Photo: The Harris Poll
It’s always something. Just a few days ago, Jeanne talked about how she used enneagrams to clarify who her characters are, because she thought they weren’t behaving consistently. I usually have a pretty good grip on my characters right from the start—that’s almost always why I write a story to begin with. Somebody out there speaks up.
My problem is plot. And conflict. Which, if I had enough conflict, I’d have more plot. It’s a vicious cycle.
A few months ago, when I was ready to start a new project, I didn’t have any new ideas. Nobody spoke to me, demanding to be put on a page. The girls in the basement didn’t send anybody up. So I decided to write a story that’s been noodling around in my brain for a few years. It would be the continuation of a two-book FBI series, of which the second book was finished in 2012. Continue reading
It’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I’m a big fan of words. When writing, I love it when I find just the right one, with just the right nuanced meaning to get an idea across. I like words that are slightly old fashioned or not commonly used; words that are whimsical; and words that are evocative. I’d give you some examples but naturally, all the words in my head went into hiding as soon as I tried to find them.
I’ve been doing more of my reading on my Kindle app recently and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed is being able to click on a word and instantly get a definition while I’m reading along. Sure, I could pull out the dictionary when reading a physical book, but that’s not nearly as instantaneous. I’m finding that I’m looking up words fairly frequently – even words I’m pretty familiar with – just to be sure I’ve got their meaning correct. I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where my understanding of the meaning of a word was not quite as precise as I’d thought.
Looking up a word when you are not completely sure of the meaning is one thing, but what happens when you encounter a phrase that leaves you puzzled?
I’m thinking about a book I read a while back that had the line: Continue reading
I’ve been reading the Ladies’ posts—you know which ones I mean—the ones where everybody talks about their development editors, proofreaders, graphic artists, cover designers, blog tours, FaceBook friends, Twitter followers, and advertising campaigns. I am totally in awe for the time, energy, commitment, and planning all this work requires. I admire them beyond words for what they’re doing.
I’ve never done any of that.
Not that I’m proud of it. Far from it. Mostly I’m just super lazy. And I’m an ex-editor by trade, so when I think my manuscript is as good as I can make it, I get a cover, and I publish it. Done. And sometimes people buy my book and leave a review, so overall, I’m fine with my career, as low-key as it is.
However. Continue reading
What have you been reading lately? What did you like or dislike? Did you learn anything?
Over the last few weeks I’ve sampled a number of new-to-me authors and had the same problem with several of them. I always read the blurb, Look Inside excerpt and a few sample reviews before buying, so none of my purchases was a disaster. They all had interesting characters, an intriguing premise, and quality writing, but either I didn’t finish them, or I skimmed to the end to see how the author wrapped up the plot.
I gave up on these books because I got overloaded. It seemed clear that all the information stuffed into the opening chapters would be used at some point in the story, but the pacing was lightning-fast and data was thrown at me until I wanted to beg for mercy. I was too busy trying to remember everything to care about the main characters. In the end, the read became too much like hard work and I quit, which was a shame.
In one book, we learned Continue reading
#MeToo is an awesome thing, the zeitgeist of our times. It’s put everyone on notice: the old ways/jokes/behaviors/assumptions are over! Including how you approach fiction, especially (maybe) romantic comedy, which is more or less what I usually write.
Two days ago the Washington Post published an article that revisited some old rom-coms, analyzing how male rom-com behaviors that 10 or 20 years ago seemed cute and fun now look stalker-ish in light of #MeToo. And yesterday Jenny Crusie wrote a blog about that article and how her books appear in the glare of 20/20 #MeToo hindsight. (Spoiler alert: She thinks mostly her books hold up okay, in part because her heroes aren’t alpha males out to conquer. There’s a lot more to the discussion, so check it out.) Continue reading
If you’re looking for our normal Friday Writing Sprints post, we kicked things off a little earlier this week on Wednesday with our 4th Annual Short Story Challenge. If you missed it, check out our first entry, Kay’s fun Botticelli Pizza story. We’ll be posting other entries in the coming days, including my own story next Wednesday.
In the meantime, I’m taking a break and doing a little comfort reading and movie watching. It never quite feels like the holiday season is official unless I’ve watched Love Actually at least once (though I tend to enjoy it all year-round). I’ll even admit to watching more than my fair share of holiday movies via the Hallmark Channel in recent weeks. They may be predictable, color-blind, and even a bit sexist at times, but they provide a nice Continue reading
Are you a Happy Holidayer? I suspect I’m the token Grinch among the Ladies. While my fellow bloggesses are decorating their homes with emotionally significant ornaments, baking seasonal treats, and recommending feelgood stories, I’m counting the days till it’s all over.
This week we’ve been chatting among ourselves about the Hallmark Channel’s holiday programming, aided and abetted by this article from slate.com, and this review of A Princess for Christmas (Sam Heughan!) on smartbitchestrashybooks.com. I have to confess that even reading these intelligent and amusing pieces sent me screaming in search of Dorothy Parker, or Saki, or EF Benson.
Our discussion did, however, make me examine why Christmas stories make me froth at the mouth. It’s not intellectual snobbery or political correctness. I love genre romance. I adore fantasy and fairy tales. I seek out happy endings, and I’m a sucker for community. I prefer tales told with intelligence and wit, but while that might rule out some of the more saccharine offerings, it should still leave me open to classics like Michaeline’s suggestion, Christmas in Conneticut. Nope, not even that.
I always thought I read romance for the kindness, the community and the hit of happy. This week I realized there’s another huge reason: many romances (and all the ones I love best) involve defying expectations and resisting peer pressure. Continue reading