Friday, December 13, 2013

Writing Illusions

This started in my tiny little brain early this week when I was with some wonderful writing buddies of mine.  We were discussing different aspects of writing and that it really is about impressions.  Or as I started thinking about it- illusions of real life.

When we all started out as writers, I’m sure we all did the same thing- describe the hell out of EVERYTHING.   What people looked like down to the smallest details, places, houses, kitchens, closets, stores…yeah, you name it, I can promise it has been described to death by thousands of writers.

We do it because, especially when we’re just starting, we’re trying to make it real for the reader—to do that we need to make them see it, right? Every last button, lace, design on the dagger?

Ummm- no.

Good writing has a trick to it—it implies real life, it gives the illusion of real life, but it’s not real life.  Use dialogue as an example.  We may eavesdrop on folks to pick up on things, but you’d never use “real” conversation in a book (and if you are, stop it. Please. ) .  In real conversation people are repetitive, they use fillers (um, ah, etc) they talk over each other, hop subjects, are boring, and a whole lot more.

So, we don’t write like people speak-- we write what feels like how people speak.  Our dialogue needs to give the illusion of real conversation, but in a much tighter and structured form. 

The same thing with description.  A laundry list filled with tiny details might make for a happy writer in some cases, but it’s not going to make for a happy reader.  As writers we have to give an impression of our characters, their homes, their lives.  Give enough detail to anchor the reader a bit, then let the reader’s imagination do the heavy lifting- let THEM determine what everything looks like.

I had a friend ask how I pronounced one of my character’s names once.  I shrugged and told her.  She frowned and said she thought it was something else.  To which I said, “Yep, you’re right too”.  I know how my characters look, sound, move, react.  It’s in my head all the time.  But once a reader meets them, those characters are theirs now as well.  If they build that character based on your words and their own imagination, that character becomes far more real to them than if the writer forced a list of descriptives down their throat.

Heavy lists of what things look like actually slow down the reader as they try to pull the very detailed image together.  It slows them down and pulls them out of your story.  A death sentence for any book.

I’ve come across books that gave me no classic descriptives of a character at all.  No eye color, hair color, skin color, height, weight, nothing.

And I can promise you I KNEW what that character looked like just from the writer’s other words.  Now, did my character look like what the writer was thinking?  Maybe, maybe not.  But what’s important was that I as the reader saw the character. I didn't see the writer telling me about the character.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG- Chasing the mojo

Yes, it's that time again- the once a month blog hop that crosses the world in which writers yell into the void.

Today it's more about doing what's healthy.  Or rather NOT doing what's healthy, rewarding, and even sometimes fun.

This thought can be applied to exercising, blogging, and writing (insert your own, "really should do it, feel better when I do" item here).

I'll be honest, I don't like to work out.  It's a hassle, icky, tiring.  What I like is having had WORKED out. I know I need to and it feels great after I do it.  Sometimes even while I'm doing it.  Yet getting me to DO it is always a fight.

I'm realizing the same thing is happening with my writing.  I love having written. Now, don't get me wrong, there are those times where you hit a sweet spot and writing itself is an amazing high.  But for the most part, I really prefer editing, fixing, slicing and dicing, to the actual nitty gritty of writing.

I'm thinking this mindset could be why my writing mojo keeps wandering off like some demented little gnome lost in a mall.  I'm not giving it the right motivation.

It doesn't want to write, it wants to have written.  So, if I can explain to it's sugar addled mind that if it gets my butt in the chair, it'll have more words to play with later--instead of trying to convince it it really does like blank pages--I might get it to work!

So that's my plan going forth.  What about you?  How is your writing (or anything that you should do/even like to do--but don't always do it)?

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG-Fear of Losing the Love of Writing

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Wednesday
Happy IWSG day!   Yes, the once a month “howl our fears at the moon” day for writers from across the globe.
Today my insecurity stems from a fear that the soul-sucking nature of our business will permanently drag me down. Let me get one thing clear—I LOVE to write.  When left to my own happy little devices I am a purring writer clam.
But I am also a writer who wants her work read someday.  Read by more than just a handful of folks. Which means dealing with the business end of things.
I have four books that are ready, able, and willing to go play in the outside world.  And a few forays have been made—lots of interest, but no one who LOVES them the way I do (and to be honest the way an editor or agent needs to). I’ll get nibbles-even big nibbles—then they don’t work out.  And it sucks a little bit of my soul out. For those of you who are Princess Bride fans, it’s like that damn Albino is working on me with that machine.
After a few such “almost there- so damn close’s” I start to slide into a funk.  And I can’t work on any of my work because the editor side of my brain starts judging everything at that point.
I know that I am a good writer and I know that “playing the game” is part of it—even if one goes for Indie Pub instead of New York.  But I just can’t seem to get my heart and psyche to agree it comes with the business.  

So that’s my fear for this month—that the business of publishing will kill my joy of writing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today's post is sort of related to the previous one in that it deals with things not happening in a book that really should be happening.

Lack of  "action".

Now, I'm not talking about things not happening in the book--in fact sometimes books with too much action fall into this trouble group.  I'm talking about ones with no real inciting incident. Hmmmm...even that doesn't really cover it.

The "lack of a start of action" books.  Now, I see you all shaking your heads, wondering what the heck I'm talking about and if a few too many brain cells have gone MIA on me lately.  But stick with me.

I've recently read/been reading two books by the same author in a series I like. On both I found myself almost a hundred pages in and never had that feeling of "cue the start of all hell breaking loose" here.

The book just rolled into a disaster, then another, then another. Even though I do like this author, and she does this all the time, it's annoying. And when I find something annoying as a reader, I pretty much figure out it's something to look out for as a writer ;).

1)  I like having a bit of a set up.  Even in books that start in full action and/or ones that are an ongoing series where most readers already know the characters and the world.(step back after the bomb goes off and get the reader nestled nicely into the world before the next disaster).  I like to get into the world before the characters go out trying to save it ;).

2) A subtle demarcation of  "oh shit- this is going to be bad" at the start of the disaster arc.  I don't need to be bashed over the head with it, but I (as the reader) want to see the line in the sand, the no going back, the we are sooooo screwed moment. In the case of this author (and she is not alone by any means) there just seemed to be a running from one problem to the next, no "start" and no increasing of the problems.  If you were to draw the plot arc these books would be dead--as in a flat line.

I usually come across these books in either Urban Fantasy and or Fantasy series.  Now not all authors with series books do this, but it does seem that when I find it it is either a fantasy or urban fantasy series.

So folks- watch it.  Don't just throw a bunch of events at your reader, start slowly (remember your introductory paragraph when you learned to write an essay? ;)), build to the start of the action, and keep that action ramping UP.  Your readers will thank you.

Thanks for coming by!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

People change

I just got back from a two week trip to England, Wales, and Ireland.  It was wonderful and exhausting.  And impacted my way of thinking.  Not hugely mind you, it wasn't a strange planet I went to after all-- but it did change my own personal world view.  It's not something major, but just another bit of fluff that modifies how I react to the world.

Any trip can have an impact on someone...a four day writer's conference, a family reunion, a two week trip to England.  Yet some authors forget this.  Especially in genre fiction, there is usually a heck of a lot of "things" going on- MAJOR things far bigger than a "trip across the pond".  And yet ofttimes there is little to no change in the protagonist's view. They still think the same, react the same, etc.

One of the reasons I loved the tv show Farscape (and there are many many reasons- go watch it!) was the way the main character, John, changed because of what happened to him. As the series progressed his world view changed, his reactions changed- and we saw it.

The same has to happen with your characters.  The reader has to see that whatever has happened to them- is changing who they are.  Even in third person the reader gets a feel for the character's head...and that head shouldn't be the same at the end of the book as it was in the beginning...or the middle.

A few photos of the trip- what would change your character?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: Rachael Davila- SWAG!

Welcome my guest Blogger- Rachael Davila

Thanks for having me, Marie! I've never blogged before. I'm excited to debut on your blog!

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Rachael. Unlike most stereotypical writers, I'm totally an extrovert. Like a golden retriever in person- "Hi there! Hi!" You can almost see my tail wagging.  But I am able to channel that exuberance into topics I'm passionate about, like writing, being a virtual assistant, email marketing and promotional products.

Promotional Products is the topic I want to talk with you about today.  You know articles of merchandise (often branded with a logo) used in marketing and communication programs. They are given away to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event. These items are usually imprinted with a company's name, logo or slogan, and given away at trade shows, conferences, and as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns.

I've been in the industry my whole life. In fact one of my favorite memories is going to the ASI Show in Chicago's McCormick Place.  In all my eleven years, I'd never seen anything like it.  Rows upon rows of booths as far as my eyes could see. My dad handed me a bag and told me not to come back until it was full. I didn't make it past the first aisle.  By the end of the day, I'd collected eight boxes of tchotchkes--pens, pencils, squeeze balls, and tons more.  My love for branded items was born.

Fast forward twenty plus years later and I still love those giveaways.  Only now I've made a business out of it.  I use my experience to work with clients to find the right promotional item for their business goals. Not only do I get to do the work I love, but I get to help people too.  Perfect career? I THINK SO!
Starting Monday, October 28th, I'm teaching a two week online workshop for writers to introduce them to promotional products and imprinted items. From book launches to convention giveaways, Authors use promotional products all the time.  But is that the best way to market YOU?
Promotional Products can be a great addition to any marketing plan from business cards to embroidered apparel. 

In my workshop, The 5W's of SWAG, we'll discuss what factors to look at when deciding what promotional items to add to your marketing budget.  And answer the questions...

*WHAT is SWAG?  
*WHO is best served using them?
*WHERE to look for them?
*WHEN is the right time to use promotional products?
*WHY use a promotional product at all?

While the workshop is geared towards writers, any business person can take the class, especially one who has a marketing plan and is thinking of adding promotional items to it. I hope you'll join me. Workshop details will be on, under Workshops.

Thanks again for having me on your blog, Marie!

Rachael Davila has been in the Promotional Products industry since birth and a Romance writer for almost two years. She is combining her love of both to help her fellow Authors brave the world of imprinted items! From business cards to convention giveaways, Rachael can help! You can find her online via twitter @RachaelDavila or her website:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Guest Blogger- Georgie Lee!

Today please welcome guest blogger and author extroninare- Georgie Lee!

I've always enjoyed classical mythology. The archetypes speak to me as they have to millions of people throughout the centuries. Edith Hamilton and her book Mythology, was my first introduction into the classic stories of man verses god and sometimes himself. In college, I discovered Joseph Campbell and how mythic images are still with us today.


If you aren't familiar with Joseph Campbell's work and want a quick introduction, then I'd recommend Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion edited by Diane K. Osborn. It is a beautifully compiled series of his lectures and thoughts on mythic subjects and how they still influence and inspire us. It also provides a good introduction into the concept of the hero’s journey and examples of its continued use in modern novels and movies.


In regards writing and how mythic imagery still influences storytellers, my two favorite books are The Writer’s Journey and The Artist’s Way.


The Writer's Journey was one of the first writing books that I read. Myths and mythic images have always helped inspire my stories and characters, and the idea of crafting a story along the lines of the hero's journey appeals to me. The plotting techniques are great for helping me create both simple and complex stories and characters that appeal to a wide range of people.


Another writing book that appeals to my mythological side is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. The book offers some great writing techniques for inspiring the muse. Her method of daily journaling helps keep writer's block at bay.


I’m always on the lookout for great new books on the art and craft of writing. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions for books dealing with the hero’s journey and using it to plot and write. Also, please check out Engagement of Convenience, my Harlequin Historical debut and see if you can spot an archetype or two.

Engagement of Convenience by Georgie Lee
Julia Howard longs for the freedom her inheritance will bring her—but with her controlling brother holding the purse strings, she's going to need a most convenient engagement… An encounter in the woods with a dashing stranger couldn't be more timely. 

Wounded, his life at sea at an end, Captain James Covington isn't prepared for the dull ache of civilian life. He sees in Julia a fellow adventurous spirit—willing to risk all. Could agreeing to her outrageous proposal help him recapture a reason to live as they face the biggest adventure of all—marriage?
Buy Links
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Hero’s Redemption, a Regency novella, is now available from Carina Press.  
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit for more information about Georgie and her novels.
Social Media Links
Twitter: @GeorgieLeeBooks

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG- Yes, your writing DOES suck


Today we welcome you once again to another issue of the monthly rail against the Universe known as Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday!

For today’s episode a cold, hard, truth will be revealed—

Your writing sucks.

MY writing sucks.

Every single book, manuscript, oddly jotted down bit of mis-matched Haiku—sucks.

Now the caveat is- it sucks to someone.

I can promise that even the highest grossing, made-the-author-insanely-rich, best sellers have someone (probably many someones) who would fling their book across the room in disgust.

Does this mean the book sucks? To them—yeah. Major suckage of the epic scale. That we should all give up trying to be story tellers?  Probably not. (I’ll get to the probably in a minute).

Every once in a while an author hears something bad about their work. (Stop laughing- yeah, it happens more than every once in a while, if not, then you’ve got your work sitting in a trunk somewhere under a large heavy piece of work-out equipment ;)).  But I digress.  When said author gets this bad news the first thought is, “OMG!  I can’t write!  I need to go hide my head in shame!” (Been there done that.).

But the fact is, that is simply an opinion.  Now yes, if EVERYONE says the exact same thing, like your heroine is too stupid to live past page three because she’s already walked into a house with an ax murderer- by choice- twice in two pages—then you should probably listen to them.

Other comments should be examined, tossed around, allowed to breathe like a fine wine—THEN looked at to determine the validity for your story.  There will always be folks who don’t like what you write—decide if they comments are from that, or because of a true weakness.  But no matter what you do, your work will suck to someone.

Now back to the whole “stop telling stories” issue.  I say ‘probably not’ because if you are a sensitive soul who can’t rebound (often with lots of chocolate and or alcohol) from the people who think your work sucks, then maybe you should walk away now. Even my published VERY published friends get folks who think they suck—it comes with this job. If you want to still keep writing and showing your work- you’re going to find some haters.  Eat the chocolate, cry, and move on.


Thanks for coming by- please share your tales of suckage recovery!


·         OH- I’ll be out of the country starting Sunday so I have some wonderful guest bloggers the next two weeks.  Please make sure to stop by and make them feel welcome J.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Agents are...PEOPLE!

Ok, while not having the same impact as say, "Solent Green is PEOPLE!" the realization that the movers and shakers in the publishing world are in fact human can be a bit of a shock to many writers.

Writing is a primarily isolated sport, even those of us with writing compadres and wonderful writing groups find ourselves living in a solitary world during most of our writing process. And for the most part our exposure to folks like agents and editors is limited to the Internet.

But when we break out of that solitary life and do something adventuresome (see last week's blog about conferences if you've already forgotten ;)) we find out that they are real people!

Yes, agents and even editors (I know, these shocks just keep coming!) are real people with real lives beyond the publishing world.  And guess what--they aren't even consumed with trying to stop writers from getting published.

Believe it or not, agents and editors want writers to get published.  No writers = no agent/editor jobs. What they want (the good ones anyway- and I met some very good ones this past week-end *points again to last week's blog*) is to find publishable work.  Now to be fair, they can't go and critique every submission that comes their way--they'd never have time to make a living for one thing.  BUT when you go to a writer's conference, they are there IN PERSON to help writers!

You heard me, real agents and editors taking time out of their full lives to come help writers.  Now, hopefully they are helping themselves as well by finding some new writers to work with.  But they are also there working with writers, talking to writers, drinking with writers (ok, different story).

And we as writers get to see them.  In person.  As real people.

It's easy for us to forget that, and think of them as gatekeepers to our dreams.  But they are more and less than that.  They aren't all powerful, nor all knowing.  They are people.  With a job they love.  Who happen to be looking for folks like us.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Conferences- the good, the bad, and the ugly

Tomorrow I'll be flying off to Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference.

I've been to a number of conferences over the years: SDSU Writers Conference, La Jolla Writers Conference, Southern California Writers Conference, Santa Barbara Writers Conference, and Romantic Times (writing panels and male cover models- hard to go wrong there ;)).

But I've never been to this one. I'm excited, nervous, and even more excited ;).

Some of the conferences I've been to have been wonderful, some, not as much, but I still think of all of them as a positive thing and I think all writers should try to go to as many as feasible.  

Why, you ask?

First off- you are surrounded by people who understand your strange addiction. Writers, agents, editors-- all understand the weirdness that goes on in most writer's psyches.  That energy can't be duplicated.  Even if the panels aren't what you hoped (sadly,not as uncommon as one would like) you still get a "contact high" from being surrounded by the writing world.

Second- chances are very good you'll learn something you didn't know.  Even the most advanced novelist can pick up something--IF they stay open to it.  I've seen the "too good for this crowd" attendees at almost every conference and I wonder--why are they even there?  You never know when a tidbit, hint, comment will strike you and you'll have a precious "aha!" moment. Go in with an open mind and reap the benefits ;).

Third- exposure to the movers and shakers.  Even the smaller conferences will have some published authors (some have VERY big names), editors, and agents. Being around these people, going to panels, pitches, and critiques is something you can't get anywhere except a conference.

Ok, so I've listed some very good reasons to go-but what about you all?  What conferences have you been to?  What are some of your experiences?  (Both good and bad).  If you have tips for anyone who has never been to one of these- what would you say?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guest Blogger: Dawn Marie Hamilton

Today I'd like to welcome back a returning guest blogger- Dawn Marie Hamilton.  She's got a new book out and wants to tell you about it and a bit about the faerie folk ;) (and, if you read all the way down--she might even give you a copy!)

Welcome, Dawn Marie!

Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon, a Highland Gardens novel, Bk 2:

What happens when a twenty-first century business executive is expected to fulfill a prophecy given at the birth of a sixteenth-century seer? Of course, he must raise his sword in her defense.

Believing women only want him for his wealth, Finn MacIntyre doesn't trust any woman to love him. When, during Scottish Highland games, faerie magic sends him back in time to avenge the brutal abduction of his time-traveling cousin, he learns he's the subject of a fae prophecy.

Elspeth MacLachlan, the beloved clan seer, is betrothed to a man she dislikes and dreams of the man prophesized at her birth, only to find him in the most unexpected place—face down in the mud.

With the help of fae allies, they must overcome the treachery set to destroy them to claim a love that transcends time.

Available from Amazon for Kindle:
Available from Barnes & Noble for Nook:

The Highland Gardens romance series is rife with faerie folk from the Tuatha Dé Danann. Why does a Scottish historical time travel series have characters originating from Irish tradition?

Historically there was much movement, to and from, of Gaelic peoples between Ireland and Scotland. With them traveled their beliefs and perhaps their faeries.

So who were the Tuatha? Legend defines them as a divine race descended from the mother goddess Dana (Danu) and besieged upon by mortals known as the Milesians. Casualties amongst the Tribe of Dana were great. The mortals struck a bargain with tribe leaders whereas they would live on the land above ground while those defeated lived below ground within the earth or retreated to Tir-nan-Óg—land o’ heart’s desire.

In Ireland the faeries became known as the sidhe and in Scotland the sìthichean.

According to Scottish Fairy Belief by Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan, “Stories of the Tribe of Danu circulated in Scotland from at least the sixteenth century and doubtlessly long before. Bishop Carswell identified the fairies as the Tuatha Dé Danann in the introduction to his Gaelic Prayer Book of 1567.”

In Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon, Caitrina, a banished halfling faerie princess needs a special lichen to heal the hero, Finn...

Caitrina risked all, allowing Douglas to see her use her power. She counted on the fact that he was in love with her, hoping his feelings for her were strong enough to keep him from spreading the tale. She’d deal with the consequences after she saved Finn.

She snipped a tiny piece of the lichen and in her heart heard the plant cry out in pain.

“I beseech the great Goddess Dana, mother of this earth, to lend your power to mine,” she implored. “Stimulate this lean soil and renew verdant growth. This I beg of thee as your conduit.”

Caitrina raised her arms and used the power flowing through her to take the hurt away and begin the regeneration.

Like a plant in a time-lapse film, the diminutive lichen grew fresh, healthy tissue replacing the small piece she’d removed. Within moments, the reindeer moss sang.

When Caitrina ventured a look at Douglas, he stood with his arms crossed over his chest, a wide smile on his very kissable lips. “What?” She shook her head unable to believe her vision.

“We make progress, I think.” He reached out his hand. “Come. It will be dark soon.”

“I’m sorry,” she said and vanished.

 About the Author:

Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a 2013 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories. She is a member of The Golden Network, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Celtic Hearts, and From the Heart chapters of RWA. When not writing, she’s cooking, gardening, or paddling the local creeks with her husband.


Giveaway: Dawn Marie will gift a Kindle edition of Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon to a lucky commenter who answers the question: If you could use a bit of faerie magic to travel through time where would you go? Be sure to include your email addy. Feeling shy? Email Dawn Marie at Dawn at DawnMarieHamilton dot com. A name will be pulled out of the garden hat on Friday, September 13.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG : Is this just a waste of time?



Ah, it’s that time of month again!  When writers of all stripes and backgrounds join forces to scream our fears into the night and hope to be shown that we’re wrong.


Welcome to Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday!


Today I’d like to share a fear that probably has lurked in 99% of writer’s hearts—that we’re just wasting our time.

This fear can strike at any time and at any writing level.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new writer or been at this for years with 20 books under your belt.

The horrifying thought that this is all a waste of time can hit anyone.

It often hits me when I’m feeling depressed (go figure) and the whole world sucks. The suckage may not even be related to writing, but that Universal Suck Monster pulls it in anyway. I begin to question why I’m doing this.  Why I spend hours out of an already time crunched week to scribble down stories. Why I spend more hours editing and revising said same stories.

It also hits me when I find a favorite author who hasn’t had a book out in years.  I wonder what happened to them? They had a few books make it (against great odds) then….nothing.

I know what happened to some—their publishing house pulled the plug even against decent sales.  So was their work a waste of time?

Even though this nasty worry hits me way more often than it should- I think I’d have to answer NO—it’s not a waste of time (of in my dark moments, a different answer might fit ;)).  I can’t seriously imagine a life with no writing in it.  I just need to find a way to make the dark voices shut up.

Come and share YOUR greatest writing fear!



Thursday, August 22, 2013

When to walk away

Just a short blog today about knowing when to walk away.  No, I'm not talking about walking away from writing--like many of you out there I am so screwed up there's no way I could even if I wanted to (which, trust me, at times I do ;)).  Alas, I'm addicted and they haven't invented a patch yet for us.  So, this isn't about that.

It's about our characters.  Why do they do what they do?  Why don't they just walk away? Sadly, I seem to be finding a number of books where the motivation isn't there.  The WRITER wanted the character to do or act or say something.  To not give up the quest.  So the WRITER made the character do it.

And lemme tell you, when I read books like that the word WRITER is in all caps.  And sort of glows.  I'm annoyed when that happens.  I read to lose myself in a character's world.  Not see the writer behind the screen.

When characters do something, especially something painful, embarrassing, stupid, or dangerous it needs to be clear what is motivating them.  It needs to be logical.  And there really needs to be no other option (this holds true even if it is an internal motivation- aka an over active sense of justice for example).  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: Fear of Success

Happy IWSG Wednesday!!

For those of you who don't know- IWSG stands for Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Once a month, writers from all over shout their fears into the cyber void and hope for a little hand holding or at least a cup of tea in support.

Today I'm talking about one that I don't really have and don't really understand: fear of success. Now my educational background is psychology, so I understand it, it just isn't one of my many afflictions ;).

Fear of success often refers to a state of anxiety that can overwhelm a person just on the cusp of realizing their dreams.  They may appear to self-sabotage (or actually do it).  This can happen for a number of reasons including being found out to be a fraud, fear of loss of privacy, fear of the "other shoe dropping" (and bad things happening).

I think for me, my fear of failure is so overwhelming that the fear of success gets squished.  I will admit, the other shoe issue does pop up in my head when things go right sometimes.And I can see a loss of control if the success is defined as having a writing contract with a traditional publisher.  The author really losses control over what they write once they have a contract.  Plus, no control over when the book comes out, the title, or the cover.

But I don't know if that fear of loss of control is really a real fear for me and not sure if that counts as fear of success.  

So which are you- fear of success or fear of failure or a combo of the two?  How does it impact your writing?

Have a great IWSG Day and thanks for coming by!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The context of context

You know your characters.  Or, if you’re more of a pantster you will know your characters. They know who they are; they are the geek, or the brain, or the jock (broad strokes here folks).  But what happens when they are taken out of their normal environment?  A person may be the brain until she’s suddenly surrounded by a group from Mensa.  What affect would that have on who she is? On who she thinks she is?

We all have our sense of who we are.  This is directly related to the social group we are in and can fluctuate based on the grouping.  We might be the popular one with our nerd friends, the geeky one with our mundane friends, etc.  The same is true for our characters.

This all came to me at Comic Con last week.  I’m a geek.  A serious geek.  But I was sooooo out geeked by many folks it wasn’t even funny. But at the same time it was GREAT to be around my kind.  Folks who understand fandom, who understand all the cool geekiness that is Comic Con.  To not get “those” looks when I talk about my stuff.  It did change my sense of geeky self.

As writers, we need to do the same thing to our characters.  A story is based on what changed in our character’s life and how they took care of it, or completely re-vamped their life. We’re taking them out of their normal context, and setting them in a new one. 

So what about your characters?  How is their sense of self changed by the circumstance you put them in?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Variety is the spice of writing

It’s that time of year again- CONVENTION TIME!  Ok, yes, I know conventions and conferences happen year around, but my favorite big bad pile of insanity and creative energy is this week- aka Comic Con International, San Diego.  Also known as the giant monster convention to end all giant monster conventions.
Being an uber geek I’ll be attending Comic Con again this year (year 22 for me ;)).  Now even though the focus at this convention isn’t only about writing, it does have a growing number of writers, editors, agents, and publishers there.  Not to mention the extreme burst of creative mojo that slams into you when you first go in and surrounds you until you leave for good on Sunday.
The thing is this creative mojo doesn’t just come from all the folks in the book industry, but from the insanely huge amount of talented creative folks.  Art, collectables, film, TV, music, everything of a creative bent is there in some form.  And I just enjoy it all.
There are many recommendations for writers to go to writer’s conferences—and I totally agree.  There is a narrow focus that just helps get the writer brain moving at these. Things like RWA Nationals and dozens of smaller local writers conferences should be sought out- regardless of what you write.
Good writing is good writing—regardless of genre.
But I think folks should be exposed to as many different types of writing and creativity as possible.  In most cases, books are not JUST one genre.  Think about it.  I write SF/F with romantic elements- but in my books there’s almost always a mystery component (many times with a dead body or two).   By being around folks who write in other genres I’m able to steal…er borrow…their mojo.  Pick up tips that will make my writing stronger and the stories more interesting. 
Same with a huge general convention like Comic Con.  I don’t want to write screenplays, but hearing about them (or some wicked cool game designs) can influence my writing.
As writers we have to pull in as much variety as we can, to keep our work lively, interesting, and constantly moving forward.  If we just focus on our specific little niche of creativity, we’re shutting ourselves off from a ton of influences that could only make us better.

So look around—find a convention or conference to go to- then find a few more.  But make sure you have variety in your choices.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG-Fear of dropping the balls

Welcome all to another episode of the Insecure Writers Support Group where writers from across the land join forces once a month to shout our fears into the abyss.

Today my fear is dropping the balls. Or losing them. Or forgetting which one went where. Now these aren’t just any type of balls, these are really plot points and red herrings from my current WIP. I call them balls because recently I’ve begun to hear circus music and feel like one of those clowns juggling a million balls and all are about to crash down.

I look at each book as a chance to learn something new—hopefully some day they will entertain the masses, but right now they entertain, and educate, me.

THE GIRL WITH THE IRON WING is something new for me. It’s an Urban Fantasy, except the world as we know it changed about the time of the Black Death. Unlike our timeline, humanity was on track to vanish from the planet completely. Until the elves saved us. And they haven’t really let the humans forget that. And some of them think saving us was a massive mistake.

This book has a bit police mystery as well as romance going on. And it’s lead to A LOT of balls up in the air for me. Now, you plotters are reading this with probably a bit of confusion—“What do you mean you can’t keep all of your twists and turns together? That’s what plots are for.”

Yeah, welcome to the joy and pain of pantsing (writing by the seat of one’s pants for folks not familiar with the term). The joy of panting is that you don’t know what’s coming around the corner. As Ray Bradbury would say let the characters go, and follow their footsteps. Sadly, that’s also the pain of pantsing…I don’t know a lot of what’s coming around the corner. Which makes it hard to make sure all my points, traps, twists, and dead-ends end up staying in the story. Aka, keeping all the balls in the air.

I’m fighting the good fight- at 100 pages I’ve started a spread sheet for them. But I’m still totally dreading the moment that a reader may say, “But what happened too…?”

Hmmm- that circus music in my head seems to be getting louder.

What about you? Ever afraid the balls will drop?

Happy IWSG Day!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Channeling your inner character

Some folks say our characters come from within us. That every person we write has at least a tiny part of us in them.

I’m not sure about that, but since it’s damn near impossible to pry open an author’s head and see exactly all of the thought processes, influences, memories that go into making a character—I’ll let that ride.

But now I’m facing the flip side of that. Using my own characters to help myself get through some rough spots.

Our house was recently robbed—again. This is twice in one year. Both times it was a quick hit, they grabbed small electronics and fled. Both times they took advantage of a small window of time where no one was home in the middle of the day.

This time they even walked out the front door.

I was freaked.

Ok, not as much as the first time (once the initial fear, panic, anger settled down), but still freaked. But the first time I had serious anxiety issues for a few months. As in “don’t wanna leave the house” issues.

The night after the break in, I had a long talk with myself. I realized I could let the bastard (s) who did this make my life even more miserable for a few months—or I could mentally fight back.

As I was thinking about this, I thought of my characters. I write space opera, steampunk, assorted fantasy types, even geek romance—but all of my heroines are tough. Not all the same, probably the most dangerous one I’ve created so far (unbeknown to her even) is very unassuming.

But they are all resilient.

They get screwed up…a lot. But they bounce back. They don’t let things stop them (ok, eventually in some cases ;)).

So, thinking of these figments of my imagination, I started making myself more resilient. I looked at what my options were to fix the problem (alarm and outside cameras) but also looked inside to move past it.

This just happened a few days ago, but I’m doing ok. I still want to bash the thieves heads in with a baseball bat (I do have some rather violent heroines) but I’m going to be ok. Living in fear is pointless.

My characters, which may or may not be made up of parts of who I am (or as I think, who I want to be ;)) helped me regain my sense of self.

What about you? Your characters ever reach out from beyond the page and help you?