Tag Archives: writing

Sometimes Things don’t go as Planned

Angry, Frustrated WomanI’m at the end of a book. I  think. I  hope.

This story has been a pain in my butt since day one. I’ve already rewritten the entire first 40,o00 words. Today, 76,000 words into the manuscript, I have an epiphany about my hero’s character arc.

Seriously?

I’m almost done.  Now my muse is telling me I have it all wrong?

I hate my muse. She’s a moody bitch.

OK, so she’s also right (which makes me hate her even more).

I plotted this book before I started writing it, just like I do every time. But as the writing progressed, something wasn’t right. The story didn’t flow. Half-way through, I decided to let my muse have her way. I replotted the ENTIRE book and rewrote nearly 175 pages.

Sometimes things just don’t go the way they’re planned. Sometimes characters have other ideas, or the story takes on its own life and MUST have its way.

Anyway, you won’t be hearing from me again until this WIP is done.  I’m not going to make my muse’s demanding changes yet. I’ll push through and finish the draft, but my list of project notes is PAGES and PAGES long. The editing stage will be lengthy and painful with  this book.

Going back into the cave. Wish me luck,

Melinda

The Doctor and River Song

The Doctor and River Song in The Name of the Doctor

If you are a Doctor Who fan then you either love River Song or you hate her. Is there an in between? I happen to love her. She is tough, smart, sassy, and can slap the doctor silly. (I hear actress Alex Kingston doesn’t pull her punches.) I hope to see more of her in the future with the 12th Doctor. Or would that be the past? Her past maybe. It’s all a bit wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, isn’t it? Sorry if that reference doesn’t make sense to non-Whovians, but basically the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels through space and time in his TARDIS and protects Earth from alien invasions. He can live for hundreds of years and cheats death by turning himself into a new actor. ;) River is also a time traveler. She and the Doctor don’t always meet in the right order, which makes dating and marriage difficult though they seem to manage. It’s really quite fun.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to study the chemistry between the 11th Doctor and River to find out what makes them such a great couple. Definitely the banter.

From the Impossible Astronaut:

Doctor: [smugly, just after explaining how he determined where the mysterious phone calls to President Nixon were originating from] …And Doctor Song, you’ve got that face on again.

River Song: [bemused] What face?

Doctor: The ‘He’s-hot-when-he’s-clever’ face.

River Song: This is my normal face!

Doctor [even more smugly]: Yes it is.

River Song: Oh, shut up.

Doctor: [smiling] Not a chance.

Also from the Impossible Astronaut:

Doctor: Shout if you get into trouble.

River Song: Don’t worry. I’m quite the screamer. Now there’s a spoiler for you.

But what else is going on that draws viewers in? I ask because I’m creating characters right now where the hero is a scientist, a thinker, a brainiac and the heroine is a warrior. It didn’t dawn on me until a few days ago that my couple sounded like the Doctor and River…well minus the time traveling, and the living for hundreds of years…and oh, a lot of other stuff. The question is how do I make my pair a winning combination? How do you make a warrior heroine tough but not over the top? How do you make a scientist hero clever but not annoyingly so? How do I make each vulnerable for the other (yes, it’s a romance…with action-adventure and a bit of sci-fi)? I’d love to hear your thought in the comments section even if you don’t have advice to share and just want to talk about Doctor Who. :)

Anyone know what time the 50th Anniversary special is supposed to air in NJ?

By the way,  happy to report that my sci-fi romance Captive (book #1 in the Survival Race series) is now available at Amazon UK!

~K.M. Fawcett

Write What You Know

At an RWA national conference a few years ago, I sat in on a workshop that helped me understand what ‘write what you know’ means. In this workshop, we were all asked to write down every job we’ve ever had and the roles we’ve played in life throughout the years. I listed: Administrative Assistant to NY Fortune 500 Executive, Secretary in a pool of thirty, College student/graduate, receptionist at a veterinarian hospital, retail associate at a design store, owner of my own Interior Design business, Substitute teacher grades K-12, Girl Scout Leader, bridesmaid, maid of honor, mother, sister, wife, daughter, godmother, friend and aunt.

The speaker asked us to think about how we could use the professions we’ve spent time in as part of our books. Can our hero/heroine work in a field we’ve worked in? Can he/she be a parent? A scout leader? A teacher? An Admin? Instead of all those billionaires/tycoons in a lot of romances out there could we make him/her someone our reader could relate to so they could come to life on the page? The speaker then went on to explain that if you took what you know and incorporated it into your books, your writing voice be more genuine.

She encouraged our group to think about how our hero/heroine might become more relatable–more three-dimensional–and how it would be easier for your reader to sympathize with because they’re so real? Long after this workshop I thought about what the speaker had said and something clicked. It was my light bulb moment. So, I took her advice and incorporated a part of who I am into my next book, and like they say, the rest is history : )

My first book, All You Need Is Love features, Little Man, my family dog, who we lost to illness. It is the biggest tribute I can pay him and his cuteness jumps off every page. I love dogs, always have, and through no planning of my own, a dog pops up in every book I write. Dogs are better than secondary characters because they make people vulnerable without saying a word. We’re allowed to be our true selves around them without any judgment and their unconditional love brightens the darkest day.

Marrying Mr. Right’s heroine, Missy Modesto, is similar to a good friend I’ve known my whole life. Missy is a strong, tough, yet loving woman with a heart of gold and although years may pass between visits, when we do meet, it feels like yesterday : ) Training Travis is about a divorced dad who gains custody of his fifteen year old daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death. And even though I can’t personally relate to being divorced, I am the mother of two girls, so I can relate to Travis’ fifteen year old daughter and the mood swings of a teenage girl. My first women’s fiction, Pieces Of Candy, is about a menopausal, mother of two. Candy is a substitute teacher and decides she’s wants a real career of her own. So begins her journey into interior design : )

The speaker at that conference knew what she was talking about–and I wish I’d heard her speak many years ago.  Still, it’s never too late and once I took her advice my writing voice has been with me ever since.  I think it’s really about being true to yourself and who you are as a writer….and this probably isn’t something that can be used for every genre to the extent that I’ve gone. Yet, I can’t help but think it would be hysterical to read a book about an interior designer who dies, comes back as a ghost and keeps rearranging the furniture, sending the people she left behind literally flying!

Best,

Cathy Tully

Exotic Settings for Stories – by guest blogger Sascha Illyvich

Torn to Pieces_USA Today bannerToday I’d like to welcome guest blogger and erotic romance author Sascha Illyvich to Attacking The Page.

What sort of settings do you like exploring in your romances?  Are you fond of the newly created worlds authors come up with, with new rules?  Or do you long for something paranormal to happen in the modern world with only slight changes to the game of life?

In Torn to Pieces, my USA TODAY Recommended Read from Sizzler Editions, I chose Albuquerque, NM as the base for the story.  My heroes are wolves and the heroine (it’s a ménage) is a witch who longs for free land to roam and play.

I spent a considerable amount of time there before writing the book and have actually used Albuquerque as a backdrop for several stories.  Most notably, Torn to Pieces, but also for an upcoming Secret Cravings Publishing release entitled Raining Kisses.  In fact, the loft Iolite lived in is the same loft Nicholaus lived in as I used the place I stayed in while on business there.

Things I like about Albuquerque, NM as a backdrop for books.

  1. It’s spacious.  Mountains, desert, a decent downtown scene
  2. The weather appeals to the supernatural curious in me
  3. I won’t lie, the bars downtown are pretty hip too LOL!

The thing about the bars has more to do with the fact that it’s got a party scene, so if I want to set spy stories there, or have characters who hide, it’s perfect.  I really enjoyed looking out on my balcony with a cigar in hand at the majestic mountains, and seeing some of America’s history at the same time.

Still, the snow in winter sucks LOL!

Where are some of the places you like to “visit” from books you’ve read?

Pick up Torn to Pieces on Amazon

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Thank you for joining us today Sascha!

Elements of a Good Critique Partnership – A Repeat

Since I’m on the topic of Beta Readers, I thought I’d replay a post I did a while back about critique partners.

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I am very fortunate. I have an awesome critique partner. Melinda won’t hesitate to tell me when I’ve gotten it right, and at the same time she’ll tell me when I’m stinking up the page. I like to think I offer the same to her. What makes our partnership work? There are many factors involved in finding the right critique match, but here are just a few things that work for us.

First, and most important, is trust. Without that you’re finished before you start. You’re putting your work in your partner’s hands in the hopes of receiving honest feedback and help in improving not just your manuscript, but also your overall craft. Bottom line trust is vital.

Complimentary skill sets are a plus. Both Melinda and I bring something different to the table. Things that I tend to be completely escape my notice she’ll pick up on and vice versus.

Have a thick skin. Being in the publishing industry, you’re going to need one anyway. You’re going to need to be able to take constructive criticism whether it comes from your critique partner or your editor. On the other hand, a good critique partner won’t try and tear you down or make you feel bad about your work. A good critique partnership is about mutual respect and honest input.

Be honest with each other. When I send pages to Melinda, I’ll tell her to tear it to shreds. Why? First, because the only way I’ll improve the story and my skills is if I have someone combing through it with a critical eye. Second, I know that the dissection will be done thoughtfully and with respect. Third, because she may have suggestions that would never occurred to me.

You don’t have to write in the same genre, but it helps to be a familiar with the genre your partner writes. A critique partner who is not familiar with your genre may be able to offer suggestions on the basic technical skills of writing, but not the nuances of the genre.

Communication is key. If you don’t feel that you can offer a helpful critique you need to let your partner know. For example, I write M/M romance. I realize it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Before I started sending chapters to Melinda or before I send to a Beta reader I let them know up front the nature of the story. I never want to send someone something they are not comfortable reading. Also, if life has gotten crazy, you need to let your partner know what kind of turn around time you can give them.

Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and be supportive when disappointments happen. Your partner will most likely be the one you turn to when things happen along your publication journey. It’s nice to have someone one to support you who also understands what you’re going through.

These are just a few suggestions of what makes a good critique partner. Do you have any other to add to the list?

~Rayna

The End…But Not Really

The EndSomething really exciting happened for me recently. I got to The End of another book. Woohoo!! But as I’m sure my fellow authors out there know, getting to the end is just the beginning. There’s still a lot of work ahead. But before tackling edits, I like to have someone read the story. Generally, I pick someone who has never seen the story before because I like to get a fresh opinion.

I consider myself lucky because I have many writer friends that will be very critical beta readers.  But sometimes you get back those comments and you just want to go hide under the covers. When I got back my friends comments on this draft I had a minor freak out. It wasn’t because the comments weren’t expected, I sort of knew my trouble spots.  It was that I had no idea how to fix the issues, and I was dreadfully afraid I was going to have to star from scratch.

Have you ever been there? Maybe it’s because you’ve already spent too much time with the characters and their story. Maybe you’re just sick to death of your books, as I tend to be when I get to the end.  But whatever the reason, it’s like you’ve slammed into a wall and you just can’t see a way around it.

Some say take some time away and let it soak in. I’m not that patient of a person. I like knowing that I’m done and I’m free to move on to other things.  What worked for me to tear down that wall was hashing it out with my brilliant beta reader. With a fresh round of brainstorming I pulled that wall down brick by brick and found a solution to my story problems that was manageable.

 

Knowing When to Hit Send

Send ButtonHow do you know when it’s time to stop editing and just hit send? My writing group was recently having a discussion about the editing process. It stemmed from a comment an author made about how once they finished a manuscript they just send it out and they don’t bother with revisions unless and editor sent them a revise and resubmit. Was I surprised by the comment? No. I know there are writers out there who want to be assured of a sale before investing the time to do extensive revisions. Me, I could never do that.

 Being a part of professional writers organizations, polishing a manuscript until it’s as shiny as I can make it is sort of ingrained. For myself, I need to know that I’m putting my best work forward. I think about my most recent submission. I went through multiple rounds of critiques and beta reads before I was finally ready to hit the send button on the submission email. Believe me, I was half tempted to have someone do on more read through just in case. I stopped myself from doing that, but largely because my massive impatience kicked in. I just couldn’t deal with looking at those pages one minute longer. I wanted to be done with it and have it out of my hair. I wanted the sense of accomplishment that came with hitting the send button.  

I think all of us writers could go round and round reading, critiquing, and tweaking a WIP in the hopes of polishing our manuscript to perfection. But, at some point we have to let it go. We have to put it out there for the world to view. So writers, how do you know when you’re ready to let that manuscript fly? If you haven’t submitted anything yet, why not? What’s holding you back?

What Makes a Hero Sexy?

word-sexyWhat makes a hero sexy? When a friend of mine posed this topic to me a while back, I figured this would be a pretty easy question to answer. The more I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t as easy of a question to answer as I’d hoped. Why? In part because sexy, in my opinion, is very subjective. What one person finds attractive another won’t. So,  I started thinking about some of the characters I found sexy in books and what traits made made them so appealing.

At the top of my list is Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I’ll also include both Joe Morelli and Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series. What do these particular characters have in common?

First they’re all attractive. That’s part of the fantasy after all isn’t it.  As a reader, I like to have pretty people wandering through my head as I’m told a story.  Depending on the writer they run the gambit on how descriptive they are in describing their characters attractiveness, but they leave you just enough room to formulate your own image of that character whether it be a celebrity of something that’s purely a figment of your own imagination.

Another shared characteristic of sexy heroes is intelligence. Let’s face it, your character could be an Adonis, but it they’re dumb as a stump no one is going to read on.  Me personally, I have a thing for the  geeky hero. For me super smart is extremely sexy.

A third trait that I think is part of the sexy hero formula is confidence.  Jumping back to the three characters I mentioned everyone one of them is a badass and they know it.  It’s not only because they can kick ass.  It’s their attitude it just drips with power and self assurance. It’s because of that confidence that it’s uber sexy when they make themselves vulnerable to the person that they love.

I’m sure there are more traits that make up a sexy hero these are just a few that come off the top of my head. But I’ll put it out there to you. What do you think makes a hero sexy and memorable?

~Rayna

 

Revising: A Scene by Scene Checklist

Pad of Paper & PenWith my draft 98% complete, I’ll soon be entering the sacred revision zone with my latest work-in-process.  (Hallelujah!)  My first read through will be to take out the sucky parts. The second pass will be to address stuff that’s missing. I’ll make  notes on open threads and check them off as I address them.  Step #3 is the final scene checklist.  I’m sure other authors have different lists, and my checklist differs depending on the particular difficulties I experienced during the writing process. I usually start with general concepts and progress to the more nitpicky stuff.

Scene Checklist SHE CAN HIDE:

  • Can I identify the scene goals? Have I met them? If no to either of these questions, do I really need this scene?
  • Is the tension working the way it should?
  • Is the POV (character point-of-view) clear and consistent? (I added the definition here because when I received notes back on my first ever contest submission, POV was noted all over it. I had no idea what POV meant.)
  • Who is in the scene? Have I lost anyone? Where is the dog?
  • Emotion, there should be some.
  • Are the beginning and ending hooks strong enough?
  • Eliminate repetitive and/or boring prose.
  • Are my characters repeating the same physical movements. Seriously, I read a progression of scenes recently in which my characters just stood in doorways through the whole thing.
  • Is the scene rooted in place, time, weather, etc.

Does anyone else have any items I missed?

On Self-Doubt and Goldfish

Goldfish in fishbowlI’m finishing up a draft this week, a particularly rough book for me. (I know I say that all the time). I was about 1/3 of the way through my manuscript and completely on schedule when tragedy struck our family. I ended up spending 3 weeks out of town with no opportunity or desire to write. When I finally returned home, there was another week of getting back into the household routine. My kids had missed a full week of school. Their load of makeup work wasn’t pretty.

By the time I was able to get back to my book, nearly a month had passed since I’d last worked on it. Who were these characters and what on earth were they doing? I struggled for the next couple of weeks, my deadline looming on the calendar.  Frankly, I didn’t care much about the story, the characters, or the plot. The whole family was still grieving and  struggling to catch up. Teachers were the usual mix of helpful and horrible. Stress was spelled with a capital S.

So, what did I do?

Friends suggested I ask for an extension, but the very thought of missing a deadline gave me a case of hives. I still had some time. I was just going to have to hustle. But every day, my lack of progress dug me deeper and deeper into a hole. I was beginning to think I would have to call my editor after all, despite the fact that contemplating it made me hyperventilate.  My editor is a sweet, sweet person. She was aware of the situation and would have understood. But time  wasn’t the entire point or the heart of the problem.

I was Austin Powers. I’d lost my Mojo.

My answer? I wrote.  Every day. A net gain of 2,000 words at minimum. No excuses. No matter how much I wanted to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, I dragged my sorry ass into my office each morning. The first week I was up until midnight nearly every night. But I refused to leave my desk unless I had made my progress. 2,000 words a day shouldn’t be that hard. But when you aren’t in tune with your story or characters, it sure seems like a lot. I was doing a lot of deleting, some days logging over like 4,000 words or more just to keep my minimum net daily gain. The first thing I’d do when I opened my document was delete half the crap I wrote the day before. I couldn’t keep the plot lines and character arcs in my head from day to day. I was a goldfish in a bowl, swimming all day and not going anywhere. I sucked.

But another 2 weeks went by and I was deleting less and adding more. I started keeping a list of notes. I added two additional subplots that hadn’t been in my plan. Then one day I woke up excited to write. YEAH!!!!

Hello, Mojo! Where have you been?

I’m not quite finished yet. I have maybe 10,000 words to go to finish my first draft. Does it still need work? Yes. Do parts of the book still suck. Yes again. Am  I super-enthusiastic to work on it every morning? Not really. But as long as I finish this freaking draft, I can fix it. It’s not like I chiseled the words into a slab of granite. All I have to do is type over them. It’s not that hard. Why couldn’t I look at it this way a month ago?

So, when self-doubt strikes, I recommend planting your butt in the chair and write if you have to duct tape your ass to the seat.  Yes, the goldfish feeling sucks, but I haven’t found a shortcut to getting back into the groove. Has anyone else?