Justine: Getting Perspective on a Series

eyeglasses and deskAs some of you may know, I’ve been on a hiatus for the last two years working as the PTA president for my kids’ school (Pro Writing Tip: If you want to make progress on your book, don’t volunteer for the prez position…or any other board position, for that matter). I’m grateful that I had a hand in getting their school up and running (it was just opening at the time), but now I’m learning to say “No.” A very valuable word if you want to make forward progress on any personal endeavor.

I will say that the hiatus from writing has allowed me to see my book, when I finally came back to it this fall, in a whole new light, and some advice from an editor I met on a writing cruise in October lent even more clarity…in particular to who my book was about, and indeed who and what the whole planned three-book series is about.

Background: My historical series had always intended to be about Continue reading

Michaeline: Fallow

Sheaves of wheat, covered in snow

“January” by Grant Wood, via Wikimedia Commons

Fallow, fallow, wallow, swallow. Swallows of Capistrano, and soon it’ll be spring again.

LOL, forgive me. I’m a bit out of practice. I haven’t written a darn thing since January 30th. I cooked and cleaned for the New Year, and then I took a break. I slept. Oh, lordy, I slept! I went to bed early, I woke up late, I took naps, and even now, I’m looking at the bed in the corner of my spare bedroom and thinking a power nap might help me write a fabulous post for the new year. I recognize the perfect post is an illusion, and keep writing.

When I’ve been up, I’ve been reading. My goodness, having a pair of reading glasses is making a difference! I read two Wiseman books about the group dynamics of teens – teens are the best drama generators in the world, so I figured it might be a helpful dash of fertilizer to my fallow, fallow brain. My conscious mind isn’t doing much with Queen Bees and Masterminds; I think the best thing to do with pop psychology is to read it, and let the subconscious mind sort it all out, and bring out the useful bits in a story. I’m also reading a lot of Captain Awkward’s advice columns, so when the advice collides with a likely character, I’ll be ready to capture the whole thing down with my pen and paper.

I’m not quite ready to get back to work (see above paragraph about the siren song of the bedsheets). Monday is a public holiday, so I think I’m going to sleep some more, and read some more, and then catch up on my internet obligations. By then, I should be raring to go back to my old story, or maybe a new story, and turn my thoughts into readable words, and be able to share them with others.

I feel very naughty and indulgent, but sometimes, it’s a good idea to spoil yourself. Isn’t it? We’ll see, come Tuesday morning!

In the meantime, I hope 2018 is treating you all well, and bringing you many things to think about and wonder about.

Michaeline: Much Joy in the New Writing

Here we are, almost at the end of another year. Four steps forward and three steps backwards, in a subtle dance of time and rhythm that makes us feel as if we haven’t gotten anywhere at all sometimes – but we have! Or at least, we’re in a different place than we were last year at this time.

The holidays don’t just happen; it takes a whole lot of work, and many times, we’re supported in our preparations by society, which makes it easier and easier to get stuff done and put on a good show for that Happy Holiday. Why, if we wanted to, we could have an almost-instant holiday with pre-decorated trees and a turkey TV dinner. Or we could try the other side of the spectrum, by using the internet to order a smoked turkey from that eccentric farmer, and the finest Bohemian glass globes from half way around the world. The trimmings are easier, but it’s our own hearts that bring the real joy and meaning to the celebration.

Do I have to spell it out? Writing is the same thing. We live in a time where we can get online support and critiques, buy the best organizing tools ever, and even publish ourselves with only our own Inner Censors as the sole gatekeepers of our work. Or we could get a pencil and paper, and then publish pictures of our handwritten pages on Instagram. It’s all trimmings. What really matters is the happiness you get from writing.

This is my last blog post of 2017; may 2018 bring you all wonderful ideas and opportunities to really enjoy what you write. Happy New Year!

Jeanne: The Thin Line Between Alpha and Predatory

Recently, I went back and read a make-out scene I’d written a couple of years earlier, where the guy basically shoves my heroine up against a lamppost, sticks his tongue down her throat and presses his erection against her belly. At the time I wrote it, it seemed sexy. It was also well justified because the male character was possessed by a demon. (Although the demon’s actually the good guy and the bad behavior is all on the part of his human host, but that’s a whole, quirky story–The Demon’s in the Details, coming in October, 2017).

When I reread the scene in light of Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey/Roy Moore/Louis C.K./Matt Taibbi/Al Franken/ad infinitum/ad nasuem, it didn’t work for me anymore. I didn’t like the hero for what he did, I didn’t like the heroine for not punching him in the face for doing it, and I didn’t like myself for perpetuating the myth that men who ignore a woman’s right to affirmative consent are sexy.
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Jeanne: Interview with Priscilla Oliveras

I’m experimenting with a new type of post–an interview with a fellow author. My plan is to ask, not just easy questions, but challenging questions specific to this particular author, either through their body of work, or through how they present themselves on social media.

For my first-ever interview, I asked Priscilla Oliveras, a fellow RWA® 2015 Golden Heart® finalist. I chose Priscilla because she’s kind of a hero of mine, for reasons I hope will become apparent as you read the interview. Priscilla’s first book, His Perfect Partner, was released in October 2017.

Question 1: You were a Golden Heart® finalist four times. What made you keep entering when your first final didn’t result in publication? 

Hardheadedness? 😉

Probably my love for the genre and my desire to share the stories and characters I kept imagining. This is a tough business. Rejection, unfortunately, is a large part of it. Being an active member of RWA® has blessed me with a great network of fellow romance authors–friends and mentors–whose successes and misses both inspire and fuel me. My family is a great source of support, too. They’ve encouraged me through all the ups and down, never giving up on me. So there’s no way I was giving up on myself, either.

Whether is was fate or faith or whatever you wanna call it, each of my GH finals seemed to come at a time when I needed the boost. When the reminder that maybe I wasn’t just knocking my head against the wall, and maybe my goal of publishing had potential, soothed my psyche. Each final was the shot in the arm I needed at that specific moment. And the instant GH family that forms when you final is an incredible gift.

Did I wish I had published sooner and no longer been eligible to enter the GH? Sure. But I’ll take the good that comes my way and focus on that to keep fueling my desire to do better. Continue reading

Jeanne: Dialogue Lessons

In October, I took an online dialogue class with Linnea Sinclair. It was a great class and I learned a lot. If you get an opportunity to study with Linnea, I highly recommend her.
One of the lessons had to do with beats, those bits of action that are interspersed with dialogue to illuminate a character’s emotions, motivations or intentions. As an exercise, Linnea provided us with the following dialogue:
“I can’t believe you went out and bought one,” Erica said.
“Don’t you dare tell Kermit,” Vanessa replied.
“You think he’ll be angry?” Erica asked.
“It’s my money. I saved up for this.”
“Remember, I’m just a phone call away if you need me.”

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