Monday, October 31, 2005

Character Motivation

On this writing journey, one of the things I struggle the most with is GMC: Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. Actually, establishing a character's goal(s) is the easiest part. Motivation comes harder.

Motivation is the driving force behind the goals. Why does the character want this goal? Just about any goal is possible as long as you help your reader understand why the character does what he does, why he makes the choices he makes. The character must have compelling reasons for every action he takes. As the writer, you must show the character will walk into danger because he has no other choice. The motivation must be urgent, or no one will care.

The motivation must make sense. Too often, writers have their characters making choices that just make the character TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). And, remember, the characters are people. People generally will take the easiest action available to them. So, in order to get out of a burning building, if a character has the choice of merely walking through the front door or climbing up a ladder, across a beam, and jumping out of a second story window, you'd better have a compelling reason for the character to not escape via the front door.

It's just like in a horror movie (which I've been watching quite a few of here lately. Yay Halloween!). Everyone in the audience knows the monster is in the basement, yet there goes the hero down the stairs. How often have you found yourself yelling at the TV screen, "No! Don't go down there!"? Probably as frequently as I have. If the hero is going down there and you don't know why, he's TSTL. But... if the heroine is down there, or the hero's brother, then he has a compelling reason to go where everyone knows the monster is. Instead of rooting for the monster (because the dummy hero deserves to die if he goes down there), you're on edge for the hero, wondering how he's going to triumph over evil.

Writing isn't easy. It's a mixture of creativity and logic that sometimes defies description. But, done right, it's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NaNoWriMo and No Plot? No Problem!

Over the last few days, in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I read the book "No Plot? No Problem!" written by the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty. His philosophy: you don't have to have all the intricacies of a plot worked out before you write. Some of the gaps can be filled in during the rewriting process.

That's not to say that you don't have to do some work before you actually sit down at the keyboard. You do need to have the basics: your characters with an at least brief character sketch (who are they, what do they want, why do they want it, what gets in the way of their getting what they want...), a general idea of a plot arc (which he says is not as intimidating as it seems. Uh-huh.), and setting. Although, he says, if you don't have a plot, don't worry. Plot is nothing more than the actions of your characters as they move through the story. The plot will happen as your characters interact with each other and their surroundings. You just have to let it happen.

The whole point to NaNoWriMo is that you write. You don't edit, you write. If you get stuck on a scene, make some type of note there that tells you this part needs work (type something in caps or highlight the text) and move on. Keep notes of ideas and dialogue that pops in your mind that can be used later on in the book.

I'm psyched about this. I'm also a little scared. 50,000 words in 30 days. Less than that, if you take away a weekend day here and there and Thanksgiving Day. What has me frightened is that I participated in a Book In A Week (BIAW) several months ago, and what I wrote ended up being crap. Of course, this was something I wrote having no idea of plot arc or what happened in the middle of the book. I had my characters, an idea of how the book began and a vague idea of how it ended, and the setting. This story is in the process of being rewritten, and it's going to be very different in its second incarnation than it's first. It has been a painful--and educational--process.

Two more days, and the madness of NaNoWriMo starts. I hope my sanity survives.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Keep in Writing Shape

I recently read an article in a special "Get Published" booklet published by The Writer Magazine. The author, Michael P. Geffner, spoke of the things the serious writer needs to do: networking, deadline pressure, read, make friends with other writers, and other things. He charged us to be proactive. "Action breeds action. Don't be lazy for even one moment. Be relentless in your writing."

The part that hit me, because I seem to be having some difficulty with it of late, was "Write something every day. No matter what. Forget that you're tired or don't feel like it. You're supposedly a writer. So write. Don't be a pretender. And don't even think about that dreaded aspect of all things creative: writer's block. If you're convinced you have writer's block, just write about it. Write about why you think you're blocked. Trust me, this'll snap you out of it in a hurry. Remember, all writers, from Tolstoy to Hemingway to Stephen King, have written badly before they wrote well."

I refuse to be a pretender. There are too many years behind me where writing was a hobby, or took a back seat to my "real" job. So, I write. And, yes, there are days when the story just won't come. On those days, I plot. I read. I blog. And, of course, I angst. I am an artist suffering for my craft, after all. But then I read some more. And plot some more. And, on most of those days, I write. I give myself permission to write crap. Sometimes it's stuff that I can keep to refer back to as story or character history. Sometimes it goes in the recycle bin never to be seen again. And sometimes, on rare occasions, I glean a kernel or two that I can keep.

Because, when it's ready to go out to readers, it has to be as near to perfect as I and an editor can make it.

Write on!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Shara Lanel - Again!

Twice in one week! Shara Lanel has another story out, this time with Heatwave Romance.

A little bit about this short book: Adriana has had her eye on her sexy co-worker Gareth, but one disastrous date reveals his problem--Gareth is hopelessly shy around women. Adriana decides it's time to "Try a Little Magic" on Gareth, in the form of a sex spell designed to relax his inhibitions and get him to obey Adriana's every command. She's pretty sure it will work, though she's never tried it before, but what will the sexy man think after he "awakens" from the spell to find himself naked in Adriana's bedroom?

The review at Fallen Angels: "This is a hot little interlude, and you’ll need to make sure you keep properly hydrated so that you don’t overheat during these seven sexually charged pages. Readers will enjoy the flashes of personality that these characters display, and you’ll soon find that the summer sun is nothing compared to the heat given off in Try a Little Magic."

Go get it, now!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My First Author Chat

Last night I had my first official chat as a Whiskey Creek Press Torrid author. Lucky for me, there were only a couple of readers and about five or six other authors, so it was pretty easy. I got to blurb about my two stories with WCP that come out next year, and managed to do it intelligently. (I think.) There's got to be something to the idea that you don't drink prior to the author chat (right, Jenna and Kate?).

And it was fun, if a little confusing at times when there were two or three different discussions going on at the same time. I gotta tell you, there are some wild and wacky people writing for WCP Torrid. And I'm happy to be one of them! (Writers for Torrid, not necessarily the wild and wacky part. I'm actually a rather reserved person.)

There seem to be a lot of new authors joining the author loop, as well. That bodes well for WCP's growth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Struggle

All the best intentions in the world will not put words on a page. It was a complete slog through the peanut butter yesterday. Every word was grudgingly pulled from my miniscule fount of creativity.

It's so doggone frustrating. I have other stuff to get to. I am still completely immersed in this story, so I know I'm on the right track. But, have I met The Wall? A huge peanut butter wall?

I hope not. If I have, I guess I need to get out the sledgehammer. Or an ice pick. I never know if it will be easy or hard to chip away at the block. Maybe a butterknife, but chip I must. I have deadlines. Self-imposed, but they are deadlines, nonetheless. I have to move forward. Knife in hand, I'll make peanut butter sandwiches from this stuff 'til it's gone.

Anyone have some jam?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Release From Shara Lanel

One of my writing buddies, Shara Lanel, has her new book available at Liquid Silver Books. Run over there right now and pick this up. She's a very talented writer, and you're sure to love her stuff.

Diera Rand dreams of dead people; dead people who open their eyes. Funny thing is, they always have the same eyes. Holt Pendragon dreams of being buried alive, while a red-haired witch hovers over him casting a spell. When he meets red-haired Diera, she's skulking in her car with a camera, investigating the disappearance of her boss’s daughter, and Holt is the one dancing around in a circle of witches, not her. Diera hates witches. But she needs Holt’s help to find the missing girl who has been sucked in by a High Priest working dark magic. Will Diera and Holt overcome their differences to find the girl--and maybe get in a little sex magick in between?

Now, a little about me. (It is my blog, after all. And here, it's all about me.) Yesterday I talked about procrastination. And my goals. I had huge intentions of writing all day. Wouldn't you know, about mid-morning, I realized I had the beginnings of a urinary tract infection? Talk about not being able to get much writing done. Between running to the bathroom because I felt like I needed to go, and running to the bathroom because I felt like I needed to go and really did need to go... well, it was rather difficult to concentrate. (I know, I know. TMI.)

I did manage to write just over 2,100 words on the short story, which puts me at just about the half-way mark. (Maybe it was a good thing, this bladder infection, because I apparently did just fine in between trips to the bathroom.)

Now, if I could just use the laptop while I'm on the potty... imagine what I could do!

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's a New Day!

Last week I was fairly non-productive. With my writing, at least. I spiffied up my website and blog to the point where I don't think they can be spiffied much more. By me, anyway. I have reached the level of my abilities.

So, this week, I have one less thing to let me procrastinate with my writing. Not that, after my RWA chapter meeting on Saturday, I really feel like procrastinating. I'm jazzed. It's time to sit down with a glass of iced tea and start typing. I have two things to finish in the next 6 days: a short story and a rewrite of a novel for a (requested!) submission to Ellora's Cave. That's a tall order, especially since I'm only about halfway finished with the novel. But, starting November 1st, I'm participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and will have at least 50,000 words to write on a new story. This week, then, I must not be distracted. I must refrain from checking my email every 10 minutes or so.

Of course, now that I know that a Yahoo! search on my name gives MY website as the first "hit"... there you go. Yet another distraction. But, yay me! A Google search shows me at #2 and #4, in conjunction with my contest placement with the FF&P contest, and my position as contest coordinator with Passionate Ink. So I have yet to "arrive" at Google.

But, just a few weeks ago I wasn't showing up at all on either search engine, so it's all progress.

Now, as soon as I realize that my blog could become a procrastination tool, I'll get off it and start writing...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My RWA Chapter Meeting

I don't usually blog twice in the same day, but of course I had to give credit to Caz for this gorgeous website. She's very talented and patient. Someone stole the design I wanted. (That's me, whining. Sorry, Kate.) No problem, she replies. What do you think of this one?

It's great. It's perfect. Except, um, it's a little too small.
(whine. Two guesses who this is.) No problem, she says. Try this one set at higher resolution. A gem. That's what Caz is. An absolute gem. Takes a complete crybaby stranger under her wing and makes her blog look incredible. Thank you again, Caz. You're beautiful.

Today's blog is about yesterday's RWA chapter meeting. I wanted to jot down my thoughts while it was still fresh in my mind. Christie Ridgway was so incredibly informative I'm still trying to take it all in. She talked about having a killer first chapter. Begin where the trouble begins. By the end of chapter one, the reader should know what the character's goal is, should see that the character is driven to restore balance, and have a very good idea of what obstacle(s) lie in the character's way. She talked about conflict: inner conflict that the hero and heroine each feel; external conflict (obstacles) that come their way; and conflict between the two. The conflict between the two is how they look at problems differently, i.e., the fireman and the arsonist, or the cop and the thief.

The conflict is not about them falling in love. After all, in a romance, that's pretty much a given. No, the conflict between the two is about why they can't fall in love... why they're afraid to act on the love they feel. And, of course, the hero and heroine must have a chemistry that pushes them through the conflicts. Readers will see there's something special between these two characters.

You must make the reader care about the characters, or they won't keep turning the pages. Romance is, for the most part, character-driven more than plot-driven. Not to say you can forego a plot. But the characters are why the reader has picked up the book to begin with.

It's up to you to make sure you write something that isn't a frustrating wall-slammer.

Look At Me Now!

Thanks to the extremely talented Caz, my blog is heating up! I was turned onto this talented designer by my writing buddy Jenna Howard, who discovered Caz's website several days ago. I emailed Caz and asked if she'd be putting up any other templates with a romantic theme. She responded to me right away. (Can I just say here how much I love the Internet and the way it's made the world so much smaller? Caz is in Australia; I'm in the Southwestern U.S.) She told me she was, in fact, working on another template and it should be up within the day. She then emailed me when it was ready.

The only problem was... one of my other writing friends, Kate Lang, snapped it up for her blog. Aargh. So, there goes another email to Caz. Please, I begged her (and it's a good thing it was via email, cuz me begging is not a pretty sight), please tell me you're still working on the erotic templates you mentioned. Because Kate stole mine.

Superwoman Caz emailed me a template and offered me first dibs on it, before she made it public. And gave this less-than-expert person instructions on how to download the code.

Caz, honey, you ROCK! My blog is beautiful. If ever I wax less than poetic (which will probably be often), at least people can gaze at the picture and enjoy that.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rubbing Elbows With Success

My local RWA chapter is hosting Christie Ridgway at our meeting today. Last night a small group of us got together and had dinner with her. Christie has over 20 books out on the market. I also sat near one of our chapter members, Roz Denny Fox, who has over 30 published books to her credit.

It was interesting and inspiring, sitting near these two ladies. Christie and I talked a little about graphical standards and the definition of romance (Christie was on the committee to review and recommend direction on graphical standards). She was very open and welcoming of erotic romance and indicated that everyone on that committee was as well. The recommendation they made to the incoming Board was, basically, to live and let live. Embrace erotic romance because it is here to stay. It is a fast-growing segment of the romance market.

Roz and I talked about blogging. Her editor wants her to have a blog. Roz doesn't want one. With four books coming out in 2006, I can agree with her that she doesn't have time. Especially since she is "guest" blogger on at least two sites. My recommendation: on her website, point her fans to those websites if they want to read her blog ramblings.

I plan to pay particular attention at our meeting today. (Not that I don't ordinarily!) Even though Christie doesn't write erotic romance, she writes romance. I can learn a lot from her.

And, as I've said here more than once, a big part of being a writer is being a learner.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Beat Goes On

My friend Maya Reynolds blogged about this a day ago or so. It bears repeating: Harlequin has announced that it's getting into e-books. Good news, right? The giant of the romance publishing industry has finally jumped into the 21st century. Writers everywhere, rejoice.

Well... maybe. Harlequin is talking about offering an advance of $2,ooo-$4,000 and royalties of 6%. Six percent. Ellora's Cave, Whiskey Creek Press, Loose-Id, etc., they're all offering 35-40%. Hmm. 35%. Or 6%.

Not a tough call, right?

Well... maybe it is. I mean, it's Harlequin. It could mean 6% of $100,000 in sales versus 35% of $1,000 in sales. It could. As a fledgling publishing author, would I turn that down? Would I turn it down if I were multi-published? This could be the best thing to come down the pike in a long time. It could. It could also erode what the electronic publishers are doing and be completely the wrong thing for writers. If the e-pubs are able to offer 35% in royalties with no advances, why can't Harlequin? Or, at a minimum, offer something a bit closer to what is 'industry standard'. What the e-pubs have already established.

I'm hoping that RWA wades in on this and does what it was founded to do: advocate for writers. Try to guide the industry so that writers and their careers are advanced or at the very least protected. This is real. It could be a real problem.

We'll all be watching this very closely.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More Good News From My Friends!

Kate Lang received one of the best birthday presents yesterday that a writer can get: an offer to contract the two short stories she submitted to Whiskey Creek Press - Torrid for their new Torrid Teasers line.

From the group of us who took that on-line class from Jan Springer in February of this year, three of us now have contracts with Whiskey Creek Press - Torrid. While we all have talent (more on some days than others), I do want to give credit where credit is due.

First, to Jan for being such a great teacher. All of us learned A LOT from that class. Most of us also got revved up to be serious (or more serious) about our writing. The participants of the class formed a support/critique group, which is where the rest of the credit is given.

We started out calling ourselves Brazen Hussies. We write erotic romance, after all. Recently we became aware that there is a group of three authors who have a website and as a group call themselves Brazen Hussies. So we switched to Brazen Vixens. We support each other not just in our writing, but in our lives. Have a spouse, parent or other family member of friend who's being less-than-supportive? Vent to the Vixens. Have a boss who's being a real you-know-what? Vixens will listen. Need to get advice on what to do about anything? Hey, the Vixens don't hesitate to offer opinions.

I am incredibly psyched for Kate. It's the best feeling in the world, to be able to say you've got a contract for your work. It's even better when you have two!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

There's a Method...?

One of my writing friends, Kate Lang, posted yesterday her frustrations with plotting, GMC, characterization... yada, yada, yada. You've heard it from me, too. Get a great idea (usually the characters come to me first, with maybe a couple of scenes) and you're ready to go. You boot up the computer and start typing as fast as your fingers can go.

Several pages into it (and sometimes after you've written 45,000 words or so), you discover that what you wrote is crap. Oh, the words are pretty, and you've got some great one-liners in there that really make the reader (or critiquer) sit up and take notice. I almost always get a few "Ha!" or "I love this!" type of comments from my critique partners. But then comes the "why would the heroine do this? It doesn't make sense" and the "why is the hero thinking this?"


Well, I've already told you how I've completely scrapped the current wip I'm working on. Started rewriting it, via cut and paste/splice and dice, add a bit here, take a bit out there... Got to about 23,000-24,000 words and thought, well, this is crap, too. This ain't gonna work.

So, I stopped and thought about GMC some more. And decided to try this with a novel log. Make notes every day about the scene I'm going to write. Make a contract with myself to write a certain number of words. So far, so good.

But --and here's the good part -- after I'd thrown together most of the GMC, I bounced some of my ideas off my critique partners and they helped me fine-tune it. It makes sense now. Now, I can sit down to write.

Writing is a lonely business. But to have friends who are there when you need them, who understand what you're trying to accomplish, who gently and with love prod you until you're headed in the right direction (sometimes a complete 180)... priceless.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jenna Howard

My friend Jenna Howard has her first book being released today by Liquid Silver Books. Midnight Hour is the story of a woman running from her past and the man who won't let her. I had the privilege of being one of Jenna's critique partners on this one and, I have to say, go buy this book RIGHT NOW. I've got first dibs, but they've got plenty of "copies."

And, whenever you get a chance, check out Jenna's blog. I guarantee you'll get a laugh... and you might even learn something.

Jenna also has a short story coming out in January 2006. Thawing Winter is the story of a young woman determined to make something of her life, dragging her sisters kicking and screaming with her. And, of course, there's a hot bad boy who's gonna make sure that her life includes him. Mark your calendar to go to Whiskey Creek Press - Torrid in January to purchase the anthology Winter Wishes so you can check out Thawing Winter. (I got to critique this one, too. It's definitely on my to-buy list!)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Website Is Done!

Now I have one less excuse to use for why I'm not writing. Damn. But check it out here.

The one thing I have to figure out is how to get pictures up on the site without using up a lot of whatever. (Can you tell I have barely a clue what I'm doing here??) I have one pic up on my Books page--the cover of Dragon's Bane that's due to be released in July 2006. When I get ready to publish my webpages, the analysis says that the pic is too big. Someone with slow dial up will take almost a minute for that pic to download. But... I don't know how to make it smaller or faster. I guess at some point in this journey I'm on, I'll learn that, too. It's not going to be a huge priority, frankly.

Today my goal is to write for at least four hours. If they're productive, that should equate to about 5,000 words. Whether or not those words are any good will be anyone's guess. I've got a deal with my Muse. I can't tell anyone what it is--it's a secret. It's like a birthday wish. If you tell what you wished, it won't come true.

Time will tell...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Are All The Muses On Vacation? Or Just Being Stubborn?

Where have all the muses gone, long time passing?
Where have all the muses gone, long time ago?

I don't know what the heck is going on. First one of my writing buddies, Jenna Howard, posted a blog about her absentee Muse, now mine seems to have gone AWOL as well. I had a devil of a time yesterday. Oh, I met my word count goal, but it was, as another of my writer friends, Kate Lang, says, like wading through peanut butter. I struggled for every word. I finally gave it up. Today I probably won't do any writing. I'll be spending most of the day with my brother, looking over my website to see what we can do to improve it.

I'll be back in the trenches on Sunday.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Electronic Publishing Versus Print Publishing

Reading Miss Snark's blog today, I was struck by the tone in the post regarding electronic publishing (e-publishing, or e-pub). Most (if not all) e-pubs first publish a book in electronic format (PDF, HTML or other medium). If the book is popular enough, they will make it available in print format via Print On Demand (POD).

Regarding POD, Miss Snark had this to say: "...if someone tells me they've been published by a small house that uses POD, the burden of proof for "is it crap" shifts to them. I assume it is; you have to prove otherwise."

When I first read this, I thought, Holy ****! I'm breaking into the industry via electronic publishing. It's hard enough to prove to an agent or a publisher that I don't write crap when I'm not published; now, even though I'm published, I STILL have to prove I don't write crap?! Oy vey!

Then, while I was trying not to hyperventilate, some names hit me: Angela Knight. Mary Janice Davidson. Kate Douglas. These are all authors who either got their start in e-pubs or have e-pubs out there, and now are published with the big NY print houses. So, while I would never say that Miss Snark doesn't know what she's talking about, at least I know that making a successful shift from e-pub to non-POD print pub can be done.

There are some e-pubs out there that I believe wouldn't do my career any good at all (and shall remain nameless). But there are legitimate, successful e-pubs that would look mighty good on my resume. Those are the ones I'm targeting, because to be published by them means you're not writing crap.

How do I weed out the great, the good and the bad e-pubs? By being a consumer. I purchase books from them and read them. If I like the author's style and there are no typos or other errors, the book "makes sense" (i.e., that darned dreaded GMC has been figured out logically), then it's an e-pub I'm interested in. If not... cross them off my list (both the author and the publisher).

Now I'm off to write my 2,000 words for today. More, if my Muse is in the house.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Writer's Angst, continued...

... because, you know, you can't angst in just one day.

I spent roughly 8 hours yesterday re-establishing the GMC for my major characters. I think I've just about got it. Plus, I worked out a sequence of scenes to support the story. I have more work to do scene-wise, but I'm feeling better. I have a much better understanding of my characters and what makes them tick. The feel of this book is already much different than the first draft. About the only things that stayed the same were the characters and setting.

But that just supports what I've been saying all along. Being a writer is first and foremost about being a learner. Learn what works, and what doesn't. Keep what works, throw out all the rest. It's just a damned shame that 45,000 words are going into the crapper. (Figuratively speaking. I can't ever bear to really throw out something I've written. I just might be able to use some of it at some other time.) But to make this book what it needs to be, what it should be, I've gotta start from scratch.

Today is a brand new day. Today is the day I begin to re-write the book. As long as my Muse doesn't fail me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Writer's Angst

Okay, so I'm in the midst of this rewrite, yes? I have 21,000 words and I'm clicking along. Then I think, "I've boxed my heroine into a corner." Here's why: She has issues because of abandonment by her father and an abusive stepfather. She doesn't trust any man enough to really let him close to her. So, issues with sex. She has it, but usually doesn't get emotionally involved, because that's when she can get hurt. On top of that, her ex-boss is a werewolf and wants to make her one, too, so she can have his puppies, er, babies. Her friend puts her in touch with his cousin, the hero, who, unbeknownst to the heroine, is also a werewolf. When she finds out, after they've had sex the first time, well, she's not a happy camper. Her goal: find a way to defeat the werewolf. (The first one, not the hero.) Her motivation: she doesn't want to be a breeder. Her conflict: She falls in love with a werewolf. My problem is, I can't figure out how to piece it all together. How do I get her to get her act together?

And let's not talk about the hero. Okay, since you insist, let's. His primary goal: to be left alone; secondary goal: to help the heroine, initially so he can get her out of his hair, then because he's drawn to her and as the hero can't do anything except help her. His motivation: no idea. His conflict: no idea. sigh My Alpha werewolf is turning into a wimp right before my eyes.

thunk That was my head hitting my desk. It's times like these when that little voice inside me starts going on about what a hack I am, I don't have a clue how to write, and why do I even bother? I gave myself yesterday afternoon and evening to angst over it. Today, once I get back from a doctor's appointment and errands, I'm going to do something about it. I'm pulling out Deb Dixon's GMC (for the twentieth time), re-reading notes of the two classes I'm taking this month, and I am going to chart this out. I'm not answering the phone, I'm not turning on the TV and, if I can restrain myself, I'm not checking emails until I am done.

I'm a good writer. I have a beautiful book cover with a reputable electronic publishing company for a novella that comes out next year. I'll have at least one short story out next year. I can do it. I can.

Now, if I can just get my characters to cooperate...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rewriting Really Hurts

So I'm in the process of rewriting this manuscript, cutting and pasting, adding here, deleting there. Spent several hours yesterday devoted to that endeavor, only to finally admit that it wasn't gonna happen. The frickin' thing needs to be completely rewritten. Oh, I think I can save the first two chapters, but everything else... slashed and burned. Oy vay. It really hurt.

Really. Hurt. Like sticking-a-finger-in-my-eye hurt.

But I am determined this will get done. I saved just over 20,000 words, so I'm really just writing a novella at this point. Another 25,000 words or so and I'll be there. Stay focused on GMC, forget about the words that were and write the words that are.


Monday, October 10, 2005

More GMC

I'm in the process of taking two on-line classes: "Love Scenes With Emotional Punch" with Shelley Bradley, and "How To Write An EroRom" with Angela Knight.

These classes come at a most opportune moment, while I struggle with GMC.

What are my characters' goals? In my current work in progress (wip), my heroine, Taite, is on the run from her former boss, who's a werewolf and wants to turn her so she can be his mate and make lots of werewolf babies. Taite is not signing on to be a supernatural brood mare, um, wolf. A friend puts her on the trail of the hero, Damon, who, as a highly successful horror novelist, has years of research about werewolves. He's considered an expert on the subject. What Taite doesn't know, what her friend, the hero's cousin, doesn't tell her, is that the hero is a werewolf. So is the cousin.

Do you begin to see the conflict?

Taite and her mother were abandoned by Taite's father when Taite was young. It wasn't long before Taite's mother remarried. The new husband was verbally abusive and controlling, turning Taite's mom into not much more than a slave. Taite vowed she would never give up control to a man. She'd never trust one enough. I mean, the two most important men in her life to this point have betrayed her. Then along comes her boss, who ultimately betrays her trust and puts her life in danger. Damon, on the other hand, is a very dominant lover. Not only is it an incredible turn-on for him to have his lover put her emotional and physical responses in his hands (so to speak), he believes it's necessary. His control slipped once during lovemaking with his former fiancee and his Wolf broke free. He hasn't been able to forget the look of horror and fear on her face and has vowed to never put another woman--or himself--through that again.

More conflict. Her needs conflict with his needs.

Okay. So how do these two people end up in bed together?

I'm still working on that. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Writing Is Lonely

It's been said that the writer's life is a lonely one. Most writers, unless writing with a partner, work alone. They research alone, they plot alone, they write alone.

Which is why writer's groups are so important. Whether physical ones or electronic ones, I need to be able to reach out and get support for a variety of reasons. Maybe I'm stuck on a plot point and need to bounce an idea off of someone. Or I'm just having a really bad day and need to cry on someone's shoulder. There are things that only another writer will understand. And family much of the time just doesn't get it. Not their fault--I'm learning about the publishing process as I go along, too. But I'm not expecting to write and sell the next Great American Novel and start living the life of a queen off the royalties. I am expecting to work hard, to write well, and to establish a good reputation. I want to be on readers' "must buy" list.

And I'll share my successes (and failures) with my writing buddies. I currently belong to one RWA chapter that is local. I attend the meetings every month, rubbing elbows with published and unpublished authors alike. I also belong to three online chapters: Passionate Ink, RWA's only erotic romance chapter; Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal (FF&P), RWA's paranormal chapter; and RWAOnline, the first online chapter of RWA. They each give me something different as far as resources, but they all give me one much-needed thing: support.

If you're a writer and you don't belong to a writer's group, I encourage you to join one. There are many out there for specific genres or regions (and this is not an endorsement of any one particular group; do your research!): Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Christian Writers Fellowship International, Horror Writers Association, International Association of Crime Writers, Midwest Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Society of Southwestern Authors, Southeastern Writers Association, Writer's Guild of America. There are many more. Do your research. But find a group (or groups) that fulfill your needs.

Writing is a lonely business. But it doesn't always have to be.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My First Cover!

I ordinarily don't blog more than once a day, but this is a very special day!

This is the brand new cover of my first novella, Dragon's Bane. The book will be available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid in July 2006.

The cover artist, Jinger, pulled the images straight from my brain, I swear. It's a beautiful thing.

Thank you, Jin!

What Makes A Great Hero?

As I take this writer's journey, every day I learn to write better. With each endeavor, I create tighter action, better dialogue, more believable characters. Heroines who are strong and capable, yet with enough flaws to keep their particular hero interested.

And what about that hero? What makes him great?

First, like the heroine, he must have flaws. Although he can be stop-your-heart gorgeous (and that's not necessarily a requirement), he has to be more than another pretty face. He has to have a past that has made him the man he is today. Maybe he's stubborn, or quick to anger, or overprotective. With all of that, though, he has to have redeeming virtues as well. He must be courageous. That goes without saying. No one--reader or heroine--is going to fall in love with a wuss. It's imperative that he be honorable. He can be rough and ready, but he must have a code of honor that he adheres to strictly. And it goes without saying that he's passionate and good in the bedroom. I mean, we are talking EroRoms here, right?

Above all, the heroine is what matters. Especially once he's realized the depth of his feelings for her. He will lay his own life on the line to protect her. He will even kill to protect her. And, if it came down to it, he'd give her up if it meant she'd be safe, or happy.

That's what heroes do.

The heroine would kick his ass before she'd let him put himself in danger for her or walk away because he thought it would be the best thing for her.

That's what heroines do.

Friday, October 07, 2005

There's No Rest For The Weary

Over the last 4 days I have written, edited, and submitted a 7k short story to Whiskey Creek Press - Torrid for their Spring Flings anthology. (I already had a working plot and characters from an earlier story that was accepted by Torrid for their Torrid Teasers.)

Now, I'm on to rewriting the story that was critiqued by that editor. I think I've successfully reworked the plot and GMC. My heroine, I hope, is no longer TSTL. Over the next few weeks I will focus my energy on getting this second draft finished and ready for submission. I already have my November project: participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). The story idea I'm kicking around (which my Muse gave to me a few weeks ago at around 3 a.m.) is sounding more and more like chick-lit. Oy. I've never attempted chick-lit. AND it's sounding like it's gonna be in first-person, which I've never tried, either. I really like getting into the hero's POV in my stories and, when writing in first person, you just can't do that. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I have a few more ideas bouncing around in my head for more short stories for Torrid anthologies. Hopefully I can juggle all of these characters demanding writing time without turning into a blithering idiot.

We'll see how that goes, too.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

When the Muse Strikes...

...ya gotta listen. That's why I'm up at 1:00 a.m. (Well, that and the call of nature, if you know what I mean.)

My Muse, I have to say, is very stubborn. Sometimes, she's not satisfied with the pad and lighted pen I have at my bedside (there for just such times as these. No need to turn on a bright light; just click the light on the pen, grab the pad, and start writing.). Sometimes, she has so much to share that I have to get up and get on the laptop. Even though it's very early in the morning, I am wide awake and feeling somewhat intelligent.

And so, M&Ms at my side (because if I have to be up at 1:00 a.m., I'm gonna eat chocolate), I am ready to write. Hopefully my Muse will give me something good. The last time she did this to me, it was darned good stuff. I have to believe it will be just as good this time, too.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


What exactly is Erotic Romance (EroRom)?

Let me start by telling you what it is not. It is not porn. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, porn is a medium primarily used by men for straightforward sexual gratification. The titillation factor, so to speak. Slam, bam, thank you ma'am. EroRom is not erotica. Erotica is concerned with the sexual interaction of the characters. There may or may not be romance involved, but if there is, it is a by-product, not the focus.

EroRom is romance with sizzle. The focus is entirely upon the hero and heroine's relationship. Sex between the two moves the story forward, is crucial to their development, both individually and as a romantic pair. The reader is brought into the bedroom with the characters, not stopped with the door closing in their face and having to leave the rest up to their imagination or, worse yet, wade through soppy euphemisms. Happily ever after (or the promise of) is a must.

A good EroRom has a solid plot, believable characters with believable motivations and flaws. There are the normal sub-genres, just like you'd find in traditional romances: paranormal, time travel, contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, romantic suspense, etc. To read really good EroRom, check out Angela Knight, Cheyenne McCray, Lora Leigh, and MaryJanice Davidson.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Let's Talk About Critique Groups

One of the most invaluable resources I have at my fingertips is an on-line critique group. There is a core group of about 5-7 erotic romance writers who willingly critique my work. They are very careful how they word things--never attacking, never personal. But they can pick apart my stuff like nobody's business.

One love scene I'd written sounded like the hero had 3 arms. He was on top of the heroine, one hand at her breasts, the other a bit further south. Good so far, right? Well, unless he had another arm to prop himself up with, he'd be flat on the heroine and crushing her. One of the hands had to go.

At other times, my group catches grammar or punctuation errors. I'll admit it, I'm a comma-freak. And for whatever reason, at the moment I'm having a problem with the difference between peak and peek. (I mean, I know the difference, I apparently just can't type the difference.) I tend to favor the spelling p-e-a-k. I guess it's because my fingers can't keep up with my brain, even though I type almost 80 wpm.

To offer effective critiques, a critique group must offer pertinent feedback, doing more than just correcting spelling and grammatical errors. They must truthfully say whether the hero and heroine's motivation make sense, does the sex move the story forward, is the conflict heavy enough to make the story interesting, etc.

My group does this, hands down. And I'll do everything I can to nurture this relationship. They make me a better writer; I can only hope I do the same for them.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Goal, Motivation & Conflict

I recently received a critique from a well-respected editor. I was thrilled that she would take the time to do this. When I started to read over her critique, it was very hard not to feel, well, crushed.

My heroine was TSTL (Too Stupid To Live), my secondary character's accent was over-the-top, I told versus showed, toward the end of the story I paced it too quickly, the villain's motivation was questionable, yada yada yada.

What kept me from sitting on the floor and bawling like a baby was this: (and I quote) "There was an awful lot that I enjoyed about this book. I would love to see a reworked version of this book as a submission."

Well. Can I tell you--that made my month! She liked me. She really, really liked me! (very big grin, here)

This manuscript is the longest thing I've attempted--at just over 45,000 words. It's imperative to have a strong plot and believable goals and motivations. So, today I sat down and talked to my characters. I tried to interview them, find out what their goals were, what motivated them to reach those goals, and what kind of conflict their own emotions and others' would throw in their way. I pulled out Debra Dixon's GMC book, I looked at notes I'd taken from other writers. I tried to rework the plot in a way that the heroine doesn't come off as deserving to be killed off by page three. It was the hardest thing I've done in a long time.

I usually am a "pantster" -- I write by the seat of my pants. I have an idea of my characters' likes/dislikes, their quirks, what they look like, how tall they are, how much they weigh, etc. I have an idea of a beginning and an ending. That's all you need, right? Start at the beginning and write until you reach the end.

Hah. It might work on a shorter story (something 8,000 words or less), but when you do that on a longer work, as I did on this particular manuscript, you end up with a lot of garbage. My redemption on this manuscript -- it was very clean, the sex scenes were hot, and the characters were likeable. They'll be even more likeable once I smarten 'em up.

Being a writer means being a life-long student. Always learn. Always apply what you learn. Then learn some more.