Monthly Archives: March 2012

How Dark Do You Go

A group of us were helping a critique partner brainstorm a story last night. Someone suggested a course of story action that made me cringe. It was a horrifying suggestion. I hated it. To me, the action suggested is brutal, unforgiveable, and utterly unheroic. The writer loved it. The scene will show up in her work and it’ll be amazing.

The problem is that I’m in planning for a new novel. My hero has a specific fear – that he was bred and raised to be a killer. He is secretly afraid that he’ll cross a line and commit an unforgiveable act. If this is his greatest fear, it is my job, as a writer, to drop him right smack in the middle of doing precisely what he’s spent most of his life promising himself he wouldn’t do: betraying the trust of someone he cares about.

You see my issue? I’m in the same spot my critique partner is in – she’s embracing the unforgiveable, reveling in the fact that this terrible thing she’s planning to have one character do to another IS a gross, irredeemable violation. While my hero’s fear centers around his telepathic skill, if he has to invade the heroine’s mind, in order to realize he’s facing his greatest terror, this has to be brutal and terrible and it has to feel irredeemable to him. For part of the story, it may feel irredeemable to the heroine as well.

After the brainstorming session closed down and I got ready for bed, a funny thing began happening. My brain started playing around with The Very Awful Story Action from my CP’s upcoming story. Given: Nasty, horrific, unforgiveable act committed by a main character in a romance. Challenge: How to make it forgiveable so you can eventually get to your Happily Ever After.

Yeah, my brain is a strange place. I can have this massive ‘OMG, that’s so icky, you can’t possibly put that in your story’ reaction to something, only to have stuff start bubbling up hours later about ‘you know, you could totally do that thing you loathed, if…’

Ultimately, I suppose the real question becomes: Just how dark do you want a character’s dark moment (aka black moment) to be? The stronger the character, I suggest, the grimmer his or her reckoning needs to be. So here I am: contemplating how to make irredeemable betrayal redeemable.

Hints welcome. Fireball Whiskey increasingly welcome, too.

Image Source: http://deadmanwalking162.deviantart.com/art/Sith-assassin-168123227

Aloha from Maui!

Hi all!  We’re on spring break in Maui right now and have seen whales, sharks, and some awesome surfers.  Okay, the sharks were in the aquarium, but the rest I saw in the ocean.  I even offered to teach my niece and her friend how to surf since I took surfing as a PE credit in college.  They just laughed.  I mean, really.

Though I did go body boarding with my daughter yesterday.  I woke up today with sand in all sorts of places…and a lot of aches and pains.  So, I’m not sixteen any more?  When the heck did that happen?

Tempted released yesterday and reached higher on the Amazon rankings than I’ve hit before.   So a big thank you to everyone who downloaded it!  It was #76 on Kindle Romance books and #89 on all Romance books.  Very exciting!  Of course, I’ve already received the expected Amazon review that says, ‘it’s too short.’  It’s a novella…it’s supposed to be about 100 pages.  🙂 

If you get the chance to read Tempted, which is Max’s story…let me know what you think.  I hope you like it!

Until next time, I’m off to the beach again.  Even if my body realizes I’m not a teenager any longer, my brain refuses to admit the fact.  Boogey board…here I come!

My favorite villains of all time…

A few weeks ago, I presented a workshop at the Silken Sands Writers’ Conference–it was on crafting killers (making villains to chill and thrill!). I loved doing this workshop because it let me explore some very dark characters–and it also gave me a chance to share a great deal of information that I’d gathered regarding serial killers.

But, a fun aspect of the workshop…I was able to talk about some of my favorite villains. Those bad guys that just grab hold of you and don’t let go.  You know the bad guys I’m talking about. The ones we love to hate.  😉

It turns out that the American Film Institute made a top 50 list of the best villains out there (well, villains in films, anyway).  Here are the top five that made their list:

1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter

2. Norman Bates

3. Darth Vader

4. The Wicked Witch of the West

5. Nurse Ratched

From this top 5 list, I’ll say that I totally agree with Hannibal Lecter being #1. I mean, wow–that guy was scary. But, he was actually more than just scary. His character developed and transformed and became a serious anti-hero by the time Hannibal was released, and when Hannibal Rising came out, folks in the theater were actually cheering Lecter on as he killed.

I also am a big fan of Darth Vader. Come on–talk about your backstory power!  This guy went from good to bad to good. He lost his mother, his wife, his children. He was wicked. He was feared.  And he sacrificed his life for Luke in the end. I love me some Vader. 😉

But my top 5 list wouldn’t include the other 3 folks. (Sorry, AFI!).  Here’s what my top five list would look like:

1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter

2. Darth Vader

3. Freddy Kreuger (Yes, he was burned and flat-out crazy, but he was a killer with a sense of humor, and, big for me–he had a great backstory)

4.  The Mummy (From all the Mummy flicks with Brendan Fraser).  Sure, the guy was bad, but he was bad for love.  And a villain that fights death for love–definitely going to rank on my favorite list.

5.  Annie Wilkes (Misery) – I couldn’t let the guys have all the fun. Women can make for some wonderfully dark and complex villains, too.  And being locked up as someone broke your ankles and forced you to write–um, yes, that is kind of a writer’s nightmare.

But what about you?  What characters would make your top five list of the best villains out there?  And why?

 

Road Trips

Road trips have been a part of my life since I was little. I can remember riding around town with my grandfather who’d point out all the buildings and houses he built. I grew up with my mom taking us on little trips around the area to show us where our family members used to live, where she used to live, went to school, etc. Those were always short trips, but they were enough to get us out of the house. They gave me a strong feeling of belonging, of history.

The road trips didn’t stop with my childhood though. Once my younger brother was older, we’d take jaunts out to the old forts, or plantations, or just anywhere the road would take us. When I got my license, I continued taking trips all over the area seeing where roads led, finding my way around until I knew shortcuts to get to my college. Bonus!

With hurricane season approaching and the chances of evacuating higher, it’s always good to know the back roads. Have you ever been stuck on the interstate during an evacuation? It sucks. What’s normally an hour and a half trip turned into a four+ hour drive. Knowing how to manuever your way north without resorting to the interstate is a big plus when it comes to hurricane season.

But it isn’t all practicality. Sometimes road trips are just pretty. Coming home from the Silken Sands Conference in Pensacola, we didn’t take the interstate. We came home via back roads and saw such pretty country, we vowed to return and explore the area better. That’s what road trips are about, seeing things that you normally wouldn’t see if you have a planned trip.

Now that I write, I need to see more landscapes for my books. I call it research and that’s totally deductible, isn’t it? So there’s a higher purpose to hitting the road without having a destination in mind. I’m looking for places to put my stories. Over the weekend, I found several and I can’t wait to get writing.

So my advice? As much as the gas prices suck, leave the GPS behind and get on the road. Explore your area, see the beauty in the world around you instead of getting caught up in schedules and monotonous interstate travel. It doesn’t have to end up like a scene out of National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.

Destiny

I believe in destiny. I believe some things are fated to happen. That there is a grand design for everything and everyone. I remember the exact day I realized destiny existed. It was the day I picked up my very first Titanic book in fourth grade. By the time I’d finished reading it, I had more questions than answers.

What do you mean the Titanic was on fire? Why didn’t they slow the ship if they received ice warnings? Why didn’t the lookout have binoculars? What about the calm of the sea and the lack of a moon made for “perfect conditions” for which to hide the iceberg?

I set about to answer those questions and didn’t realize it’d lead me to the obsession with the ship that I have today.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Titanic was fated to sink. (Feel free to disagree, but I don’t believe there was anything the Titanic’s officers could have done to save the ship, even before it left port.) But if that’s the case, and the Titanic was truly fated to sink, what else is fated? Do we have a say in anything at all or are we bouncing along a path that’s already been decided for us?

I have a whole list of things that happened that cold April night on my website HERE, if you want to read about the chain of events that led to one of the greatest maritime tragedies in history.

Whether it was inflated ego, man-made error, a blue berg that shouldn’t have been in the vicinity, a flat calm sea, a moonless night, a coal bunker burning from the start of the voyage, a missing set of binoculars, tiller vs. rudder command confusion, whatever…it’s simply hard to believe the events lined up so perfectly out of sheer coincidence.

That’s what I want to know from you today: destiny or chance? What do you believe?

(Also: If you’re interested in going back to Titanic, but don’t want to be swallowed into Jack and Rose’s ill-fated romance, ONE NIGHT TO REMEMBER is my 80 page erotic historical romance that takes place on the Titanic the night it sank. This time the hero and heroine get their happily ever after. It’s currently .99 on Amazon.)

A rhythm to the madness

One of the keys to completing a novel—actually I think this is the biggest, hardest of them all—is the self-discipline to sit down day after day and put words on a page. The story can always be revised, grammar and punctuation learned and corrected, but the act of doing the work consistently and making forward progress, forgiving your errors in favor of reaching THE END, is the ultimate key.

A schedule, a daily rhythm to the madness, is what helps pull me through. When the schedule gets messed up, as it does 80% of the time, it’s hard to find during that remaining 20%. Recently I went to a conference, then I came home to Spring Break—kids everywhere, not an hour free. Today was the kids’ first day back at school (maniacal laughter from their mom), which means my first real day at the computer.

I’ve actually been struggling for a while with my schedule. I’ve always started the day on email and FB, with a little Twitter thrown in. But lately that time online has lengthened into “research” then random surfing. Once my mind is in that skippy, feed-me entertainment zone, it’s an act of herculean proportions to settle into a story.

But I think I may have found the solution. At the conference there was a panel on writing through adversity that has stayed with me. During the discussion, one of the authors (either on the panel or in the room) talked about her schedule, and today I stole it. Bwhahahaha! I am pleased to report seven pages. Today I was a rock star.

The change was simple. I moved my workout from the evening to the morning. In the past I’ve never wanted to give up peaceful writing time for something that I could do later with the kids running wild around me. (Earphones are awesome.) But that author was right. Somehow during a workout my imagination goes to the stories I’m working on. So instead of coasting online and then trying my hardest to buckle down, I gave up 45 min to the elliptical machine (sadistic torture device) and thereafter became galvanized to write.  I’m saved.

Branding

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about branding, and no not the hot poker to flesh kind of branding. I am talking about author branding. I had never but much into author branding until this weekend. I’ve always wrote what struck me and marketed it. Now however, I’m wondering if I should stick with one genre and stay there. Most of you know that I write mainly contemporary western romance and erotic romance. I was told that if I ventured into the romantic suspense that I needed to leave behind my erotic romance. I have missed feelings about this. I am writing a romantic suspense trilogy and really want to publish it. Yet I’m not ready to say goodbye to the genre that I started in. As a reader how do you feel about author branding. If you are reading one author and that author stays in the same setting(cowboys) but moves her story base from erotic to suspense is this a problem for you? As a writer how do you feel about author branding?

thanks everyone

Sayde Grace

Eventful Week

Several things all happened at once yesterday and today.

1. I have a release date for my hot SFR novella called ENEMY MINE from Berkley – April 3rd. I have the cover. It rocks. What I do not have is clearance to post it publicly, yet. 😦  The moment I do, I swear, I will. Along with the back cover copy.

2. I hit the ‘send’ button on a submission to Carina Press just this morning. This is nerve wracking because I’m sending this blind – no one asked for the story – it’s going into the slush pile like everyone else, which is totally appropriate. It just sets off all of those insecurities about whether or not I’ve lost it and can’t actually write my way out of a wet paper bag. Given the rain squalls moving through Seattle right now, it’s not just the paper bag that’s wet.

But it’s the last thing that’s going to cut my post short. Yes, the third thing to happen was food poisoning. 😛 So, I’m taking the adult equivelent of a sippy cup filled with water(Starbucks reuseable cold drink cup with lid and straw!) and crawling back under the covers until this nonsense goes the heck away. You all be careful out there.

Win a copy of Hunted

Hi all!  I’m home sick with the flu/cold deal going around, and am also over at eBookObsessed giving away a copy of Hunted.  Click on the link and leave a comment over there for a chance to win – I’d love to send the book to one of our DT Followers!

I have recovered from New Orleans and Vegas…pretty much…and will soon post some pictures and stories about them.  But for now, guess what?  Publisher’s Weekly just reviewed Hunted – here it is:

The fast-paced third Dark Protectors adventure (after Fated and Claimed) sends vampire prince Conn to Ireland in search of Moira, the witch he claimed as a mate a century before. War between the vampires of the Realm and the deadly Kurjans is heating up, and the vampires need their witch allies more than ever, so it’s vital Conn and Moira get over their differences once and for all. Moira’s reluctant to give in to Conn’s demands, especially when the leaders of her people are vanishing without a trace and she’s the next likely target. Only together can these two unite their races against external threats and internal struggles. Zanetti continues to mix action, passion, and intrigue as she picks up on threads from the previous books. Strong chemistry and steamy love scenes make up for a mildly uneven plot and pseudoscientific hand waving. Agent: Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates. (May)  

So…I’ll take it.  🙂  I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and stays healthy!!!

How do you relax?

When it’s time for me to relax, I like to curl up with a good book. I get lost in the story and forget all about my troubles and the petty problems of the day.

Or, I can get lost in a good TV show (both Castle and The Vampire Diaries immediately spring to mind!).  It’s so easy to get caught up in the action and the suspense–and the romance.  A great way to relax.

We all need time to relax. Time to just let work slide a bit as we take a deep breath…and take it easy.  Whether it’s five minutes that we spend swaying on a hammock or an hour that we spend reading a good book, that time is important. It renews us, energizes us.

This may sound odd, but one of my favorite ways to relax is watching a horror movie.  I know, I know–weird. But the adrenaline rush that I get while I watch–when I scream then laugh at myself–that’s great.  I forget everything but the movie for a few minutes, and it sure is fun.

But what about you?  What’s your favorite way to relax?

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