Jilly: TMI

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

Jilly: The Big Finish

Do any of your favorite books get wrapped up in a high-risk, high-stakes final standoff?

Michaeline and Elizabeth had opening scenes on their minds this week. I’m at the other end of my WIP. I’m deep in my writer’s cave, trying desperately to polish up the grand finale of Alexis Book 1.

There’s a dramatic setting, mortal jeopardy, the stakes are nosebleed high and there’s no obvious way out. All the major players are present—heroine; hero; scary otherworldly nemesis; powerful scheming old crone and her grandson, the heroine’s jealous, spoiled half-brother.

I’m trying to do the scenes justice, but I’m feeling a little out of my depth. I know what happens, and why. Stuff happens. Tension escalates. Somebody gets hurt. Somebody dies. The death is right for the story and I’m sure I want to make that choice, but I’ve never killed off a character before. This is a new challenge for me and I want to master it.

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Jilly: Birthday bon-bons

Happy Birthday to us, and cheers! to all our friends here on the blog: Eight Ladies Writing celebrated its fourth birthday yesterday, 2 September. Where did the time go?

I thought about selecting my favorite posts of the last four years, but it was just too hard to choose. If you have the time, and you are so inclined, check out our archive. We have a bank of almost 1,400 posts for you to browse and enjoy.

Instead, I decided to hold a traditional birthday celebration today, with champagne, cake, candles, ice cream, and gifts. That is, I picked my favorite fictional moments featuring each of those things 😉 .

If you’d like to join the party by suggesting other festive scenes or books, I’d love that!

Here are my choices:

Champagne
Without question, my favorite champagne-related story is Lord Lovedon’s Duel, a funny, feel-good short story by Loretta Chase. The trouble starts at the heroine’s sister’s wedding, where an excess of champagne leads the eponymous hero to amuse his drunken friends by making cruel and untrue suggestions about the royal groom’s reasons for marrying a wealthy commoner. Unfortunately he is overheard by the bride and her sister, Chloe, the heroine. Chloe is incensed on her sister’s behalf. She’s also more than a little tipsy, so she confronts Lord Lovedon in front of his idiot friends, slaps his face with her glove, dashes a glass of champagne in his face, and challenges him to a duel. Lovedon’s response is as kind and funny as his original remarks were hurtful. There’s a glorious epistolary exchange, culminating in pistols at dusk in Battersea. This story is a clever, perfectly formed hit of happy. I wish I could write something half as good. I love everything about it.

Cake
There’s a spectacular cake-fest Continue reading

Michille: National Novel Writing Month

NaNoI have been recapping things I learned in the McDaniel Romance Writing Certificate Program the last couple of weeks and I’d planned to continue with my course-by-course review, hoping that it would get me back on track with my WIP that is currently stalled like the rain over South Carolina was this past weekend. Unfortunately, it isn’t dumping words on the page as quickly as the front dumped water on SC. So I’m switching gears and looking forward to November and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” It starts on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in that time frame. Continue reading

Michille: Character Arcs

graphic_stonesI talked about the first course in the McD program last week. One assignments in the last class (a McDaniel Romance Writing Workshop) was an analysis of 4-5 characters’ arcs. I’ve used that analysis again since then and found the same thing in other manuscripts that I found in that one. . Some of my characters don’t have arcs. In fixing this, I’ve looked at Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation & Conflict (one of the Justine’s favorite texts) and a post on Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog detailing K.M. Weiland’s 10 Ways Plot Structure Influences Character Arc. Continue reading

Kay: Getting Unstuck

reprinted from St. John Fisher College posting

reprinted from an article posted on the St. John Fisher College web site

I think in another life I must have been a magpie. I like bright and shiny stuff. There’s never too much ribbon on a package, never too many lights on a Christmas tree. If it’s colorful, small, shiny, or lights up, I go there, like a moth to the flame.

I’m at a turning point in my planned trilogy. Book 1 is finished and I’m revising it, writing query letters, and sending it out. I’ve also started book 2, which is not going well, despite my best efforts to get the plot ironed out first. Even so, I can’t seem to find the place where the story should start. So far I’ve torn up three versions of the opening.

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Elizabeth: Back to Basics – A New Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenOkay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been hanging out with new stories.

I know what you’re thinking: “The Traitor is not finished. You’re supposed to be working on the revisions so you can send it out into the world. There are agents waiting!”

You’re right. You’re right. But there are other, new, enticing stories just clamoring for my attention. When I’m in the shower, while I’m driving to work, as I’m cleaning up dead ants – there they are. When I’m in bed, attempting to get to sleep, my brain says “Hey, watch this scene for story xxx. Isn’t it great?” or “Hey, what do you think of this fun bit of dialog?”  Story ideas I had years ago are randomly popping up in Technicolor with surround sound. A little disconcerting, but I’m not complaining.

Working on The Traitor pales by comparison to all of these bright, shiny new ideas, but I know this way madness and an unending string of partially told stories lies.

What’s writer to do? Continue reading