Early days

I’m into day two of trying something new after reading this fantastic post http://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/ by professional author, Rachel Aaron.

So yesterday I plotted out exactly what was going to happen in my scene. Usually I just show up at my computer and see what happens which leads to long moments of frustration and brain wrecking, fruitless thought. It was great to have a bit of structure to follow and I found it a whole lot easier to move from one bridge to the next. Unfortunately my word count didn’t increase, but I’m blaming not much sleep for that.

My characters are in the early stages of attraction and I have to work hard to build the tension between them without it feeling unreal. This isn’t helped by my heroine. She’s a closed mouthed girl and doesn’t seem to want to tell me much. She keeps giving me that look that says ‘you figure it out.’ Tart!

Thankfully my hero is a more talkative type.

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Moments of insecurity

Self belief. Why is it so hard to come by? 

I arrived home today to be greeted by an email from my writing school mentor. I had submitted the first third of one of the novels I’m working on for critique. I’ve only got six weeks to get it prepped and polished for end of year submission. When I saw the email my heart sank, convinced I was about to read a tongue lashing on all it’s faults.

Of course it wasn’t like that at all. She was very encouraging and praised the many things she felt I’d dealt with well, pointed out the few things she wants me to work on. I was ecstatic, my self belief boosted. Grinning from ear to ear I proudly read the critique to my mum. (Yes, I share my success with her. She supports the hell out of me and my writing after all.)

It got me thinking though. Why is it so much easier to believe that my work is no good than to believe I’ve got what it takes to succeed at this? I mean, I got into a creative writing class that only accepts twenty students a year and my first completed novel received personal feedback after it’s first submission and was picked up on it’s second. Believe me, I know how rare this is. So why do I keep doubting my ability as a writer?

More importantly, how many books will I have to publish before this stops plaguing me? When will I finally know, deep in my gut, that I am an author and that I’m good at what I do?

Man or manchild?

What appeals to you in a hero’s physique? It’s seems pretty common for romance heroes to be built like tanks, with enough muscle to wrestle alligators. Not mine. Mine tend towards the long and lean. Don’t get me wrong, they have muscle and they have strength, but they don’t tend to bulge anywhere, but where it counts.

So I was wondering what other people like in their heroes. Should I re evaluate my heroes? Do you want them big or is there space for the kind of manchild that fill the pages of my books? Or do you, like me, imagine them how you want no matter how they’re described?

So which of these three basic body types does it for you?

ImageLong and lean

ImageAthlete supreme

ImageTo serve and destroy

Let me know. Curiosity is killing this cat.

 

Writing through the pressure cooker

Why is it that in life everything seems to hit at once? Is it some kind of karmic law or is a sadistic deity fucking with us for shits and giggles? Who knows, but it does seem to be the way things roll, especially in my life.

On my list of crapolla I’m dealing with is, first and foremost, living in an earthquake demolition zone. Over a year and a half on and well over 10,000 aftershocks later and the city is still in process of being torn down brick by brick. One day I’m sure, someone will start rebuilding.

Number two on my list; Trying to write in the nearly constant presence of my five year old son. While he is fantastic company, finding the time to actually concentrate is pretty much impossible. Hence my tiny daily word count.

Three; My school year is almost done and in six weeks time I need to hand in a 40,000 world portfolio of my best, most polished work and a 10,000 word reading journal. Ouch. The worst thing about this is I now have to drop my current fav project (book two in the Dominion series) to work on a more socially acceptable YA fantasy. I don’t think my tutors would love all the heavy breathing in my other work.

And to top it all off, in a city where rentals have become scarce and expensive (blame the quake and subsequent demolition of half the city for that,) I have to move.

Thank god for Evernight! The release date of Lunacy and the Vampire is the one bright spot on my event horizon. Roll on the 7th of sept I say. 

Concerning Covers

At the risk of causing serious offence I have to say I’m not a fan of romance book covers. Something about the cheese factor just makes me shudder. I wonder if the industry is well served by the standard cover. Would more people be interested in reading our books if they didn’t flush with embarrassment at being caught with one in their hands. Obviously not such an issue in today’s e-reader world, but still.

My biggest objection is what the covers say about our work? That the sex is what it’s all about. Not the story, the world, the characters. As an author I put far more energy and thought into who my characters are, the worlds they live in and the structure of the plot than I do in the erotic scenes. I want my covers to reflect this.

Maybe this isn’t such an issue for the higher heat levels of erotic writing, but even then I’m not sure. Even the most extreme and raunchy work has to have strong character development and world building, good dialogue and a solid plot.

As a reader I will drop a book if the plot isn’t exciting, the character’s are flat or unrealistic. It doesn’t matter how hot the sex is, if the rest of it falls short I lose interest real fast.

I’m aware that the industry standard cover identifies the genre and also that many people love them, but personally I’m not so keen. In fact I have to work to not be put off. Also we have to battle so hard against the stereotyping of our genre as it is. Romance and erotic work is degenerated as a worthless form of literature, suitable only for bored and unintelligent housewives. Look at the way Shades of Gray has been dubbed mommy porn, rather than a study on alternative lifestyles. Interesting too, that romance is the highest selling genre on the planet. Our work is valuable and I’d love my covers to say that. To let the world know that my work is as valid as a crime author, a contemporary author, or God damn it, a literary author.

Image

So, these are two covers from the same book by the inspiring Nalini Singh. Sorry about the poor photo quality, I had trouble finding good versions of cover one. Anyway I know which book I’d be more likely to pick up. The second cover, although more subtle, still lets me know clearly what genre her writing is and what to expect.

Okay, there’s my rant done with. I’m interested to hear what you think. Please leave comments and let me know.

AND… really big sorry if I offended you, but this is my forum to express myself.

Good Morning World

I woke up this morning to a bit of exciting. In my FB inbox was an invitation to put my book on The Vampire Book Realm. The social networking gears are grinding into life already. Of course I’ll say yes!

Check it out; www.vampirebookrealm.com What a great site.

On another note, I’ve been thinking a lot about daily word counts lately. It all started when a fellow student at the writer’s institute gave a presentation on the writer’s life. She stressed the importance of regular, structured writing time in a distraction free sanctuary. ImageThis is me working on novel number two. You can see exactly how much I crave that sanctuary.

So what do you do if that dream isn’t a reality? What do I do? How do I get my word count up and beat the ever present critic in my head if I am constantly distracted? Apparently I set a very low daily minimum count, so said Helen Lowe, YA fantasy author and last weeks guest speaker at school. Her’s, she said, is 200 words. My mouth dropped open, 200? So totally achievable, no matter what.

I’ve been trying it and you know what, it works. It really works. So far I’ve managed at least double that daily and a few times I’ve gone well into the thousands. The best thing about it though is that on the days I only manage 3 or 4 hundy I’m no longer beating myself up. I’ve gone over my minimum goal! Instead of feeling like a failure, I’ve succeeded. Riding the warm wind of that success, open the keyboard the next day and out the words flood. The cycle of writer’s block and self flagellation is broken.