Michaeline: Poughkeepsie Files #1, “In the Pines”

Japanese print of pines in the fog, barely depicted, and it's on a folding screen, so it's very segmented. Evokes the subconscious.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Where do story ideas come from? It’s a common question, but that doesn’t make it any easier to answer. One science fiction writer glibly answered a fan with “I get them mail-order from Poughkeepsie” (or so the story goes), and that’s where Continue reading

Jilly: What’s on Your Id List?

What things in fiction, big or small, really do it for you? Tropes, characters, premises or details that you enjoy so much you’d auto-buy a book or stick with a really bad movie because of them?

A couple of weeks ago I listened to Writing For Your Id, a workshop presented at this year’s RWA National conference by Dr. Jennifer Barnes, a psychologist, cognitive scientist, and YA romance author. I’m super-grateful to 8 Lady Jeanne for recommending it.

The first part of the presentation, which would have been worth the price of admission, was that certain universal pleasures have become hard-wired into our brains, and encountering those treats when we read gives us a deep-seated hit of happy. Stories or scenes depicting sex, touch, beauty, wealth, power, competition and danger push our pleasure buttons. Different genres are associated with different pleasures, and the workshop offered suggestions about different ways to create pleasure-centric stories and to work with and against the typical pleasure buttons.

Lots of food for thought there, but what really resonated with me was the second part of the presentation: that you make your stories distinctive and memorable by adding in to them stuff that you, the writer, personally really, really like.

The idea is to develop a list of all the things that do it for you and use those things to bring excitement to your writing.

Work out which pleasures recur. Which ones you’re strong on and vice versa. And if you’re not looking forward to writing, get yourself in the mood by adding in something from your Id List.

Dr. Barnes said she has a list of more than a thousand items. I just made a start on mine, but here are a few things I came up with.

Sensible, smart, plain heroines who get the hot guy
Especially the overlooked bluestocking sister with a drop-dead gorgeous sibling.
I’d put Lizzy Bennet top of this list—Jane is beautiful, but Lizzy’s smart and interesting. Or quiet, competent Mary Challoner from Heyer’s Devil’s Cub.

Heroines who shoot the hero
That would be Mary Challoner again. And Jessica from Lord of Scoundrels. And Sophy from The Grand Sophy (well, she shoots a friend to prevent the hero from challenging him to a duel, but I think it counts). Continue reading

Kay: Play It Again

 

Lumberjacks in Love (2008 production): Chase Stoeger, Doug Mancheski, Jeff Herbst, Jane McAnanney, Fred “Doc” Heide. Photographer: Len Villano

I’ve been on vacation to my home state of Wisconsin, and I spent almost a week in Door County, the area at the farthest end of the peninsula. It’s been a destination spot of locals for decades, thrilling the population with every form of cherries, cheese curds, ice cream, and beer, which everyone can wear off swimming and boating in the area’s waterways, as well as hiking through the county’s many parks and forests.

There is also a very fun musical theater group that performs in Peninsula State Park every summer.

Northern Sky Theater has written and produced at least one original play every year since 1988, and by now they have more than 50 plays in their repertoire. Continue reading

Nancy: Because It’s Summer, That’s Why

Two weeks ago, I wrote post #1 about endings, because I was nearing the end of my Women’s Fiction WIP (Take the Money and Run, for those of you keeping score at home). I promised that after last week’s accountability post, I’d be back this week to share endings part 2, complete with an analysis of some of my favorite endings. Yeah, I’m not going to do that. At least not this week.

The truth is, my obsession with endings has temporarily abated. I typed THE END on the first draft of that WIP a week and a half ago and have delved headlong into the prep work for my next Victorian Romance novel. In a few weeks, I’ll be circling back to revise the opening scene (yet again!) of the WF story to make sure it resonates with the ending, so maybe we’ll talk endings part 2 then.

In the meantime, let’s talk about some fabulous summer pastimes: lounging on the beach, sipping frozen cocktails, reading great books, and engaging in library porn. Continue reading

Nancy: June Accountability Thread

It’s officially June, unofficially summertime, and nearly the midpoint of 2018. Unbelievable, right? While I’m trying to figure out where the hell May went, let’s take a look at all the great things we did this past month and set some new goals (or update some old ones) for the new month.

One of the things I’m trying to do more often this year is appreciate the non-writing parts of my life so I can reintroduce some balance into my world. In May, I visited out-of-state relatives, saw a fantastic opera at the Kennedy Center with my favorite (and coincidentally only) daughter, tried some new kinds of Scotch, and hopped a plane to Boston and then drove into the wilds of Massachusetts to meet up with other writers in person. (In fact, I’m writing this blog post on the plane ride home!) Although that last one was a writers’ retreat and therefore writing related, it also included talking about life stuff, making s’mores around a campfire, and dogs – Maya and Dustin, our unofficial retreat mascots. Continue reading

Nancy: May Accountability Thread

All right guys, gals, writers, other creatives, and readers who like to play along at home, it’s time for our monthly accountability thread! In my part of the world, April brought crazy weather, kicking off the month with snow and ending it with record-high temperatures. The month included hosting a fun birthday dinner and next-day brunch for one of my favorite people in the world (my daughter), and hosting a lunch for another favorite person, the lady who introduced me to reading and a love of books (my mother). I also got to engage with some good friends/fellow writers ‘in the wild’, via phone, Skype, and even in person.

That was all great stuff, but I also had a lot of writing projects and a few well-defined goals set for April. As you might recall, I hit a bit of mid-month turbulence in my writing life. Fortunately, I still managed to make some progress toward my goals.

April Goals with Outcomes

1) Get back to work on my Women’s Fiction project. Continue reading

Nancy: April Accountability Thread

Phew, we made it through March! At least the last week was more lamb-like in my little corner of the world, but it was not an easy month. It’s never been my favorite. In fact, it’s often 12 out of 12 for the year as far as I’m concerned, and in 2018 I found it particularly annoying. The silver lining to the dark cloud that was March was that my writing goals went so much better than many other parts of life, so it wasn’t all bad.

March Goals with Outcomes

1) Finish the damn website. DONE! As I reported a few weeks ago, NancyHunterbooks.com is up and running! I’m continuing to make tweaks to it, but until I get my book covers, the edited first chapter excerpts, and (eventually) ‘Buy’ links to add, I’m crossing this one off my list, it’s pretty well set. Words cannot express how happy I am to have this done, so imagine an interpretive dance of joy here ;-)! Continue reading