Thursday, November 29, 2012
Not to mention that I've downloaded a bunch of new books to my Kindle. Some of them I'm saving for my cruise in March, but I do want to get to the Christmas ones this season.
So what am I reading? The Twilight series. For like the dozenth time. And I'm not exaggerating. I picked them up after seeing the final movie (twice) when it premiered a couple of weeks ago. I'm almost done with Breaking Dawn. We're not talking short stories here. These are big books, 500, 700, 800 pages plus.
I'm not sure what it is about these books that makes me come back to them time and time (and time) again. Yes, I love vampires. And yes, I have a huge crush on Edward. There are lines and sections of each of the books that I literally have memorized. Yet every time I sit down and read them, I love them.
I've reread other books, too. Probably not as many times as these. But there are books I always come back to. Why is it that with a huge pile of books I've never read before and revisions to do on my own mss waiting for me, I pick up something familiar? I think that must be the ultimate compliment to an author. To enjoy something s/he has written so much that you return to it again and again.
I had a compliment like that once. Last year in a review for A Christmas to Remember the reviewer said it was a book she'd read again. "I know I will keep this and read it over and over again every year." - MDobson, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews.
So, how about you? Are you a rereader? Or is once enough for you?
Until next time,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
more and more dissatisfied with it. There's something not working, but I can't decide what that 'something' is. On Sunday evening, feeling particularly dispirited, I put the following on my Facebook page:
Do you ever get to the point where you feel like deleting the whole of your 'work in progress' and forgetting you ever thought of this story in the first place? That's where I am right now!
The replies and comments I received were interesting, and I think they’re worth summarising here. If nothing else, they show that other writers experience the same feelings! There's also some very useful advice. I’ve alternated colours to show the comments from different people, and given them in the order they appeared, but have left out my own replies to the comments.
Yes. Every WIP at some point.
Keep going! Keep going!
Hold on there. You're too close to the baby to call it ugly. Go away for a few days and let the characters sink into your subconscious, let them talk to you a little. Come back with a fresh mind and a renewed body too. Funny how rest and lots of REM can salvage a WIP
Sometimes in revisions, I get so sick of these people I wish I'd never created them. But when their story is published, I always love them again! Absence makes the heart grow fonder so take a short holiday from them and see what a difference it makes.
Have you thought of flipping the characters on their ears, giving them an all-new tension that they didn't have before? Tension drives conflict, conflict drives passion, passion drives...oh, you know the drill.
Not just you. And some stories just have magic, heart, crunch you simply can't walk away from. Sometimes all you need to do is wait for the chops to write it or let go of the idea of perfection. The latter is usually what stands in my way. i.e. what I wanted the story to be is not what the story IS.
I’d put that sucker away for a year.
It sounds like you need a long walk and a break and let this story reconvene in your head.
As the saying goes, you can't revise a blank page. I like your idea of going back to the original version, whatever that is. It's undoubtedly the one that made you start writing in the first place. Step back and let the characters tell you their story.
Don't do it!
Give it a couple of days and suddenly you'll know.
I have a story I've been writing for about 3 years, keeping getting lost in it. Maybe you need to do what I've done (more than once). Put it right away and begin a completely new one. Your mind will be much fresher when you finally return to this wip, you'll probably see what’s happening to hold you back straight away.
Leave it alone for a month. Then you will know what the problem is and be able to fix it!
Just been thru that exact process!
Certainly have. I think I'd follow the advice to leave it alone for a month. I had one, and kept going. It took three times as long to write.
You're trying too hard! Step back, write a short story and see what happens... Step out of your comfort zone! Pen a scary thriller.
Don't destroy it. Put it on the back burner. Let it lie for a year or so, then go back and see if it is worth saving.
Have you thought about getting some feedback on it from someone?
Let your mind drift to other scenes, other characters . Let this one stew a bit longer. Some of mine have been around for years.
Yes, know that feeling only too well.
I'm feeling that way right now too. I'm working on a novella that's taking me longer to write than a full length book.
Hang in there. Breathe....
Oh yes. You stare at the screen blinking fast, then scratch something till it bleeds--anything rather than just walk away, which is the only thing that works.
* gasp * Oh No! Stop! Don't do it! You will find the way in
this story. I have complete faith in you. :)
Don't do it. Set it aside and work on something else. I have one coming out soon that I've been messing with off and on since 2009. I finally figured out the issue about a month ago and fixed it. so, it could just need to simmer for YEARS! LOL!
Good luck. I messed with mine between stuff forever and it finally gelled. Yours will.
Yes! But don't do it. Just let it stew for a while and all will work out.
Keep plugging along.
Don't give up on your story. Maybe take a break, then start reading it from the beginning, and I'll bet you find that your story hasn't given up on you.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Aristotle is credited with analyzing the art of story-telling. He defined a story as having a specific beginning, middle and end. When beginning is tied intimately to the end, the story takes on life--a complete being that "lives" because it is written that way.
Since Aristotle, many adaptations of his three-act story structure have been posited. Shakespeare's plays had six or seven acts because candle wicks needed to be trimmed during performances. Modern filmmakers think in terms of four acts: Act 2 has two parts divided by a midpoint incident.
Novelists, consciously or unconsciously, write in acts punctuated by story events like "plot points," "inciting incident" and "black moment."
At the First Plot Point, about 1/4 into the story, she has to make a major choice. She crosses the Threshold. It is a point of no return. She can't go back to her old life. Act 2 begins.
During the first half of Act 2, she struggles and fails. Everything she does trying to fix her problems only makes things worse. At the Act 2 midpoint, she realizes she will have to take an ultimate risk, do things she heretofore never dared. She tries harder and harder, and the antagonistic person or force counters her every move. She wins skirmishes and still loses ground.
At Plot Point Two, she faces the reality that she needs to risk everything, even if it means her friends forsake her. Put her life on the line. She sees the potential reward on the opposite bank of the raging river in front of her. She may fail, but not trying to cross is no longer an option. Bruised but wiser, she jumps into Act 3.
In Act 3 things come to a climax. She resolves the issues that have arisen on her journey, first for others, then for herself. The biggest, baddest, hardest problem is resolved last. At the black moment, it appears she has failed. Then she triumphs. She is resurrected. And the story ends with her HEA.
All stories need some version of this story arc to be satisfying. (Think marketable.) Authors often write a first draft then go back and layer in conflict. Other authors pre-plot the main turning points, then write with these intermediate goalposts already in mind. Either way--and there are many permutations in between--is right and good.
The end result is what matters. A story that satisfies our boundless need to share the experience of being human.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The pie is baked. It's my first attempt ever at homemade pumpkin pie...I hope it turns out okay! (At least my sister's also bringing an apple pie...)
The turkeys and Pilgrims are on display.
And the table is set.
Now all we need to do is wait for the company to arrive!
Happy Thanksgiving! many blessings to you and yours.
An Unexpected Blessing - A Thanksgiving novella from The Wild Rose Press
Also available for Kindle.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
In ‘His Leading Lady’, I brought in a character who turned fairly nasty towards the end, which added an extra layer to the story. In both ‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ I had minor characters who revealed information, one out of malice towards the hero (although not necessarily wanting to split hero and heroine up), the other who did hope to cause problems between them because she had her sights set on the hero. Were they villains? I tend to think of them both as characters who threw a spoke into the wheel and created extra problems as a result. In ‘Her Only Option’, the ‘villain’ of the piece isn’t actually revealed until late in the story, which is part of the mystery of who is behind various threats aimed at the hero and heroine. In my recently submitted ‘Dream of Paris’ it’s the ex-fiancée who causes problems, again not directly aimed at splitting up the hero and heroine, but certainly causing the heroine a lot of anguish.
I began to wonder whether there needs to be a villain, or at least an antagonist, in romance novels. Although I’ve had characters who’ve caused problems for the hero and heroine, I’m not sure I would call all of them ‘villains’ or even antagonists.
Is it necessary to have a third party who is jealously or maliciously trying to destroy the relationship between the hero and heroine (for whatever reason)? Or can the ‘antagonist’ be the circumstances in which the main characters find themselves, or the events that happen which seem to be beyond their control? Or maybe the ‘villain’ is their own doubt, distrust or uncertainty, either about themselves or about each other?
I’ll be interested to know how you feel about villains - and/or the kind of ‘villain’ you’ve used in your romance stories.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
- Find other books in your genre and study their titles
- Use visual words
- Use a thesaurus
- Make sure your title is different from what’s already out there
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012
A former Head of English, Lynette gave up her career in education almost three years ago in order to focus on her writing. Since then she has published three contemporary romances: The Apple Tree (December 2011), which won the grand prize in Inspired Romance Novels' writing contest; Wishful Thinking (April 2012) and Shopping for Love (June 2012). In Loving Hate (November 2012) is her first romantic suspense and a more speculative psychological drama, Killing Jenna Crane, is due for release next month.
Lynette lives with her family in an early Victorian cottage in a historic village in Surrey. When not writing, she is an avid reader, loves catching with friends, films and the theatre and can occasionally be seen trying to tame her rather wild garden and keeping the family's eccentric cat out of trouble.
Should we like our heroes and heroines?
I reviewed a novel recently which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, but it occurred to me part-way through it that I really couldn't warm to the main character. This in no way spoiled my enjoyment of the story and nor did it affect my rating, but it did make me wonder whether the writer wanted me to like her or not. It also got me thinking about whether other readers need to be able to like and empathise with the hero or heroine, especially in romances.
This in turn made me think back over some of the reviews of my stories which criticised the hero or heroine and the readers made their feelings evident in their ratings. One reader shocked me by accusing one of my heroines - who had been pressured into becoming a doctor and later regretted it and yearned to leave the profession - of being thoroughly selfish for having taken up a place at med school and depriving someone else! I simply hadn't considered that when I portrayed her unhappiness and dissatisfaction. My aim was to create sympathy for her situation, not anger.
Another reviewer said one of my heroines "tended to act TSTL for a little", which my son had to translate as meaning "too stupid to live". I still smile at that. My heroes too have come in for criticism at times. One was reprimanded for being unintentionally thoughtless in forgetting to mention something to the heroine (which he had dismissed as trivial) and another for going against his own principles after criticising the fault in someone else. I dread to think what readers will make of the main character of my forthcoming release Killing Jenna Crane - he's a famous and successful author who is decidedly unlikeable - and that's quite deliberate!
Fortunately, however, on the whole, readers seem to connect with my characters and feel they can relate to them and that pleases me enormously. They hate my villains, which is as it should be, empathise with my heroines and some even develop crushes on my heroes. One of the sweetest comments I received was from a reader who said: "I want to find my own Nicholas. If I ever find anyone half as decent and loving as that man then I will be a happy woman."
I would love to hear opinions from readers and writers on this subject. Should we like our heroes and heroines as writers and how important is it for us to like them as readers?
In Loving Hate - released 09 November 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
In the story, my heroine, Katy, is a firm believer that Thanksgiving should get its due and be celebrated before any thought of Christmas takes place. Katy is a woman after my own heart. I modeled this part of her character on my own thoughts about the subject.
In one scene, she comes to the door and sees the yard covered in snow. She is not happy. It goes something like this:
One morning Katy opened the door to Joe’s smiling face. Her answering smile faded as she noticed the snow shovel in his hand.
“Why do you have that?” she demanded.
Joe looked down, then his gaze flew to hers. She immediately read the wariness in his eyes, but was so dismayed by what the shovel meant she didn’t take the time to reassure him she wasn’t harboring any thoughts of him doing violence. For the time being, she ignored the sadness slipping through her. She didn’t want Joe to think she was still afraid of him, but at the moment, a more immediate matter occupied her attention.
She peeked over his shoulder and moaned. A light dusting of snow covered the lawn. It sparkled in the sunshine. But she couldn’t appreciate its beauty. “No,” she whined. “It’s only November. It cannot snow.”
Joe raised an eyebrow.
She paused in her tirade to appreciate the effect it had on his face. But only for a brief second. “Snow is for Christmas. Not Thanksgiving. Ugh.”
He chuckled. “Wow. You are really hung up on that, aren’t you?”
In real life it went something like this. I was driving home from a meeting on Monday. A few flurries fluttered through the air. As I got closer to home, a few turned to many, which was extra apparent in the shine of the street lights. I announced my displeasure to my hubby as soon as I walked in the house. By the time I went to bed, some of the snow was starting to stick. In the morning I woke up to this:
Luckily, just like in the story, it melted in an hour or so and we were back to the proper ground covering for Fall.
It made me think...if I would have known I was so good at predicting real life with my stories, I would have included something bigger and better. Maybe in my next book my heroine will win the Lottery!
Until next time,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
Chosen as one of three “Best Up and Coming Authors” for 2003 in Affaire de Coeur’s Readers’ Poll, Nancy’s work has won several awards, including the Golden Leaf, the Write Touch Readers’ Award and the Aspen Gold. A member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc., she also writes book reviews, press releases and newsletters. Nancy lives in a Victorian house with her husband and two mismatched dogs and cheers loudly for the New Jersey Devils hockey team.
Devastated by his wife’s death, Tim thought he’d never find love again. The stoic, sexy doctor was sure he’d left his heart behind when he came to Sanctuary. But Claire stirs up emotions he thought he’d buried long ago. For the first time, the doctor tries to see past his grief.
When Willow falls gravely ill, Tim and Claire must work together to save the horse’s life and to find a love so encompassing, so intense, their lives will never be the same again.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Now I will be the first to admit, I'm no where near an expert on Facebook. In fact, I'm pretty much a total idiot. I need one of those books, "Facebook for Dummies". I'm sure if there's not one out there, there will be soon.
I guess my first mistake was signing up under only my author name and not my real name. In that way I could have better separated the business end from the friend end. I guess I can still do that, but it's definitely a project for when I have a good chunk of time to devote to it.
A friend was kind enough to set up a "Friends of Debra St. John" page for me. But I use that even less than my regular page.
It's just so confusing to me. There seem to be multiple pages that 'belong' to me and it's anyone's guess which one is going to pop up when I log in. If I had more time to devote to it, maybe it would make more sense and I'd be able to use it as a better marketing tool. But I don't. So alas, much of the time my page just sits there...not doing a whole heck of a lot.
All that said, I am going to 'host' a virtual release party on Facebook in a couple of weeks when my new novella comes out. We'll see how that goes. It took me forever to figure out how to send the invite out, but I think I located the proper 'button' and will get that announcement out next week.
So, how about you? Any opinions about social networking? Likes? Dislikes? Successes? Failures?
Until next time,
Coming November 21 for Thanksgiving - An Unexpected Blessing
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Until 2008 when I did a week’s tour of American Civil War battlefields in VA, MD and PA – and happened to meet a Harlequin author who was also doing the tour. She encouraged me to start writing novels again and when I got home, I hunted out some old half-finished stories.
The rest, as they say, is history. I've had four novels published since June 2011, just submitted a fifth one (fingers crossed!), and I’m half way through a sixth. There have been other turning points along the way – not least finding my two fantastic critique partners, ‘meeting’ other writers online, many of whom have become good friends, and, of course, my trip to Egypt two years ago which inspired my latest novel, 'Her Only Option.'
What have been your 'turning points'?
Sunday, November 4, 2012
We went to sell product, and sampling is the way to do that. It is also a great opportunity to people watch.
Little old ladies eat like we are a post-depression buffet. Like seventh grade boys, they look up after each bite to see if we are "on" to them, trying to eat as much as they can before time runs out. They sidestep down the line, taste everything, then say they aren't sure and will need to taste everything again before they can decide whether to buy. A variation is they move on after the first round, then return a half hour later and say they need to refresh their memory. The ones with small shreds of conscience will buy a three dollar dip mix.
Parents fall into categories. Some scoop up handfuls of pretzles and hand them to youngsters in strollers. Others invite their offspring to sample only to decide summarily which goodie will be liked, never giving the offspring a chance to try for themselves. Others remind their children not to double dip, and to move away after a respectable number of tastes. Still others (the ones I dislike the most) will hand their kid a pretzle dipped in habanero hot sauce and hoot with laughter when the kid starts to cry.
The best (IMO) customers rush up, say we are why they came to the craft show, and buy $100 worth of soup mixes to restock their cupboards. Others shop for gifts. Hell's Kitchen Hot Sauce is invariably a stocking stuffer for a son-in-law. It's nice to hear shoppers comment to other shoppers that our mixes are the best.
So... characters and clothes. I saw an older middle-aged woman in bell bottoms and a peasant blouse. Women with rings on every nail-polished finger. Lots of knee-high boots, including a pair that were a cross between leopard and paisley. (My calves are too big for high skinny boots, so I was almost jealous.) No dresses. Slacks or jeans were everywhere, granted this is Minnesota, but it was in only the low 40's and we have no snow. (I wore black jeans. I was working.)
1% of men attending craft shows come to shop. 93.3% of the men don't want to be there. You can tell by their faces. They stand patiently behind their wives, open their mouths when told to (for a sample), then say, "It's up to you, dear." The remaining 5.7% are either working a booth or there with their girlfriends. The latter hold hands, overtly happy to be close together in public.
Faces and body shapes become a blur after eight hours, but embedded in my mental montage is a host of characters. Just waiting for their turn in my spotlight.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Last weekend we headed up to Door County, WI with the rest of the family. (Sixteen of us all told!) It's been an annual trip for the last five years. It was a beautiful weekend: a bit chilly, but sunny. Most of the leaves were gone from the trees, but the forest floor was laden with them, and our hike was satisfyingly crunchy. My niece is an avid photographer and was gracious enough to do a family photo shoot for us. She took over 250 pictures in the space of about fifteen minutes. She's already edited them down to 110, which she'll put on a disc for everyone and deliver at Thanksgiving.
Spending time with family was wonderful. We celebrated birthdays and the end of my sister-in-law's year long battle with Breast Cancer. We had fun splashing in the pool at the resort, played cards, and ate lots and lots of yummy food.
We're already planning next year's trip. Maybe a little earlier to try to catch a bit more of the colorful trees and perhaps weather that's a tad bit warmer. But no matter when we go, one thing's for sure...it's definitely a time for making memories and having fun with the people we love.
Until next time,
An Unexpected Blessing - coming November 21