Feb 25, 2009

Influential Reading

I’m about halfway through Alice Sebold’s memoir, Lucky. This is where she has returned back to university in Syracuse and has bonded with her poetry professor. As happens whenever I read books that feature poets, it makes me want to write poetry.

The same thing happens whenever I read The Woodwife, by Terri Windling. The Woodwife is a contemporary fantasy about a poet who’s trying to solve the mystery of the death of another poet. It never fails to make me yearn to simplify my life and live out in a cabin in the wilderness and write poetry.

That being said, while I find I get the urge to write poetry when reading about poets, this does not hold true for the rest of my writing. When I’m writing fiction, I do not read the type of books I’m trying to write. For example, if I’m writing about shapeshifters, then I read everything but shapeshifter books.

This could be why I’ve never had the urge to write about vampires. I read so many vampire books that I never have the chance to start thinking creatively about them. Besides, there’s already so many good vampire books out there that I think you’d have to come up with something pretty spectacular to break into the field.

Feb 20, 2009

Good Vs. Bad

The daughter and I have been watching Gilmore Girls in our spare time, season by season. Somewhere around Season 3, teen-aged Rory Gilmore breaks up with her boyfriend Dean and starts dating Jess instead. As this was happening, I commented to my daughter:

“Dean’s problem is he’s just too nice, that’s why he lost the girl.”

She agreed. Which begs the question, why are good girls attracted by bad boys?

So I posted a question on AW and created a poll to find out which was more popular, the good boys or the bad.

The general consensus was, that while the bad boys are all right for a fling, you want a good boy for anything long term. It was also agreed that the best bad boys are those with the heart of gold - the bad boy who does good things in spite of himself because his love interest brings out the best in him.

This is actually very reassuring for me. While I enjoy reading about the bad boys I seem to be unable to create them in my own writing. My heros are clearly on the side of good. I started the poll thinking the bad boys would win hands down and hoping to gain some insight on creating a bad boy character. Now it seems that I don’t need to.

I guess when all is said and done it doesn’t matter whether your character is a good boy or a bad boy at heart, I think the real secret is a strong character.

Feb 17, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again

I haven’t been getting much writing done, but I’ve been thinking about writing a lot. That should count for something, shouldn’t it?

Sometimes, when I get into these funks where it’s a struggle to even update my blogs, I find that if I stop trying so hard the writing comes easier. So, I took the weekend off. I crocheted a bunch of squares for the afghan I’m making for the daughter and her fiancĂ©, watched a few episodes of Gilmore Girls with the daughter, and read a couple of interesting books.

I think what made these books all the more interesting is that they were very well written and they were well outside my normal reading sphere. I finished the last one yesterday and I haven’t picked up another book yet. Which means, my friends, that I’m getting ready to write.

Today an idea invaded my brain and I spent the day going over it in my mind. It hasn’t taken possession of me like the one that hit before NaNo, but it’s still pretty strong. AND it’s another damn space idea - what is up with these space ideas?

So far it’s still undergoing changes as I mull it over (and over and over), which means it’s not ready yet. Once I get to the stage where I go over it and it doesn’t change, then it’s ready to write down. And hopefully it will pour out of me the way the last one did.

I think I mentioned a while back (maybe quite a while back) that while cleaning out the closet in the spare bedroom I came across my first book. Yes, it was a space novel, but it wasn’t a romance. Well, yeah, the heros competed for the girl (whom I believe ends up with the turn-coat son of the bad guy), but romance played a very minor part.

The romance I saved for “out-takes”. These were scenes where the two heros went off on an adventure alone and ended up falling in love with a girl. There were several of these stories and it might be worth it to brush them off and polish them up some day. After all, I’ve already created the universe they live in, might as well make use of it.

The reason I’ve brought this up is because my newest space idea could take place in that universe as well. At one point the MMC and FMC seek sanctuary and the flagship would make the perfect place. It has the medical facility I need, plus a big landing bay, and the diplomats that are required to settle the dispute between the Evil Prince and the MMC.

I just hope it doesn’t turn out as convoluted as the NaNo novel did.

Feb 11, 2009


Okay, I admit it. This is another post generated by a question posed on the AW message board. This one was in regards to writing books with a cliff hanger ending so the reader will know there’s a sequel.

All I can say is, DON’T DO IT!

As a reader, nothing infuriates me more than getting to the end of a book I’ve been enjoying only to find out the story is continued in a book as yet to be published. The author might as well write “to be continued” on the last page, which at least is more honest than sucking someone into paying for a story that isn’t finished.

I just read a book that pulled this on me and what was really disappointing was that it’s by one of my favorite authors. She writes contemporary romance, vampire romance, and shapeshifter romance. Her contemporary romance are stand alone while her vampire romance could be considered a series although the books also stand alone. Her shapeshifter romance though, drag one story out over several volumes, which is why I don't read them. The book I just finished, however, was a vampire romance and I was appalled when I got to the end of it to find out the story wasn’t finished. I feel betrayed by this author.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading books that are part of a series. Sometimes the series follows a character into different situations, sometimes it focuses on minor characters within the story. However, each book in the series has a satisfactory resolution, it’s complete.

A story that is stretched out over more than one book is, to my thinking, a cheat. The author is saying that if you want to know the rest of the story you have to shell out for their next book.

How hard is it to wrap things up in volume one and come up with a new situation for volume two?

Driving Into Forever started out as a stand alone book, but two of the characters (who never even meet in DIF) started clamoring for a story of their and so I started a sequel. This, too, I consider a stand alone, even though it will be part of a series. I have two other volumes in mind, but although the books will be connected by setting and circumstance, you do not have to read them in the order in which they are going to be written for them to make sense.

Magic has the potential to be a series with the connection being a piece of jewelry, and Changeling will be a series with the connection being setting and situation. See how easy it is? There’s so much potential for sequels that there’s no need to drag a story out over several volumes just to generate more sales.

Shame on you for trying!

Feb 9, 2009


Someone posted a request on Absolute Write for tips on creating good titles. Some people responded that they suck at titles; others have no problems with them. And still others say they never try to come up with a title until a piece is finished.

All the fiction I write starts out with a title. Usually they’re just working titles, something I use to identify it in my files. With any luck I come up with a better title before I’m finished the story.

Of my current works in progress, Driving Into Forever is the only one keeping the title it started out with. Well, at least until I sell it and the editor/publisher changes it to something else :-) I was probably 10K into Magic before I thought of a better name for it, I just haven’t changed the name under the Zokutou bar. Changeling is a working title and I’m still trying to come up with something better.

Like every other aspect of writing, creating the perfect title is different for everyone. You can use a key phrase one of your characters uses, or a descriptive element from the story itself. It can be short and sharp; long and descriptive; intriguing and mysterious. Above all, it needs to sell your book, not just to the reader, but to the publisher who buys it.

The right title can make or break a novel. Seriously, would Gone With the Wind really have been the best seller it was published under its original title of Tomorrow Is Another Day?

Feb 6, 2009

It’s About Time

When I started something new for Nanowrimo it was because the idea took hold of me two weeks prior to the start and wouldn’t let go. During that two weeks I got no writing at all done; all I could think about was the idea - going over it in my mind, refining it . . . I think that’s why I was successful in the Nano challenge.

Therefore, due to the lack of a fresh idea taking hold of me like that, I’ve decide for the time being I’m going to concentrate on my current WIPs. It would be nice to have at least one of them finished before I start something else.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Samhain Publishing has another free story blitz going on, 14 new stories leading up to Valentine’s Day. You can download them yourself HERE .

Also, anyone who’s stuck in the dreaded revision hell might be interested in this article. Holly Lisle is not only a prolific author, she’s very generous when it comes to sharing writing advice/information. THIS
article shares her one-pass revision plan. Check it out, I know I will be!

Feb 4, 2009

More Stubborn Than Creative

This would be so much easier if I could just decide what I want to work on.

So far this week I’ve been adding a word here and a word there to my current WIPs, but nothing really significant.

I thought about starting something new, but I can’t settle on which new idea. Book one of a new trilogy? A stand alone book? Maybe a short story or two? Decisions, decisions.

I’ve been hanging around Absolute Write a lot the last few days, more reading than posting of course. Someone offered a poetry challenge that I couldn’t pass up. The challenge was to write a poem that started with the line: The boy stood on the burning deck. The poem could only be four lines. Here’s my contribution:

The boy stood on the burning deck
and gave his girl a little peck
she told him to go to heck
instead he wrote this piece of dreck.

Meh, it’s not great poetry, but at least it’s creative.