Monthly Archives: June 2013
So this morning, something dawned on me.
HOLY CRAP. THERE IS A BLOG CALLED DARKER TEMPTATIONS AND I AM SUPPOSED TO BE POSTING THERE EVERY SO OFTEN. WTF HAPPENED?
So here’s what happened. I got a new phone. And, said new phone is not programmed with the neato little reminders that old phone was. You know, the ones that pinged me every other Friday and said “Hey, Moron, go do your blog.”
So, this is me, grovelling and apologizing. I’m really sorry that I flaked out for a couple of Fridays there. It wasn’t intentional, promise!!
So, since those reminders also told me WHAT I was supposed to blog about, I’m sort of flying blind for this post.
“What? Regina winging it? That’s never happened.” *takes off sarcasm hat*
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you guys something free to absolve my guilt. (Hehehehee. Here, kids! I’ll make up for bad parenting by giving you too much stuff.)
I’ll pick one random commenter and send them one FREE ebook! You can pick any of my Ellora’s Cave releases. Here, I’ll just leave you links here in case you want to go ahead and pick out your favorite. 😉 Just click the cover and it’ll take you to the Amazon page.
I’ll run this contest through midnight on Sunday, July 9th. That gives you all weekend to comment! So talk to me below, and tell me how I should punish myself for flaking on my poor Darker Temptations. 🙂
Living aboard a sailboat is more fun than I had ever imagined. However. It is a fact of life that space is limited. Let me reiterate: L I M I T E D. Also? The chores are endless. Thus, faced with unending temptation to procrastinate by pulling up floorboards to scrub bilges or polish the exterior stainless fittings, and with four cats who seem to think I exist solely to fill every empty moment of their lives, I like to get the hell out of Dodge in order to concentrate on getting word count each day.
Two miles from the marina is Miro Tea. It’s nestled in the historic part of Old Ballard. (Old being relative – this IS the west coast.) This is where stone and brick buildings built in the very late 1800s are still standing – and have all been redone to bring them up to earthquake code. Lots of ancient wood floors, funky stone or brick walls and exposed steel I beams reinforcing the structure. This is the artsy district in an otherwise blue collar part of town. This is the long way of saying, that to write, I require tea. Lots of hot, good quality tea.
And music. I pipe the playlist of my choice directly into my brain via a pair of stereo ear buds. Looking for moody, nay — *creepy* music by which to compose your latest Great American Novel? Check out Nox Arcana. Just one example. There are SO many more. Ping me. I’ll hook you up. I collect creepy and then etch it into my gray matter whilst composing. Only one book has no playlist and that one is because the heroine is deaf. For some reason, it seems to matter that I work in silence on her story.
All this said – that I want to be in a part of town I like, surrounded by other people sipping tea and working on *their* thing du jour, nursing a pot of whichever elixir I’ve chosen for the day – I’ll write anywhere, anytime. A few minutes of boredom are all that are required. My brain starts spinning and characters start talking.
The biggest challenge if I write on the boat, is keeping the felines from ‘helping’. My editor has sent back manuscripts with a slew of nonsense highlighted and a note in the margins saying, “Tell the cat to get his own contract.”
Dearest MANhandlers, I saw Henry Cavill in the new Superman. I am far from recovered. Did I mention it was in 3D? Accordingly, I felt the overwhelming need for exceptional pretties this week. I searched far and wide, and I firmly believe the effort paid off. Enjoy!
So many people ask me what my writing rituals are that you’d think I’d be accustomed to the question by now. I’m not. Why? Because no two days are ever the same for me. Due to a back surgery gone wrong and an autoimmune problem, I do most of my writing lying down. Not something I’m comfortable with, but it is what it is. This means I’m home for 98% of my writing efforts. There are a few comforts and one very dark reality that I regularly have around me. These are:
Last September, my beloved husband of 17 years who is a complete techie and a huge supporter of my writing, realized I needed a new computer. My beloved Sony Vaio had become geriatric and wasn’t meeting my needs anymore. He knew I was an Apple lover, so he suggested a MacBook Pro. Then he made it happen. I initially thought I’d have trouble navigating through the setup and behind the scenes stuff. Not so. Now? I can’t live without my Mac. I’m a complete convert. I’m even looking at a MacBook Air for the one or two times a year that I travel. Sick, isn’t it? But it’s true. After the MacAttack came the…
Music is my lifeblood. Seriously. I have playlists for every story I write, whether it’s a novella or a full-length manuscript. I can hear a song that played on repeat during an intense scene and I’m dragged right back into that headspace. When Christmas rolled around last year, the aforementioned husband extraordinaire splurged and bought me a pair of the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 noise canceling headphones. I had a pair the Beats earbuds, so I wasn’t too worked up about the Bose. I’m an idiot. They’re on my head so much I feel naked without them. I even wear them when I write in public places. They. Are. Awesome. But then there’s the…
Lucifer called the other day and left my kitten a voicemail. Apparently Delta had listed some discounted roundtrip tickets to the 9th Circle of Hell and he thought she might like to come home for a visit. Okay, okay. She’s not that bad. And no, the three scars she’s left me with so far weren’t from life-threatening wounds (though to hear her tell it, I’m lucky I still have my limbs). She’s my companion when she sleeps by my side. Then she wakes, her head does a couple of 360’s and it’s game on. There is nothing sacred in this house. We are puppets, she the puppet master. So cute for an Agent of Darkness, no?
While these things are what I like to have around me when I write (the Minion makes for a great villain character study, just ask the dogs), I find that I’ll steal words whenever I can. I carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas or lines or plot bunnies or solutions to problems. I’m forever tweaking at odd hours. This proves one of two things. Either I like my space but am flexible enough to write in spite of my preferences, or I’m certifiable. It’s your call.
I’ve never had a writing space. I probably never will. Here’s my bold statement (not meant to offend those who do) just to explain a perspective. To me, the idea of arranging that perfect writing space is a luxury I personally cannot afford.
I plan and plot to maintain a regular writing time in my life. I work full time at a demanding job, am raising a daughter by myself, have social and other professional obligations that require time, should exercise more than I do, have to cart my kid around. I wake up every morning and write and then sneak it in when I can. My house is small so I don’t have any personal space to do this so just plop myself on the couch in the living room and go. If I spent time getting the space perfect, I would lose even more writing time. So I’ve learned to write wherever I can–on the couch, at a desk, on a plane, in the metro, on an iphone, in a dance waiting room. For me, finding time is more important than getting the “write” space.
If you have a different structure, and you have to keep yourself on track, I understand that ritual and artifacts hold great value for getting writing done. And that’s what this is about–what you need to do to get your writing done. So for me, I just write where I am. Have computer, can write.
My writing process changes and I don’t always do the same thing for each story. But since Gina X. Grant has introduced me to GMC that is the minimum I do for each story.
Last year Debra Dixon came in for a one-day workshop to the Toronto Romance Writers. Debra in an author of fiction and an editor for Bell Bridge Books. But in the romance community she is best known for writing a book called “GMC-Goal, Motivation and Conflict”. It is my bible:). Even if you don’t outline or are a complete pantser, I recommend to at least do the GMC for your heroine, hero and villain. It will keep you much more focused and will answer the all important question: Why?
Since reading the book I always GMC my characters before I do anything else.
In case you are not familiar with GMC, the grid looks something like this:
Wizard of Oz
Dorothy External Internal
Goal Get home (get to emerald city, to find her heart’s desire and a place with no trouble
see wizard, get broomstick)
Motivation Auntie Em is sick (the wizard is there, she’s unhappy and trouble follows her everywhere
he has the power to send her home,
the price for sending her home)
Conflict the witch she doesn’t know what she wants
the balloon lifts off without her
The character can have one overarching goal (get home), but to get there she has to fulfill a number of smaller goals (get to the Emerald City, see the wizard, get the broomstick).
I look at my idea, my characters and what I’m thinking off as the plot and then set out to discover what my heroine’s ultimate goal is, both for the plot of the story and for the internal growth, why she wants to reach these goals and what stands in her way. Every time I do this I gain insight into my character and focus the story.
During the first half of the workshop Debra looked at Vogler’s ‘The Hero’s Journey” (tons of links out there, this is just the first I came across) and how GMC connects to that story structure. I prefer Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet, but looking at GMC for each step of the journey was really interesting. It demonstrated in explicit detail how important it is to know your characters and why they behave like they do. You can’t just have them find a dead body in a ditch ‘because you need that to happen’. At the beginning of the session Debra said to make notes if we liked, but, more importantly, to think of our current WIP and how anything she said affected that. She described how she’d done this wokshop at RWA National and chatted to one of the authors there: the author had six bullet points of notes on the talk, but pages of notes on how it affectd the author’s current project.
Last year I realised that I may have started one of my WIPs in the wrong spot. I like opening with action, so started when the first assassin attempts to kill my heroine, but I didn’t ground the reader in her ordinary world. Think of any films you’ve seen or openings in books, usually you get a moment of insight into the character’s life before everything goes to hell, a grounding into why Lily (my heroine) would jump at the chance to take the dirigible to London and get away from her aunt in San Francisco. So I went back and wrote a scene that, once it’s polished, will hopefully show why she takes this rather drastic step.
During the afternoon Debra looked at the Big Black Moment and walked us through one of her novels. It was amazing! From the very fist time hero and heroine meet the BBM is set up. ‘Compare and Contrast’ was Debra’s favourite phrase. Basically in any way the characters could be on opposite sides of the coin, they were. Not in a heavy-handed way, but in a way that made you think ‘OMG, how are they EVER going to get together?!’ The book was a contemporary romace, looking at family and duty. It really showcased to me that you don’t need demons and the end of the world for there to be conflict on every page of the book.
I am a plantser. I outline what will happen, but then pants the individual scenes. The workshop didn’t necessarily tell me anything I hadn’t heard before, but Debra approached it from a different perspective. I definitely took something away from it and it helped me to clarify some of the steps in my head.
If you’re interested, here’s the link to buy GMC. Or you can just google it, loads of info on the web:). I definitely recommend the book and suggest if you do nothing else before you start the story, determine your GMC.
I have several published book and have been epublishing since 2006. The industry is constantly changing that’s it difficult to come up with hard and steadfast rules for a successful writing career. For what it’s worth, here’s are some tips that I find helpful.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – publish with more than one publishing house. I’ve had houses go under and it’s a bitch to get your rights back, so it’s nice to have income coming in from several sources.
2. Don’t think there’s one way to do something – there are always options, and sometimes rules are meant to be broken. You just need to know when you can break them.
3. Don’t freak out when someone writes a bad review of one of your beloved stories. Writing is subjective. There are best sellers that I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. It doesn’t mean it’s not good but that I just didn’t resonate with the book.
4. The best way to improve your writing is to do it. So keep writing.
5. Limit your critique partners – and be sure they respect your voice.
6. Above all, enjoy the journey – all of it. Have fun with your creative process, be an individual and give yourself permission to be yourself. Not all of us write with a story outline, or crank out three books a month, or spend eight hours a day writing. It’s OK. You are the director of your own movie.
FB and Twitter: VikiLynRomance
I can give to aspiring authors is the same that inspires me to keep writing, keep submitting, keep pushing. It doesn’t come from another author. It comes from an actor. THE actor whose words first nudged me into sending a manuscript into the ether and continues to inspire and encourage me in the most amazing way. A man I had the utmost pleasure of meeting at the start of June, and who is incredible in every which way (yes, I know I’m fangirling. Hush.)
Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.
1. Keep the drama on the page.
I first heard this writing advice from a woman in a Writing Marathon Group. Essentially, the lesson here is to not let your life get so bogged down in drama that you don’t have the emotional room or time to write. Don’t lose your days to bullshit concerns like who said what to whom, or get dragged into making poor choices that end up giving you real life consequences that eat into your mind and erode your ability to get words on the page. If you’re going to have drama in your life? Keep it on the page. Write it into a story where it only hurts your poor, hapless characters; don’t let it hurt you or your productivity.
2. Write for only one person.
I heard this advice only two weeks ago from a friend who heard it from her writing coach. Don’t let the voices of your editors, your friends, the crowd, the reviewers, and the polls about what “our readers” want tell you what you can or can’t write. If you do that, you’ll no longer be able to hear your own inner voice and you’ll be paralyzed with fear. You’ll think things like, “I can’t write this story in first person! Everyone hates first person!” or “I can’t have the other love interest be a woman because the main m/m review sites won’t look at a story if there’s a woman in it, too!”
If you think those thoughts, your creativity dies. It shrivels up into a corner and starts to cry, “Everyone hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” Then it will sit there and refuse to move, letting your miserable writerly self stew in panic over how you can’t write anymore!
Yep, that’s what will happen. So! Write for one person and one person only. No matter who it might be. It’s okay for that person to be your best friend, or that one reader you know will love the concept, or perhaps best and most freeing of all, write it for yourself.
3. Don’t get caught up in ideas of what you should be writing. Write whatever the hell you want to write. Write trash, write smut, write hoity-toity literature, write gay romance, write heterosexual romance, write threesomes, fivesomes, westerns, space-cowboys, write about circuses or trash collectors. Don’t cut yourself off from your creative source by deciding what kind of writer you want to be and sticking only to that.
People will tell you that diversification is bad because your following only wants to read what you’ve fed them in the past. Well, creativity doesn’t thrive on reproducing the same book again and again, and readers will either follow you into something new or or they won’t. Your creativity, though, won’t stick around while you batter it against the same wall again and again. If you do that, what you once loved–writing–will become a dreadful chore.
4. That’s right. It’s okay for your book to not be okay. It’s okay for it to not be perfect or even really good. It’s okay if people don’t like it. It’s okay if it only sells four copies. It’s okay.
Do you know why it’s okay? Because you wrote a motherfucking book! And not everyone does that. You know that quote, right? The one about perfection being the enemy of good? At some point just be done with your book. There’s a ‘good enough’ point that must be reached in order to let your book live in the hands of readers. Bow to that and submit fully to it. Be okay with the outcome. After all….
You wrote a motherfucking book!
5. Make peace with the fact that you’re not Jonathan Lethem or Catherynne Valente or Ernest Hemingway or any writer other than yourself. Make peace with the fact that you’re not going to be in TIME or win a prize. Make peace with that reality and write your books to the very best of your ability–and it might turn out that you were wrong. But even if you weren’t wrong, you wrote a damn book. Good on you!
5. Yep, that’s right. Every book is a new creature and you’re going to have to face that fact. Don’t let the new and daunting stop you from going forward. Every writer struggles at times, some books are easier than others, and you just have to keep on keeping on.
6. What’s the most important thing to do as a writer? We all know the answer. The single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer is…*drum roll*…
FINISH YOUR WORK!!!!!
That’s right. That’s the single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer. Why’s that? Because if you finish nothing then you’ll never sell anything either. You have to start somewhere and that means you’ve got to have a finished product. Embrace “good enough” and finish your book. Don’t get overly distracted by the pretty, shiny of a new idea, or let yourself quit when the going gets tough. If you get bored, come at it from a new angle, introduce a new point of view, or throw away part of it. Embrace the rewrites. Just don’t quit and don’t stop. Finish. Your. Work.
Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look for Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.
So I’m supposed to be all erudite and wise on our blog this week and lay out some tips for writers. Huh…okay. Although I’ve had a (I think) respectable number of pieces published—seventeen to date, with two more due out this year so far—I still think of myself as learning how to be a successful professional author.
And it doesn’t help when the landscape of publishing seems to change every time we look at it.
So, bearing all that in mind, here are my general tips for writers, and I’m afraid there probably won’t be any you haven’t heard before. And yes, as the title suggests, it’s all up to you.
1) Read. Figure out what you like and, more importantly, why you like it. This will help you decide where you want to concentrate your efforts, because if you don’t love the genre you’re writing in, it’ll show.
2) Study your craft. I really wanted to do ‘control+b’, ‘control+u’, ‘ALL CAPS’ when I wrote that, but I know that’s the editor in me. Oh, what the hell… STUDY YOUR CRAFT. There, I feel better. Here’s the thing…we can get away with a lot of stuff as authors when it comes to the quality of our books. This is not a new phenomenon, no matter what anyone says. There have been many very successful hack writers over the centuries, so let’s not pretend the publishing of mediocre books is caused by the internet or the new publishing culture. We often sacrifice quality for speed, or to be able to seize an opportunity we fear won’t wait or come again. That’s fine, but is no excuse for stopping learning and growing, so as to improve your writing. When your editor (be it at a publishing company or the freelancer you’ve hired) points out something you consistently do incorrectly, take it as a lesson and take it to heart. Having pride in your work doesn’t only mean being able to say you’re published, but also in being able to know you’re getting better and better.
3) Determine for yourself what success looks like. Don’t let what others are doing or saying make you lose focus. Figure out what it is you want and work toward that goal. Now, there are many ways to measure success, and there is nothing wrong with any of them, as long as it’s what you want. Some people want a traditional publishing contract, others just want to be able to say they’re published, however that’s achieved. Some are in it to say they make art, others want to make money, or any combination of the previous. Whatever will make you feel successful, go for it.
4) Accept the fact we can’t all be superstars. No, I mean that, and say it with all due respect. BUT…this ties in to what I was saying above…we don’t all have to be superstars to be successful. Again, it all depends on your definition of success. If there was some way for me to make a good living without anyone knowing my name, I’d be quite happy to go that route. Hmmm…maybe I should take up ghost writing…
5) Finally, take your writing career seriously but yourself not so much. This is very important for your sanity and that of the people around you. Believe me. Please. Keep the drama for your plots.
Now, I’m off to research ghost writing 🙂