Monday, February 26, 2018

My Kind of Vacation

Ana muses about her recent mini-vacation.

Two weeks ago, my hubby drove to a farming conference in Tennessee, a major expedition from winter in northern Minnesota. I stayed home and tended the cows, six water-pipes-will-burst-if-they-go-out heaters, and two spoiled house cats. I was on vacation.

Don't misunderstand. I love the man. I enjoy cooking his breakfast and don't mind bunching his socks. But not having to share the television remote was sheer bliss.

I turned the channel to Hallmark and indulged in their Valentine's Day movie marathon. Romance stories about professional women clashing with fairly good looking ex-boyfriends and sparring with really good looking career-focused men.

One was set in a California winery. Another in a Montana ski resort town. A third in a bed and breakfast in Vermont. An in-debt-with-time-running-out Wyoming ranch. Sumptuous locations.

All the secondary characters were there. The best friend confidant who tells her what she doesn't want to hear: that the hero who pisses her off is her perfect partner. The supportive and long-suffering parents. The long-distance boss who doesn't care how much she wants to come back to the city. Complete the assignment or look for another job. The crabby/nosy neighbor who finds fault at every turn.

Immersed in a romance atmosphere, free of distractions, I worked on my WIP, book 2 of the Prairie Hearts series. If I'd gone someplace sunny and warm, I probably wouldn't have written a word.

I'll take holed up alone any day, but don't tell my hubby. He's still apologizing for leaving me with all the chores.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Power of a Writer

Debra thinks about what amazing power writers hold.

This weekend I hosted a children's book discussion at our Historical Society based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. As the kids and I were chatting about the book, we turned to the author notes at the back of the edition I had. A quote from Ms. MacLachlan stood out as she responded to the question of 'What is the best thing about being a writer?'

"For me the most rewarding thing about writing is making things come out the way I want them to; making sense of the things that were in my life when I was a child as well as the things that I care about now that I am an adult. As a writer I have the power to set things down and make them right, that same power that I don't always have in life."

Her response really struck a chord with me. The power writers have at their fingertips is really amazing. We have infinitely more control over the lives of our fictional characters than we do over our own. Even over simple things like the weather: if my story calls for a sunny day at the beach...wa la...the sun pours down, heating the grains of sand and sparking over the water. If the angst and turmoil and tension of a scene needs to be back lit by a thunderstorm...boom!...thunder shakes the earth and lightning forks through the sky lighting it with a brilliant flash.

We control our characters' emotions and reactions. We give them backgrounds and backstory. And especially in romance, we give them a happily ever after. Guaranteeing that after all of the angst and turmoil and bad things that have happened in the past, they are going to be happy. Everything is going to work out in the best way possible. Not to sound blasphemous, but it's a little like playing God.

You have only to turn on the news. Or look on Facebook. Or open an on-line search engine and read the heart-breaking headlines there each and every day to know this doesn't happen in real life.

But not only do we have the power to control our characters and stories, we also have the power to make our readers feel good after a crap day...or a crap week...or a crap year. To let them immerse themselves in a story with a good ending. To know for certain, that no matter what the characters are going through and how long it takes them to get there or what bad needs to be overcome, it will all be overcome. To lose themselves in fiction for a while to take the edge off of reality.

It's a daunting responsibility to think that as much joy as we get out of our writing (most days, right?!) how much more joy we can bring to those who read our stories. Not to mention in a world that more and more often feels like it's falling apart, being able to control anything is truly a miracle.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Writing a Synopsis

Paula agonises over her synopsis!  

I read somewhere that the synopsis is probably ‘the most despised document you might be asked to prepare’ – and, having spent hours trying to write the synopsis of my recently completed novel, I agree with that!

My previous publisher only required a basic ‘blurb’ when I submitted a novel to her, so I was well out of practice in writing a synopsis.

Of course, I knew the basic advice about synopses – characters, core conflict, how the characters deal with it, how the conflict is resolved and how the characters have changed as a result.

All well and good, but what happens if you have several sub-plots which add to and/or further complicate the core conflict? Or which hinder or contribute to the resolution of the conflict?

I think this novel had more sub-plots than I’ve ever used before. Sometimes they form separate strands (for a while, at least!),but then they become interwoven and often somewhat tangled!

I started by writing a basic plot summary. Maybe that is similar to what I might have written beforehand if I was a ‘plotter’ – but, being a ‘pantser’, this was the first time I had done it. It was, inevitably, far too detailed, with too many names and too much irrelevant information. 

But, having done that, I could then see (a) what had to be deleted, (b) what could be condensed and (c) what needed to be taken out of the ‘linear’ outline of the story and combined, so that the synopsis didn’t jump from one thing to another.

So, after tearing my hair out a few times, I finally managed to compose a synopsis, which I hope reflects the most important parts of my story, as well as the emotional journey of the two main characters.

I’d be interested to know how you approach synopsis writing!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Editing, Editing & More Editing

Jennifer gives an update...

I’ve been buried in my editing cave for the past several weeks, and I’m just now coming up for air. What have I been working on? Glad you asked! J

For the past few years, I’ve been working on a new series that I hope to start pitching in the near future. So I was editing books one and two to try to get them into shape. I’m hoping I was successful. I still have book 3 to revise—and it needs some serious revisions—and book four to write. This is a series I work on in my spare time (ha!), so it’s taken a while to get up and running.

I finally received my galleys for Five Minutes to Love from my editor, so I spent a week scouring the manuscript for misspelled words, additional or missing words (like a double “is,” for example), spacing issues or punctuation mistakes. My eyes are buggy, but I think I caught everything. Next step is to make sure they corrected all the errors and then I will have a release date. In the meantime, Addicted to Love, the first book in this series, is on sale this month for 99 cents. So it's a great time to pick it up!

I’ve also been re-editing my first book, A Heart of Little Faith. The publisher who had it is getting out of the business this summer, so I took my rights back and will try my hand at self-publishing that title (and maybe one other). I’m curious to see how it compares to other means of publishing, and I like the idea of being a hybrid author. So I sent the manuscript out to an editor, she has come back with fantastic changes, and I’m slowly going through them, making the book stronger. Next step will be copyedits.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been up to lately. Hoping to have some news soon!

Oh, and happy birthday to Debra! J

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Basking in the Glow

Ana feels good about Success

A writer friend's first romance was released by Kensington on Tuesday.
Each month, authors in on the Soul Mate Publishing roster have their books published.

Debra is waiting for news on her latest submission.
Paula is polishing her latest (and possibly greatest) story.
Jen is super busy setting up promo for new stories.
I am writing chapter four of a contracted story, book 2 in the Prairie Hearts Series.

At least once a day, I lean back and bask in the glow of everyone's success--not to steal any morsels, but to appreciate how good we all are. And to thank the systems that allow us to create works of creative art and share them with readers all over the world.

It's time for a quick, "Hooray!"