdered--at the exact time Nikki swears the distraught woman was in her room.

No one believes her except Brent Blackhawk, a paranormal investigator desperately trying to forget his tragic past. Half Irish, half Lakota--and able to communicate with the dead--Brent is used to living in two worlds. But when he realizes the ghost of a slain government agent is also trying to reach out to Nikki, he knows that she, too, must listen to the dead...if she wants to keep living.

I think I expected a little more from this book than I was given. It was advertised as a paranormal romance. Yes, there's some romance. Yes, there's some paranormal. However, I certainly wouldn't call it a paranormal romance. The main characters were a little different. Nikki did nothing but argue. Brent did nothing but let her argue with him. I just couldn't endear myself to either of them.

The story was good, with the mystery and such. However, it would have been a whole sight better if Nikki didn't continuously argue with her friends, herself, the police, and her new boyfriend.

Also, I found I lost the story in the head hopping. For the first few chapters, I had to keep reading the blurb to remind myself who the main character was because the other characters outshone her by far. The romance started about halfway through the book, and failed to cheer me.

All in all, I give this book 3/5 stars, simply for the story line.

Big smiles, it could be worse!!!

K

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One day at a time will get you where you want to go

One day follows another, weeks slide by, then months, seasons change, and then it arrives. That day you when you look back and see where you came from. Way back there...
So, what do you see when you look back? How far have you come? How much have you accomplished since you last checked?
They say you can walk as far as you need to - you just have to line up those telegraph poles and go from one to the other and then the next and another and, if you walk regularly, consistently, unrelentingly, you'll get there.
Sometimes it doesn't feel as if we are getting anywhere so we need one of those days when you look back and see how far you have come.
How far have I come? Let's not count the years along the track, let's count the stories, the books, the publications... For me it's been quite a few short stories - some germinating back there, three complete books... publications? two little gems, one poetry anthology as a fundraiser for the North Pine Bush Poets with three of mine in it and where am I?
Finally, I've found my voice not in contemporary category but in historical. "An old fashioned voice" said one judge - and she was right. I just love historical books - well any books really but Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy, Irving Stone - I'm not fussy I just love reading great stories and hopefully someone will one day some reader will list my name there. In the meantime, I'm busy writing, trying not to think about my three chapters there in New York, waiting to be read by an agent who loves them and wants to read more.
Well I can dream can't I? I have to. That's how I know where to aim when I line up those telegraph poles.
So, where are you aiming? and how far have you come? are you getting closer every day. Yes?
Good on you. Don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back before you get going again...
Zoe Y

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pen Envy

What a beauty! I want I want!
As Kiss alluded to in the last post, we had a rather spritely discussion at the last Romantix meeting about pens. Kiss prefers to use black ink (in fact she said she can't write in blue, which is a little extreme. She CAN'T write in blue? Seriously?), while I prefer to write in blue ink (I CAN, however, write in black if I'm so required. I'm not insane). We both like a medium point as we're hard pressers (is that a term?) and would stab holes in the paper with a fine point (is that a sign of simmering latent aggression?) And of course neither of us like to write with felt tip pens because they're far too dark and there's all that blotting to deal with. Felt tip pen users, we don't know how you do it.

The remaining Romantix members remained fairly silent throughout this exchange, no doubt wondering why the hell we were talking about Ye Olde Penmanship in the computer age. I guess crazy is subjective.

So all this talk got me wondering--why don't I write in pen anymore? I used to write my stories out in long hand in my old school excersise books. My maths problems were done in the front while my creative scribbles were begun at the back of the book. Guess what reached the halfway point of the book first? I wasn't the keenest maths student :). Kiss shocked us all at the meeting when she told us she writes all her books out in longhand in spiral notebooks before retyping them onto the computer. It never occurred to me to continue writing in long hand once I got a PC. I'm a much faster typist than I am a hand writer. But then I type a lot of crap that gets deleted too, so I'm wondering if Kiss's method might end up being more efficient. I'm thinking of trying it.

What about you? How do you write the first draft? Do you have a weird fixation on pens? Any rituals that we would all think are bizarre?

Sami

Monday, September 20, 2010

Minutes from Romantix meeting 15/9/2010

This week, we welcomed new member Sarah to our little group. Sarah told us some interesting stories, which included her alter ego, Rhonda. Hmmm Welcome Sarah, and may we never encounter Rhonda early on a Saturday morning…

We briefly touched on writing subjects…and porn…and Letitia told us a story I will never repeat. However, apparently turning 40 has its good side. I look forward to it. I think.

Also discussed was Sami’s and my inability to write at the moment. Letitia put forward that it happens to every writer, usually between the 3rd and 5th book, and will soon pass. Sami and I aren’t quite so sure but we look forward to the day when writing becomes “good” again.

Sami wanted to know why some writers get worse than better. She has often picked up an author’s first book and loved it, only to be disappointed by the second or subsequent books. Sarah suggested the dreaded deadline scenario where writers had to finish the book quickly. Also noted was the word count issue, where writers had to cut books short due to word count.

Zoe tried to get the meeting back on track by showing us all GMC strategies. Unfortunately, porn crept in again. Sami forwarded that men are more visual creatures who need something to look at, where as women are sensory. In other words, women can read. Men need picture books. All seconded that motion.

Also discussed:

• Swearing in regency romances. Is there really a place for it?
• Violent heroes. Emotional, mental and physical bullies shouldn’t be in romance novels of any kind. Who on earth would want to kiss the man who holds a gun to her head? No one at our meeting, and of course, we speak for all romance writers globally. ;-)

• GMC. And no, I’ve decided I still don’t have goals, motivation or conflict in any of my books. My characters wander around eternally confused.
• 10 good reasons to write romance.

Jimmy Thomas Cover

Jimmy Thomas Cover

And, Jimmy Thomas. I've included a link to his romance cover website so you can all have a look. I'm not a real fan...I find his poses a little pretentious, but I've seen some of the covers he's on and I have to say, they look good. http://www.romancenovelcovers.com/

What did I find especially useful about this meeting? The good belly laughs!

Have a great week.
Kiss







Monday, September 13, 2010

Almost forgot!

Monday. My day to blog! I almost forgot. Hmmm, what can I talk about? I received some great presents for my birthday, thank you everyone, including a couple of gift vouchers. One for Amazon and one for Rosemary's Romance Bookshop. Squeeee!!! I've already spent the Amazon voucher. I bought 4 books, which cost around $25 and then $24 in postage. Doesn't seem fair, really. Oh well...I bought Unhallowed Ground and Ghost Walk by Heather Graham, Atlantis Rising by Alyssa Day, and of course, my token Teresa Medeiros book, Heather and Velvet. I'm excited! Should be some good reading, there.

I'm finishing off some judging, and doing a bit of writing. I've decided I need to lose 10kg by Christmas, and considering I had birthday cake for afternoon tea, I don't think my strategy is working. However, I have scheduled in 40 minutes on the treadmill. My ultimate plan is to walk half an hour of a morning before work (I don't think my alarm clock goes off that early), and 40 minutes of an afternoon. I've increased my fruit and vege intake, 5 serves of vegies and 2 serves of fruit a day, as the dietitians order, and the stray piece of chocolate cake hehehe

Oh well, off to the treadmill!

Kiss

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Singing in the shower??

The shower is a wonderful place. The acoustics are great, so I've heard. I'm not a shower singer. I can't even bring myself to hum. I can't keep a tune. Nope. Not one.

So, apart from keeping clean, what else is the shower good for? Relaxing. Meditating? Well, I always find myself thinking in the shower. I get some of my best ideas when warm water is cascading onto my shoulders. The other day, I was so deep in thought that I couldn't remember if I washed my hair or not. I had to wash it again. Or for the first time. Who knows!

If I could spend an hour in the shower with a water proof pen and pad of paper, I would. Oooh! Maybe I could shower proof my laptop. hehehe Just kidding.

The bathroom is so peaceful, and it's where the most hideous of acts occur. Tehehe When the shower is running, I can't hear the kids fighting, or the bird squawking, or my phone, or the stream of emails...It's just me, the water, and my characters. Well, if Zachary Sterling stood in the shower with me...Ahum...I'd do some very thorough research! Ooops, strayed again...

Where do you all do your best thinking? On the toilet? Watering the garden? (That's a good one for me, too. It must be a water thing.) Cooking tea? How about when you're lying on a beach chair overlooking a glorious sunset, sipping white wine and being served fresh fruit from Gerard Butler's bare belly? Bahaha Ohhhh! What a sight that just conjured.

Well, that's enough from me. Enjoy your week!
Kiss

Friday, September 3, 2010

Here's a Good'n

Word of the Day for Thursday, September 2, 2010



bilocation \bahy-loh-KEY-shuhn\, noun:


The state of being or the ability to be in two places at the same time
Well, I need me some of this bilocation business. Then I could be in with my toddler right now, discussing the meaning of life as she seems determined to do during what's supposed to be her nap time. I could have spent the morning writing as well as what I actually did, which is baking cupcakes to the soundtrack of Cherub's wails of indignation that the cupcakes weren't actually for HER. Instead they're for the Princess's school fair, which will block out some time tomorrow--that is to say ALL of tomorrow.

Wouldn't it be great if I could spend the day relaxing at the fair, enjoying the shows and the cake stalls (yes, those are my delicious looking cakes, the fairest of them all at the fair, if I can be so bold), and still have time to get some words on the page, post a blog, update facebook and twitter, AND cook dinner for the family, including mother-in-law who hubby has just decided to invite around, not to mention do the 2+ loads of washing I usually do on Saturday, feed the dog, actually stop and pat the dog which is an increasingly rare occurrence, clean the bathroom, tidy the kitchen table which more and more resembles the local tip and do the requisite 30 mins of excersise a day that the heart foundation or whomever those goody-two-shoes are recommends and insists is SO EASY to fit in to our daily lives.

Sure it's easy--if you've got the power to bilocate.

Sami (who just realised she hasn't organised hubby a father's day present yet.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Character development

What makes characters so unforgettable? Quirks? Sense of humour? Their reactions to the situations they find themselves in? In a recent review, a reader hoped I would write a second book using the characters from In the Shadows of Angels. That could be a possibility, but what made that reader love those characters?
Why do readers love Twilight, or Harry Potter, or even Dan Brown's Professor Langdon? Why do I love Teresa Medeiros' heroes so much?

Because these characters are nothing more than human. No Peggy Sues.

Now, Lucius Benedict from In the Shadows of Angels is the laird of a very fine estate. He's also a very fine man. However, his insecurities are many. He has been accused of the murder of his estranged wife. But Luke can't remember if he killed her or not. His brother doesn't believe he is good enough to be laird. His mother in law dislikes him with unsurpassed passion. Even his horse betrays him! Poor Luke. The list goes on. However, these insecurities are what makes him human. Quirks? Oh yes! He lapses into strong Scottish brogue when things get too tough. He tempers his anxiety with sarcasm, and generally covers his confusion by being a big strong man. What man enjoys admitting confusion?

It's not easy keeping characters grounded, especially when writing fantasy or paranormal. All I can suggest is to draw from experiences with people. Not necessarily people you are close to, but strangers you meet every day. Remember the situations you face during the day, at work, at the supermarket, in the bank, even walking down the street. Disect the characters from your favourite movies and use the parts you need.

The best advice I ever read (or was told, I can't remember) is to make the characters your best friends. If you wouldn't mind being their friends, more than likely, the reader wouldn't either.

Sorry about the pics posted here. Gee, I had to post something, so why not gorgeous men?

Kiss

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Five Reasons I Love Writers Conferences

1. Getting together with friends and other like minded types I usually only 'see' online. Rapid fire dialogue was the theme of the RWAs Sydney conference, held a couple of weeks ago.

2. International Guest Speakers. Debra Dixon, legendary author of Goal Motivation and Conflict, came all the way from the US to share her wisdom and inspire us with her positive attitude and motivational words. I missed the Friday session sadly :(, but Zoe and Letitia assures me it was excellent.

3. Fan Girl moments. I've had a Vicki Lewis Thompson Blaze novel sitting on my keeper shelf for ten years and I actually got her to sign it! How cool is that?

4. Anticipation. I think everyone is already eagerly awaiting next year's Melbourne event. Rumour has it Susan Wiggs and Bob Mayer will be among the fantastic speakers on offer. I'm already saving my pennies.

5. Well... everything else! The food, the view, the wine, the food (again), getting away from the kids for some 'me' time, the wine (again).

Can't wait for next year!

Sami

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Kid on the Block

To anyone who I have not meet yet Hi I'm Melita "The new kids on the block" and this is my first blog. As Sami said in her blog I am trying my hand at a Romance Novel not something I have ever done before as I am normally write paranormal / thriller stories and can write a fight scene much more easily then anything romantic. But I thought what the hell....... Yeah right that was easier said then done. I have spent most of today looking at a blank screen or surfing the web. Well hopefully next week I will be saying that the first chapter is finished.

Until till then

Melita

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let me talk about turning 40

Okay, I'm heading for a milestone in my life. In a few weeks, I turn 40. Let me tell you that any glee I may portray at turning 40 is purely for show. No, I'm not thrilled. However, aging happens to the best of us, so I try to grin and bear the process.

Many, many, many, many (okay, maybe not so many manys), years ago, my best friend, Rachel, and I actually touched on the subject of getting old. We were 18 at the time, and 40 was a whole 50 lifetimes away as far as we were concerned. Now, I'm talking before computers, before CDs, before DVDs (we still used Beta I think), before XBox Live, before Wii, 25 000 000 years BC as far as my children are concerned. And from what I can remember (my mind isn't quite what it used to be), these are the three things we decided we'd be doing when we turned 40:

1)  still chasing 20 yo boys
2)  still sitting in the pub from open to close, stalking said 20 yo boys
3)  dead
I guess I should note that Rachel and I are doing none of the above, and thankfully, we are still alive. Even at 40.

Writing this has forced me to think of my achievements in the 22 years since that fateful day we convinced ourselves we'd be dead by 40. And, yes, I have lived 50 lifetimes since that day, as has Rachel. I have:

1)  survived
2)  married the man of my dreams
3)  given birth not once, but three times
4)  come to terms with the fact that I am expecting my first grandchild in October
5)  managed to entertain people with the books I have written
6)  laughed out loud until my sides hurt

I guess I've done more than a lot of other people. So...maybe turning 40 isn't quite as bad as I first thought.

Nah!

Take care

Kiss

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Better Late than Never - (Reflective Minutes from Meeting of 21st July)

Well I guess I could give you all kinds of excuses for not posting the minutes earlier, but I think the bottom line is, life got in the way. I kept meaning to, then I realised it was a month later. So, here I am, slinking online with shame and guilt to right the wrong. I figure I’ll feel better for doing them late, rather than if I never do them at all. All I can say is; I’m sorry ladies.

Ok, to business, (lucky I took some notes)

Firstly, Melita and Kiss sent their apologies for not attending; the dreaded winter flu got the better of them both. Zoe, Sami and I wished them well in their recovery (obviously because it’s four weeks later I can comment that they did get better).

We discussed the different eReaders that are making their way onto the Australian market, which is still very limited compared to the rest of the world. Sami just purchased the Sony Touch Edition (not available at retailers in Oz), so we got to look and play with it. Very niiiiice... (four weeks later both Zoe and I have one).

Discussions were held regarding the future of publishing and eBooks etc, etc. We aren’t happy with Amazon and their blatant attempt to monopolise this new and growing market. Putting pressure on small publishers and why, in most cases, do they charge more for an eBook than they do for mass market paperback? Much political debate and speculation was had with regards to the publishing industry’s future and the change eBooks represents for it. Well, until it all settles, I’ll just hope we haven’t all bought a beta video player instead of the VHS version.

RWA Conference was coming up (yeah, it’s been and gone now, so pretend I’m talk in July) Theme for the cocktail party is “Fantasy Island” - come as your favourite fantasy. At the meeting I was told not to minute what we decided to wear, so I won’t, though as it’s been and gone perhaps someone else could discuss that outcome? (I have photos btw)

Zoe and Sami were both set to pitch at the conference; I believe both an editor and an agent was available. Wishing them luck (which we now know they didn’t need, but luck again for next successful stage in the process to publication).

I tabled an article I read in “Writer’s Digest” magazine (May/June 2010 edition), “Romancing the Publishing Industry” Did you know in 2008, in US, romance fiction created an estimated $1.37 BILLION in revenue?!!! Well and truly outselling religion/inspirational, mystery, science fiction/fantasy and literary fiction. The article also covered some technical points regarding the romance genre and listed some publishers currently seeking romance writers. To summarise the article would be to do it injustice, but it’s well worth a read if you can get access to it.

Finally the topic which took us over our normal two hour meeting time; Me. I hogged Zoe and Sami for advice. I’ve reached a point in my writing where I feel I need “validation”, or rather I’ve reached a point where I need to improve and I don’t know how to get over that wall to the next level. Suggestions included QWC’s Year of the Novel, first day of which starts on the same days as the RWA conference, which ruled that out. Another idea was to entering competitions such as RWA’s STALI to get feedback and have a deadline. As I said, it was a long discussion, and a great help which gave me much to think about; thank you ladies. Let’s hope I learn to stop thinking and do. Which hopefully these minutes signal the start of.

Meeting News - 18 August

Well, the meeting was at my house this week and you know what that means. No agenda but plenty of jelly beans. Seriously, which would you prefer?

All we really did was discuss the biggest event of the month the RWA conference, which Zoe, Letitia and I attended with relish, might I say. Vicki Lewis Thompson talked about the difference between writing single title and category fiction, Zoe and Letitia were enthralled with Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict day long session, and we all spent a lot of time gasbagging with other writers and generally laughing much too loudly (or was that just me?).

We had a debrief of our pitch sessions. Zoe and I are both madly polishing our partials to send a US agent, with fingers crossed (after the typing’s done this is).

We all decided Jake Gyllenhaal was a massive cutie, although no-one’s quite sure if we say his name with a hard or soft ‘G’. Oh, Jake won’t you write and let us know?

Kiss and Melita agreed they have the movie/book/video game taste of fifteen year old boys. Yes, we are all at least or nearly forty years old. Young at heart though. Young at heart.

Letitia, unfortunately, was unable to make it this week, as the dreaded cold caught up with her. Not surprising after the madcap weekend we had. Hope you improve in leaps and bounds L. We missed ya.

Next meeting will be at Kiss’s place on the 15th of September. Melita will be sending us out her first chapter of her latest (first ever) attempt at a straight romance novel for us to look at and critique, and the idea with this blog is that we’ll each be blogging a different day of the week. That means once a week for all of us so watch out.

We’re starting to sound like an actual writer’s group.

Sami

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inspiration

With my desire to write at an all time low, I decided to take this opportunity to talk about inspiration. What inspires a person to say "hmmm, I might write a book". That phrase within itself is enough to send a person mad. I complained that one of my manuscripts would only be 75 000 words. My neighbour told me she struggles to write out her shopping list once a week.

There are gifted story tellers. Then, there are gifted word users (which I obviously am not! word users, sheesh!). Sometimes, the gifted story tellers can't write, and visa versa, the gifted writers don't have any stories to tell.

Here, I think is where inspiration comes into play. A writer must be focused. Determined. And inspired. Passion plays a big part when writing a book. Not passion between the characters, but a writer's passion to tell a story.

Passion makes me sit at the computer for 4-5 hours every night and get to know half a dozen people I could never be lucky enough to meet. Passion for the story carries me through months of work. Well, money certainly doesn't inspire me to sit and slave away at the keyboard. Don't let anyone tell you there's money in writing. Believe me. There's not.

However, there is an abundance of passion, a decadent amount of pride, and enormous amounts of dogged determination to make those darned characters behave themselves.

Then, there is happiness.

There is no greater happiness in my mind (as a writer) to know that somewhere in the world, people have enjoyed my books enough to tell their friends. My passion has turned into their passion.

Now, I am inspired.