Processing the Process

Last year from January to June I vomited up what, for me, is an ungodly amount of pages, mostly on proposals so, of course, none of them are done. One is still being shopped while two are shelved for the time being.

BUT from July to December I wandered around angsting about not getting any writing done. Yes yes please save the scoldings. The truth is that from July to December the dayjob kicked my ass but somehow I DID manage to get some writing done. I wrote 50 pages on a southern fiction piece and then flipped 100 pages of another proposal from 1st present to 3rd past, and edited the first 120 or so pages on yet a third proposal (the one still out). The second project still needs another round of edits before it goes back to Agent Holly and the first project is probably shelved until later this year because it’s a book I’ll have to finish (new genre for me) to shop.

Now, here’s the kicker: It’s January again and I just vomited up 15 pages yesterday on a brand new bright and shiny (don’t worry Holly, I also cracked the mystery that was chapter 2 on the manuscript I’m editing). I am a firm believer that a) ideas need time to cook and b) no two WRITER’S writing processes are the same. I know I’ve commented/blogged on this before but c) sometime I even forget my process and d) sometimes no two single PROJECTS are written the same way.

All that said, I feel like I’m pretty in tune with my writing process…except I think I’m going to have to add another letter in there…

E) I only write from January to June???

*nodding* it’s definitely a possibility. So what’s my point? Pay attention. ūüėČ

I Feel Bad About My Dan Brown

In case you haven’t heard, in September Dan Brown’s latest book will be released. ¬†FINALLY.

There are, I’m sure, great expectations of success….as well as failure. (and has it really been five years? Lynn M says yes so that’s what I’m going with).

Anyway….I feel bad for Dan Brown. ¬†I know, you probably think I”m nuts for feeling bad for an author who’s achieved such success, but bear with me (and I”m working from memory here…). ¬†He published a couple of books–like what? three? — then followed his editor to a new house with DaVinci Code and published it to all kinds of drama and controversy (yes Catholics I’m looking at U), and Tom Hanks and a pretty darn good movie. We had hardcover, paperback, movie tie-in cover etc etc etc.

Then…he had to go write another book. ¬†How the hell do you follow up on something as huge as The DaVinci Code? I’m sure Mr. Brown was thinking the same thing. ¬†And that’s probably why it took five years for the sequel. ¬†Bless his heart. ¬†For all his success, I’m not sure I’d trade places with him.

Publishing is a funny business–like we didn’t already know that. Optimally, you start a trend rather than join it and Dan Brown did just that–TDC spawned a ton of copycat (and i use that term loosely) books. ¬†But the odds of being the writer who STARTS a trend are … almost inconceivable. I don’t think it’s something writers or even publishers can plan–it just HAPPENS because they can get behind a book and spend hundreds of thousands on publicity and STILL end up with a book that garners only mediocre success. Or worse, tanks.

The pendulum could have just as easily swung the other way for The DaVinci code.  Thoughts?

Hey Fatty Pt Deux – Did You Load the Gun?

First class is here: Hey Fatty

I’ve written all kinds of heroes and heroines with all kinds of quirks. I’ve written about cheating spouses, runaways, fat heroines, drunks, abused men, slaves, revolutionaries, cops, fathers, sons, mothers and daughters, mercenaries, whores, control freaks, and *deep breath* cowgirls just to name a few. And I wish I could take full credit for the following pieces of advice but I can’t. I’m sure you’ve heard them before but I think they bear repeating.

1. Don’t be afraid to hurt your characters. Even in real life pain spawns growth. It should be that way in your book.

2. Every character is the hero of their own story — even the villain (I got that from Deb Dixon).

I don’t know how true this is, but someone once told me that in astrology, your sun sign is the face you show the world, but your moon sign is the real you. We all have a face we show the world–that includes your characters. And as your characters go through the story, they have to show more and more of their true self to the reader. Much like peeling away the layers of an onion, your character has to let the reader in. Let the reader see their hurts, their anger, their scars, so that the reader can cheer for them as they move toward their happy ending.

One of my most favorite ever books — ever — is WISHES by Jude Deveraux which was actually mentioned by someone in the SB blog comments. Firstly, this was the first book I ever read with a fat heroine (and I’m fat). Secondly, nothing that the “guardian angel” did automatically solved the heroine’s problem. Jennifer Armintrout left a comment at SB about people not just being overweight but being overweight IN THEIR MIND (forgive me Jennifer, I’m paraphrasing).

That, my friend, is characterization. The heroine in Wishes IS fat IN her mind as well as in body.

And being overweight is a part of her characterization. Characterization spawns motivation, and dare I say, conflict. Let me give you an example. Continue reading

Hey Fatty

Or Does Your Character Need That Flaw?

I know PBW is doing her left-behind and loving it series this week. If you’re a writer, definitely check it out. I will be.

I’ve been thinking and thinking what I could contribute (ok in all honesty I spent the weekend sloughing off AND thinking) and I really wanted to do something on characterization (and it’s sibling…Motivation). Then I hopped on over to Smart Bitches where there’s this whole discussion on overweight heroines, which really got my juices rolling.

I am not a teacher and I tend to work best through anecdotal stories–and I encourage you to share your own as well. Without further ado, I’m going to spend the week talking about Characterization and Motivation because I believe the two are tied together. For today I’m just giving you an intro and trying to get some discussion going, but we’ll talk about flaws and motivation this week as well.

So welcome to Characterization 101

At it’s heart, characterization is everything that makes up your character even if it doesn’t come into play on the pages of your book: The way they look, their job, their first love, their first kiss, their marital status, their bank account, their placement in the sibling hierarchy, their hopes, dreams and fears, how they think, how they perceive themselves and the world around them, and dozens of other nuances that go into breathing life into them and making them a memorable character.

That said, I have to confess that I watch way too much TV….(I know, big surprise right?) but I realized this weekend that one of the reasons I watch is…you guessed it, earl.png characterization. And the shows and movies I enjoy the most are the ones with great characters–same holds true for books BTW. Think about that for a minute. Think about the stuff you watch, and why. There’s a pop quiz at the end of this post.

One of my current favorites is SAVING GRACE. SG is a show that revolves around a female Oklahoma City detective who drinks too much, smokes like a chimney, nails anything that moves, and has turned her back on God. In the series opener, she’s drunk and she hits a man with her car, and then begs for help. God sends her a guardian angel who is, if nothing else, memorable as hell (pardon the pun)! That’s Earl. Over there on the right. Does he look like a guardian angel? Heeh!

Let’s get back to Grace…she is de-liciously flawed. And I do mean flawed! All of her vices make her interesting, but more than that, I think it’s the tiny things that keep her from crossing the point of no return that really truly count. Hear me out!

Continue reading

Where Did That Come From?

I know I posted about Loving Nailed…and I thought I’d dig a little deeper and give y’all a bit more behind the scenes. I don’t even remember exactly WHERE I got the idea from, but I remember playing with a lot of scenarios for my heroine Julie Burt–everything from child of deceased movie stars to woman on the run…which is what I eventually ended up with. In order for her to be on the run though, I had to have a good reason. Enter a pharmaceutical company that had a secret they wanted buried. The one element I KNEW I had to include was a cat named Clyde in honor of our old friend who used to come visit (RIP CLYDE). In the book, Clyde is completely PSYCHO except for when Wynn (my lovely hero) is around.

Clyde Loves Wynn.

And honestly, what’s not to love about a 6’5 enforcer? Really, Wynn’s quiet adept at getting information out of people. Sadly for Wynn he’s the bane of his father’s existence.

Why you ask?
Continue reading