Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Status Update: Cat, Characters, Conflict

Status Update for Dowager Feline Clancy: She is on the mend. The Grand Old Lady is healing nicely with the antibiotics, her blood work came back with nothing too scary other than raised white count (infection is our going diagnosis), and she's chowed down 6 small cans of Fancy Feast wet food. She started purring again yesterday and was laying in bed with me this morning for love and affection. Whew! Dodged a bullet!

Status Update for Cast of Current Characters: Muddling through this WIP in Revision with doubt and frustration as my constant companions. I've unearthed surprising emotional elements and have attempted to shore up the plot with new scenes, but I am not sure if my attempts are stellar. I know I have to go in and layer tons of senses and eliminate some repetitive phrases and word tics, but I am not ready to CUT again. I am so tired of cutting and pasting and rewriting. I love my characters. If I didn't love them so much, I would have thrown in the towel and started a new book. But I am fighting for them.

Status Update for Conflict: Wow, I know I've got internal conflict going strong. I know I have a crazy external plot and that's what is driving me insane. This started off as a category BLAZE type of a book. Now I have this insane ST with suspense and sex and laughter. Yes, deeper emotional elements are surfacing. Why now? Argh. I know I will have to weave them in later. I've literally had "Place Marker Scenes" that I've expanded into decent first draft scenes, but will this MS be ready for other eyes by the middle of March? I don't know. So much feels like it needs to be layered in and I am completely adrift regarding my Villain (who finally revealed himself to me by the last third of the book). I want to send it out and get feedback, but one of my CPs says I should wait till it's super strong. Another reader is willing to peek now and see what is working. I still don't know if the other two CPs can withstand some the rawer parts of the current WIP. Need to ask them first.

Conclusion: keep muddling along, keep layering in stuff, keep working on the new scenes. Give myself time to finish it to MY satisfaction.

Hopefully I won't have total drek by mid-March.

Stay tune!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Writing When Life Stinks

Well, today was one of those stinky days. This happens. This is life. Life happens. And sometimes when life happens, well it just plain stinks.

This morning my darling cat Clancy woke up with blood coming from her eye--she's eighteen -- so no drastic measures, but gosh darn it I don't want my girl to suffer. Many many many -- did I say MANY tears on the way to the Vet. Dear Lord, my cat who is usually the sweetest and most lovable love bug got labeled "feisty" by the Vet cause she did not enjoy all the poking and probing and generally undignified way in which she was handled.

Now I know she is "just a cat." But she is my buddy. She is my constant shadow and companion and I've had her since she was 6 weeks old. Sure, I'm not going to do drastic life-saving stuff at this point, but I don't want her to be in pain or suffer either.

You see, I thought she'd just kind pull a "Clancy" and just one day fall asleep and go to Cat Heaven. And that would have been sad, but not as hard as seeing her hurting so bad.

The good news is that my writing companion of ever so many years is on medication to fight what we hope is an infection. She also has pain meds. And she has inhaled a lot of special wet cat food. A treat. But the vet said she can eat whatever she likes. Good. Cause I plan to spoil her.

The bad news is she's likely got a tumor and that just breaks my heart. But we all agreed, the goal is to keep her pain free and to not suffer. So--that's the deal.

Not much writing happened today. A tad. But not much.

The thing is my Darling Husband articulated what was in my heart today -- this so reminded him of his dad who is dying from cancer. How the doctors said, go home and you can eat whatever you like... is that what the end is like? Go home, eat a pie and die? This sucks! And Clancy with her swollen red eye reminded us of his dad with his eye all buggered up by some reaction to a medication. Weird. I know. I am comparing dear Clancy to my dear FIL, but even Darling Hubby was all akimbo over this. We are just so super sad.

But there are these slivers of hope. Hope that the eye is just infected. Hope that DH's dad is going to be around a lot longer than we anticipated. Hope that we will be okay through it all. We will.

But it's hard to write a sentence when these axes are hanging over our heads. Really really really hard.

My only hope is to channel the pain, the sorrow and the fear into my writing. If I can pour my heart out onto the pages, maybe, in some way, I will have done something good in spite of all the bad.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Every day I try to celebrate the small and the not so small victories as a writer. Sometimes I get big ones: like finaling in the MAGGIES. Sometimes I get small ones: like I actually wrote more than one sentence today. Sometimes I get to celebrate my friends' victories: like when my dear CP Sharon won the Daphne 2009 in the unpublished category, or another writer friend finaled in the Golden Heart. Wow! Tremendous.

And today I celebrated my new CP's victory: a fabulous R with a request for a partial of her next work. Woohoo! This is good news. This is happy times!! Whenever one succeeds, we all benefit because it means the dream is attainable. It is!

Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep learning. Keep celebrating! Writing is a glorious pursuit. May we all achieve the victories we deserve as we continue pursuing our writing dreams!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I LOVE to Write

You know we can talk about the toil and trouble of writing. And yes, slaving away for hours and weeks and months and years on words to build books and stories is tough. Unrewarding if not paid. Still scary if published. And a masochistic trip with personal whips provided for personal self-flagellation. But we continue to slog away--regardless of where we are on the journey.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I continue to plop my ever-growing behind down on the chair and put my hands on the keyboard:

10: I have a very good excuse to drink copious amounts of coffee and tea.
9: Talking to the people in my head is okay if I write down what they say.
8: When my DH tunes me out, I tell myself it's cause Hugh Jackman comparisons are blase to him.
7: Movies, books and travel are "deductible" expenses cause they are RESEARCH.
6: People think I might have something intelligent to say at parties.
5: I get to go to amazing conferences and conventions and workshops.
4: I meet the best people at the conferences, conventions and workshops.
3: I am never bored-ever.
2: I get to write for hours in my pajamas knowing I could get paid to do this!
1: Fill in the blank--I have so many more reasons! I love to write... the rest is gravy!

What are your reasons for getting BICHOK? *butt in chair, hands on keys*

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going for the Gold

I've been AWOL as a blogger for a few days. I admit it's not because I"m uber writing (tho' I have finished a lot of work this week). And I wasn't just driving DH to his Physical Therapy or on little tours of the area (tho' that did occur). Nope. Truth is I usually write my blog at night, but the Olympics has overtaken my blogging.

I love watching the Olympic Games. I especially love watching the Winter Olympics because I grew up in Northern Canada. Now I'm not talking Toronto or Vancouver, I'm talking NORTH of the 55th parallel. I'm talking just shy of the where the tree line ends. I'm talking MUSKEG, MOOSE and ICE FISHING north (yes I have been ice fishing and I know how to filet a pike).

But that's not why I watch the Winter Olympics. Not totally. I love the stories that are unfolding. Some tragic. Some triumphant. Some inspirational. Some bitter. Some must plain fiun!

There are people who have trained for years who are going for the GOLD. Some are reaching their pinnacle. Some are getting silvers or bronzes. Many are not medal contenders, but they are there and they are part of the experience.

ATTITUDE WHEN YOU WIN OR LOSE OR PLACE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. I've seen this with the winners, close seconds, losers and winners who have to explain to the world why the person placing second isn't an a**. And I've seen that person do it with the same dignity as the person who placed fourth in the world and be glad to be part of the experience.

Imagine going for the GOLD. Taste it. Want it? Think GOLDEN HEART. It's the GOLD for unpublished romance writers. Wow. What a great heady feeling to go for it. God knows I'm in it for the GOLD. But I might not achieve my standard. My goal might turn to ash on March 25th. Aack.

Then what? Well, I keep going back to my 2009 experience. I did not final in the GOLDEN HEART. I didn't make it into the top 1/3. It stunk to not final. Really it did. But oh well, I didn't. I could have curled up into a ball and died and given up, but I didn't. (did I mention that I also got my first ever root canal the day I didn't final? Felt about the same--bloody painful).

Nope. I sucked it up. I focused on improving my writing and moving forward. I entered into the MAGGIES. I went to Nationals and pitched the same story and it was requested. Woohoo. Right? Well. Sort of. The story finaled in the MAGGIES. But the agent and editor rejected the full and partial requested at Nationals.

Being rejected sucks.

But then I have more than one story. I have more than one place to pitch right? Unlike some Athletes who have trained for years, who still might not make it despite all their training, I get way more chances than they do to final in my event. I get dozens and dozens of chances.

Think about this. We have the opportunity to try and fail and try and fail without having the world watch us. Think about the courage these athletes have in the Olympics. And when you watch them, be grateful. We get to try and fail without the weight of the world or our country watching us.

So the next time you get a rejection or a no or you're struggling with your story, remember that person who fell just before reaching the finish line on the downhill or at the end of the skating program. And tuck your courage into your brain and move forward. I guarantee you that's what most of these athletes are doing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If You Don't Win, Then What?

I've been watching the Olympics this week. Love the competition and the Hoopla. As a former Canuck, I am a Figure Skating Junkie. I grew up watching the sport, participated in it till I got into the first levels of figures and still can back cross cut and do a mean mini jump on occasion.

I know the skating competition has always been overrun with politics in scoring, but all that aside, the sport is lovely to watch and amazing for me to witness. The winners are flawless. The Losers? Not so much. The gray areas are just that: gray. I won't get into the politics of scoring. I just know I want each and everyone of the athletes to do well.

Kind of like how I feel about my fellow writers.

But what happens if you don't win? You don't succeed despite your best efforts? Do you give up? Blame the judges? Blame yourself? Blame your partners? Or do you look at it and say I want the next generation to benefit from my loss? My failure?

That's what the coach for the Chinese Pairs' Teams did.

Watch his Olympic Dream Shattering:

OK--that stunk. He didn't do what was necessary. He tried, but he lost. He and his partner didn't do well at all.

He had a choice: cry, change or make it work for the next generation.

He chose option 3.

We may not all make it to the top, but we have an opportunity to bring our enthusiasm and our knowledge to the people in our lives to help them.

Sometimes success is in the helping. So hang in, give to others, give to many, give all. Don't focus on what you haven't accomplished. Pay it forward and see the final results in the victories of those around you. Perhaps you might win by being there!

For you viewing pleasure I will share the Victory:


What kind of writer are you? One who only seeks victory for oneself? Or one that keeps feeding the furnace with wood, kindling, fuel for the future?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

K.I.S.S. & Tell

Revision is an interesting process. I've discovered that when it comes to the PLOT revision, reading a craft book alongside the writing work helps me to generate new ideas and fix my MS's holes. Sometimes I take a course online during this time. Sometimes I just read and learn.

While revising, I am always on the phone or pinging emails to my CPs. They are all working on their WIPs and going through the same process. All of our voices bring new thoughts and solutions to the table. All of us find different ways to get to the heart of the matter.

So where is the KISS?

Well, for me it's in the phrase: KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY. The  more I learn, the more I realize that writing does boil down to basics. There are some amazing methods to approach writing, but they all derive from similar roots. I can call a plot point a twist point, a pivotal plot point, a false victory, a turning point... a whatever... But bottom line: the idea is the same. I have to have sections in my book that bring about changes internally and externally to my main characters and all of these changes must deepen the sympathy my future readers have for my characters.

Goals? Motivations? Conflicts? Internal and external? They all come from some deep well within ourselves. If we don't mine our own hearts and experiences, we aren't bringing an honest revelation to the table, either. At times it takes some wonderful teacher to lead us to that discovery. Other times, it's an aha moment within our own brains that crystalizes the soul baring drive to write the story. Is our theme throughout our writing about betrayal, hope, lost souls finding home, overcoming injustice, saving people, truth and justice overcoming dishonesty? What? When we discover this, we are on a roll.

Sounds simple doesn't it?

But that's the part that's hard to tell. When does the writing shift from complex to simple? When does the book take on an amazing life of its own where the characters are really telling ME how to write their story? I think it happens all along as long as I don't force the issue. As soon as I try to fake it, I lose it.

I lose the essence of my people. I lose the essence of their story.

Revision opens up new pathways, new directions, new goals. Revision brings along interesting developments, unexpected characters and evocative emotions. Now the questions is: are you ready to expose them to the light?

Monday, February 15, 2010

GMC Revisited

Goal: finish the revision; survive this revision
Motivation: want to have another book to pitch at nationals

Confession: that's an external goal, my internal goal is far more complex and detailed :P

Conflict: too many to count-- but a few are time constraints, DH being home ALL THE TIME, snow days, and plot problems.

Confession: time is always a constraint.

How do I overcome each conflict? Each turning point? How do I grow?

Confession: I wonder why I struggle all the time, but I can't stop.

Guess I'm a writing junkie :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mission Confirmed

Yesterday I went to the Heart of Dixie's first meeting of the year. We had a lot of business to cover because we missed our January meeting due to snow conditions (in AL!). Afterward we were treated to a great discussion about the creative brain and how to keep our brains in gear for writing. So many things can impact our creativity: lack of sleep, health conditions, hormones, medications and stress. Even the published author who shared her information to us had her own story of how she had to battle to regain her writing mojo after losing her thyroid to thyroid cancer. Wow. But she did it. If she could battle back to regain her desire to write every day, then I feel even more inspired to keep my fingers on the keyboard.

Sure, there's not a lot of money in it (read zero for now) and the publishing industry is suffering from the economic meltdowns so there aren't a lot of doors opening right now for new writers, BUT the doors are still there.

After the meeting was adjourned and we had put up the tables and chairs, I was happy to talk with other authors, published and unpublished, about their experiences and their plans for the future. I came away from that meeting feeling energized and more than ready to keep pursuing my dream. For you see, if I just keep swimming in the low tide and wait patiently for the next wave to come in, I will be ready. If I quit now because the tide is low and I am  not getting anywhere, well too bad for me when I do miss the next wave.

I have reevaluated my writing goals and I believe I've made some wise decisions for this year. I am taking control of the things I can control and letting the stuff I can't control go out of my mind. I cannot control the ePublishing industry, iPad, Amazon, publishing, the business. None of it. I can control writing, learning my craft, submitting and entering contests. Based on what I learned yesterday, I believe I don't need to be in a hurry to set up a web page or create an Internet presence beyond my blogging.

After all, what am I promoting? Nothing. Yet. But I will do the following: I will continue blogging, sending in articles to the two chapter newsletters and obtain a domain name for when that time arrives.

Another thing I will do is maintain a patient attitude about the end result. I have one wonderful book out there. I'm proud of it. I have another book I want to revise and make stronger for the CR market. I have a fourth MS that I'm writing for the sheer joy of telling the characters' story. And I have another CR, ST that I will write as well. During the summer, I will begin processing my YA idea. I am rewarding myself with that book. I've wanted to write this one for a while, but I am still seeking a credible plot. I have the idea and the method of execution firm in my mind, but the plot must be strong enough to stand alone and be part of a larger series.

Stay tuned. Writing is a game I love to play. I am never setting aside my passion for this craft. It brings me joy and pain; friends and comrades; highs and lows. The process is a wrenching and excruciating ecstasy. I will not surrender my dream just because the world is not aligned with it today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And Now A Word from Our Sponsors...

Just some Classic Hollywood Romances.... Enjoy!

Confession: Nursing my Hip Dude and catching up on writing seriously cut into my blogging today :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Passion Party

Theme. A man against nature thing? A man against man thing? A theme... is it it the music underlying your story? Is it your voice speaking loud and clear about life? Stop. Think. Be.

Here are some Maass Illuminations from WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL:

A breakout novelist needs courage, too; the courage to say something passionately... it is a truth that the world needs to hear, an insight without which we find ourselves ourselves diminished... 

... strong novelists have strong opinions. More to the point, they are not at all afraid to express them. Scratch the surface of a best-selling author and very likely you will not find a marshmallow underneath. You will find a fiery, impassioned advocate. 

... stories lacking fire cannot fire readers. Cleave to your convictions. Cherish them. Let them stoke your story with an energy that will drive it like the giant pistons of a steam locomotive. Let yourself care because  that is to live with passion--and it is passionate stories that your readers crave.

Do you have passion? Do you have conviction? Do you care about SOMETHING? Share it... don't preach. Just share it in the voices of your characters...

Move them forward. Move yourself forward. Think. Be. Live. Fight. Be. Go for it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Muffin Top Middle

I am currently revising my dreaded middle section of the WIP. Let me repeat: dreaded middle section.

Now for the non-writers out there or for the writers who only make it to the middle of a novel, lose heart and quit, here is a truism: writing through the middle section of a WIP/FIRST DRAFT; WIP/IN REVISION FOR THE BILLIONTH TIME is painful and soul-sucking work. This is not for the faint of heart. Nope. One must forge ahead, knowing the maps and outlines created to prevent this mind-numbing process have FAILED. Or at least we believe they have and we would love to kill the characters and move on.

Confession: According to my loving CP in VA, I whine a lot as I enter into this phase.

As I grit my teeth and buckle down to wrestle the horrible plot into shape, I begin to have hope and become somewhat euphoric because I can see the solutions unfolding and bringing me to new lands. I don't kill my peeps, they find a great way to fix life's many problems, the villain or bad dude is conquered and all the loose threads are neatly tucked into a bow.

It's a glimmer of hope. One that will ebb when I have to tighten the writing, but it can be done.

Confession: I don't know of a single writer, published or unpublished, who doesn't go through the "I suck" period while stuck in the middle of their MS.

I'm muddling along with my current WIP in Revision while nursing DH through his hip replacement recovery and all that entails. While not trying to squeeze in writing time, I am reading Maass's book, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. A few days ago, while waiting for DH to get through his surgery, I read the following:

Breakout novels sprawl... it can be a scary prospect, this business of writing large. In midmanuscript a breakout novelist can feel lost, overwhelmed by possible scenes and the challenge of tying up every thread... it is common for outlines to breakdown... many breakout novelists realize they have not looked at their outline in months... instead they are pushing forward on instinct, using some inner sense of direction to keep them driving toward the hight moments and, eventually, the final line.

This is where I am-the midsection. And it is growing into a muffin top midsection. Yet I persist because I sort of envision the final destination for my peeps. The story is taking a life on of its own. I love this part of the writing process. It's not going fast, but it is going well. I know it will need a lot of shining and polishing when it's done, but oh the plotting and playing with it is fabulous.

My midsection is a muffin top.

What is a muffin top? Well, it's that top of the muffin that spills over the ends of the cupcake holder and makes a lovely half moon shape. It's got all the ingredients inside it and when one bites into it, sheer delight.

Confession: Not only is my midsection of the MS a muffin top, my belly is currently a muffin top spilling over my jeans due to a long cold winter, too many hours in BICHOK and not enough hours trimming the middle down through diet and exercise.

That is what I am getting ready to do--put my MS on a diet and exercise program. I will whip this puppy into shape using whatever means I can to get the story told.

Meanwhile, pass the muffins.

There I said it. No amount

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surgery Statistics--Novel and Real

*DH is recuperating nicely. Who knew a new hip could be put into a man in less than two hours.
*Who knew they'd release said man so early from the hospital?

Confession: I am not a nurse for a reason, but I try.

*I have applied my own scalpel to my MS
*cutting is such sweet sorrow

Confession: I'm not an editor for a reason, but I persist.

*I have neat statistics thanks to my CP. I know exactly how many words I have cut.
*I know how many words I've written since January 1, 2010.

Confession: I have cut half as many words as I have written :(

*Woot, I am edging close to 60,000 words!
*Boohoo, I know I will be cutting more!

Confession: surgery recovery sucks (real -- ask DH --and imagined)

So all is well in my little world. I am working despite my DH's surgery and recovery. I am an adequate nurse and an adequate writer. I hope to improve in all areas.

Best of all, I see where I am going in both jobs. The end is in sight. Just as my DH's mobility improves every day that he gets up and clomps around the house with his walker, so does my writing. Every day that I pull out my writing cane and work, my writing does improve.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Top of the Heap: Redo with SINGLE Word Answers

My friend Gwen, *check out her link* tagged me to try my hand AGAIN  at this game. Perfect for us writers who need to be concise. Here goes…
Rules: Answer the following questions with single word (I know I know... I used more than one... so sad for me) answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers. Make sure you let them know about it though.
Your Cell Phone? iPhone
Your Hair? dyed
Your Mother? insane
Your Father? painter
Your Favorite Food? filet
Your Dream Last Night?operation
Your Favorite Drink? wine
Your Dream/Goal? published
What Room Are You In? family
Your Hobby? cook
Your Fear? fire
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? South
Where Were You Last Night? home
Something That You Aren’t? patient
Muffins? cupcakes
Wish List Item? skinny
Where Did You Grow Up? everywhere
Last Thing You Did? visit
What Are You Wearing? jeans
Your TV? off
Your Pets? cats
Friends? lots
Your Life? internal
Your Mood? curious
Missing Someone? husband
Vehicle? Escape
Something You Aren’t Wearing? socks
Your Favorite Store? Wegman’s
Your Favorite Color? blue
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? today
Last Time You Cried? movies
Your Best Friend? double
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? France
Facebook? yes
Favorite Place To Eat? table


I'm waiting for my darling husband to recuperate from his full hip replacement surgery. Meanwhile, I've had time to write (woot--big surprise) and read blogs about writing. Now in today's crazy publishing world there might be a bit of AACK, why BOTHER moments as unpublished writers (heck, for that matter, for published authors, too).

Confession: I am not published (yet). I am not business savvy (ever... helloo? I need an agent). I don't have patience or time to try to understand the recent publisher/amazon/author/reader issues.

This post is for ALL writers because whether we are published or not, we see that brass ring, the possibility becoming more and more difficult to attain and maintain. We can continue to work on our writing, learn our craft, hone our stories, perfect our pitches, fix our problems BUT the industry keeps on changing on a dime. A thin dime. One that is spinning super fast.

So, without further ado, I believe we ALL need some inspiration; published or not. The following blogs might be of help:

the Blood Red Pencil

The truth is, we write because we are pulled to write. We seek an audience because we truly want to reach an audience with our message, and we are blessed by the numbers. The more we write, learn, submit, grow the greater our chances of our writing reaching an audience.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Top of the Heap: Fun Game

I was tagged by  for this one-word game, a nice little exercise for us writers. Especially for those of us who like to use three words where one will do! At the end, I'm tagging some of the fun, new blogs I'm following. Also, don't you love this award? So far it's my favorite.

I would definitely put this on my sidebar if I could only figure out how to do it!

Rules: Answer the following questions with Single Word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers. Make sure you let them know about it though.

Your Cell Phone? iPhone
Your Hair? Needs s trim
Your Mother? a constant well of pain to mine
Your Father? wish he was still here
Your Favorite Food? Lebanese
Your Dream Last Night? Craziness filled with peeps in my head
Your Favorite Drink? Wine
Your Dream/Goal? Dream? Published. Goal? Keep Writing
What Room Are You In? Master Bedroom
Your Hobby? Travel
Your Fear? Fire
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Florida or Texas
Where Were You Last Night? Here
Something That You Aren't? Patient and calm
Muffins? Lori's Chocolate Chip Banana
Wish List Item? Health and fitness
Where Did You Grow Up? Northern Canada
Last Thing You Did? Braise Pork Tenderloin
What Are You Wearing? Jeans
Your TV? Off
Your Pets? 2 cats
Friends? Everywhere
Your Life? Writing, Family, Friends
Your Mood? Intense
Missing Someone? Best friends in Canada & Holland
Vehicle? Ford Escape
Something You Aren't Wearing? Earrings
Your Favorite Store? Trader Joes (when I can get there)
Your Favorite Color? Green/blue
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Today
Last Time You Cried? Summer 2009
Your Best Friend? Lori, Janne Marike
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Blogs
Facebook? Yes
Favorite Place To Eat? Home

Here's the fun new bloggers I'm tagging. Go visit them and tell them you came down from the mountain! And if you add yourself as a follower to their blogs, so much the better cuz we all love followers!!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The End: Does Fiction Mirror Life?

Well, I am reaching THE END of the Maass book. I'm edging toward THE END of my own WIP.

*confession: not really, but I like to fantasize that it's finished, fully revised and ready for submission.

Any rate, how do we reach the end of our manuscripts? Fast? Panting to reach the finish line? Wanting to reach it so fast, we can't slow down to fill in the important details? Or slogging away, like a very slow turtle, and not getting there for YEARS?

*confession: I want to be a turtle through the middle of the WIP, but when I get close to the end, I race like the rabbit.

Okay, so what does Maass say about THE END? Well, first of all, it's not the end, it's the resolution. That place where all the final pieces finally come together. Here's the deal: don't cheat yourself as a writer or the person reading your book. After all, the end of this book needs to make the READER FEEL GOOD AND WANT TO READ MORE (kind of like scenes and chapters and hooks argh).

To quote the wonderful literary agent who will probably never know I exist, but whom I'd like to meet (please CPs correct my grammar now)... (ellipse mistake I'm sure)... but first, we must build suspense until the final moment... don't be predictable...

... allow yourself --or, rather, your protagonist--the possibility of failure. Hey, that is is life is it not? There is no guarantee you or I will win. Why should fiction be safer than reality?

Ah, Mr. Maass, why indeed? Why should my writing make life easier for my characters when my own life is so unpredictable?

Me? I prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and I always have an exit strategy........... (major ellipse rule breakage)......

Monday, February 1, 2010

Voice: Not a Song, but Your Heart on the Page

I've been haphazardly plowing through my MAASS book, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL as I work on my huge revision. I tend to revise in pieces: write a little, read a little about craft, ruminate a lot, read through my pages in advance, generate ideas (occasionally brilliant, often not) and write some more.

Some of my writing/blogging friends like Martha and Gwen have a more scheduled way of blogging about their writing and craft work and prompts (read the daily squirrel or prompt). I do not. I blog the way I write and I write the way I think. Basically, I am a bipolar writer/or left to right brain to left again writer. I cross the lateral a lot.

I can be logical and organized, making my neat little Scrivener scene cards, or I can be a musical mess of a jumble of hand written index cards flying around the house. I've got charts, graphs, hard copies, soft copies and a bundle of in-between stuff as I work.

Reading through the Maass book this week, I generated a lot of cool ideas or thoughts about my current WIP in Revision and I also revisited the core of my writing: voice.

What is voice? Is it style? Is it a unique way of writing that sets you apart? Is it tone? What is the elusive quality of "voice" that people are talking about when they talk about a writer's voice? I think Maass covers it very well in his book:

... voice is a natural attribute. You can no more control it than you can control the color of your eyes--nor would you want to. Plenty of breakout authors have a distinctive voice.

To set your voice free, set your words free. Set your characters free. Most important, set your heart free. It is from the unknowing shadows of your subconscious that your stories will find their drive and from which they will draw their meaning. No one can loan you or teach you that. Your voice is your self in the story.


Eloisa James said the same thing in a very eloquent way during her Keynote Luncheon speech during the 2009 RWA National Conference. Pour your soul onto the pages. Pour your heart into your writing. Mine your feelings.

You have a story to tell. It's YOUR story. Whether you write romance, gothic literature, vampire YA novels or mysteries, YOU HAVE A STORY.

How we approach writing the story might very well reveal our writing voices. Just as no two writers approach their writing the same way, no two writers have the same writing voice. They can't. They're different people.

Yes. Read other amazing authors' books. But be sure to remember that as much as you may admire their work, only YOU can write a book with YOUR voice in it.