For The Love Of All That’s Writing

Let’s face it, sometimes writing becomes a chore. We get stuck on a scene, a chapter, a plot hole and we throw our proverbial pen across the room, shouting “why do I even bother?”… or something less tasteful if you’re like me. I could make a sailor blush.

There is a moment (or a thousand) for all of us whether it’s draft one or wading through the river of shit that is editing  (I really hate editing) where we wonder why we are even in this relationship. images (14)

Because writing is a relationship. We all remember when we fell in love, wistfully dreaming of that rush  we got. Those sentences we read back to ourselves  and think, “Holy balls, I’m a genius”. Or maybe you just get goosebumps- whatever. I’ve been so high on writing endorphins that I was like, “move over Ernie, Harper, and George, there’s a new sheriff in town.”

But the honeymoon phase 27af4841b873d951ec650a3aef9baedc ends, as they are wont to do, and you realize this relationship is gonna take a little work. The work isn’t necessarily bad, it’s good- real  good sometimes. Ideas whispering sweet nothings in your ear at night, plot holes resolving themselves before your eyes, hell, sometimes even your grammar is pretty damn good on the first try. It’s not always easy, your writing needs your attention, your dedication, and it’s easy to neglect it. It’s not always easy, this relationship, but you’re in it to win it.

Then one day, maybe gradually or out of the blue, you’re staring at pages of red slashes or a blank screen and you think “how did we get here?” You feel resentment, pressure, even suffocated. You might even want out.

It’s okay.

Take a step back. This is a long term commitment. Sometimes you have to fall back in love.

Maybe you need a date night with a short story, or a night away from from your writing entirely. Maybe you need to go back to the beginning. Perhaps you just need a night with another book (I won’t tell).

Whatever it takes, for the love of all that’s writing, don’t give up.

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Emily is a wannabe writer. She’s trying to finish a novel. Just one would do at this point. Connect with her, oh, and read her blog!

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Is Chronological All That Logical?

One does not simplyI’m no stranger to using dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations, and dialogue to divulge a character’s past. Let’s face it, we all know we don’t start at the beginning, that’s yesterday’s advice. We all know Timmy was born on a chilly spring morning in 1983 isn’t where it’s at. Was there a storm? Was Timmy born on a ship in the middle of the ocean? No? Who cares?

Today, we drop our characters in the action: a pivotal moment in their lives, or hell, into a fight. We drop our characters in the middle of the ocean on a stormy night and let them find their way home.

Lately I’ve been thinking about chronological order. In fact, in my current WIP (work in progress) I’ve been trying what I call Tarantino style where I shoosh back and forth through my character’s life like I’m a fucking Time Lord. images

Call me crazy, but maybe this is where it’s at. I mean, who’s to say what the pivotal moment in a character’s life is and when it has significance? We’ve all seen the book or movie that started at the end, and then took us back to the beginning. What I’m talking about is multiplying that by ten.

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not throwing in flashbacks like some hack wizard. I’m legit Time Lord-ing here. For instance, my character is a solider and the very first scene is him landing in the good ole US of A after ten months in Afghanistan. The whole first chapter is about his initial adjustments with civilian life and the aftermath of what has happened while he’s been away. Chapter Two shoots forward a year, showing just how much being a soldier has changed his family dynamics. Chapter Three swings back to before he ever joined the military. Chapter Four is in Afghanistan.

You get the gist. Each chapter is a totally different facet of his life. Each chapter: The Veteran, The Son, The Boy, The Soldier, etc, is meant to all represent his own fragmented sense of self.

At first this seemed confusing, but the more I went with it, the more it made sense. There is no way to portray each of these pieces in order with the same effect. The more I ripped through time like some sort of maniac with a time portal, the more I wondered… is chronological all that logical after all?

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Let’s face it, it’s your story. You’re the wizard, you’re the time lord, you’re the boy with the magnifying glass scattering the orderly little ants into chaos. Go wherever your pen (*cough* keyboard, iPad, voice recorder) takes you. Whatever we were taught about order, screw it. You’re the person who knows when and how to reveal what’s going on. And trust me, there’s a kind of powerful feeling about throwing some of the rules right out the window.

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Emily is currently writing for fun, although she has published a few short stories. She is trying to focus on finishing a novel this year, hopefully her fairy tale. Connect with her and/or read her amateur blog!

And for all my wonderful fellow WWLR-ers:images (13)

Guest Blog: Happy to Help a Friend

When DL asked for a guest blogger, I jumped up, waving my hand, metaphorically.

Me! Pick me!

Why?

Because of Romance, and supporting other writers.  I always lend a hand to my friends who write romance and erotica. And I have more than a few who do.

For one thing, they get worse questions than Urban Fantastists. People may ask me where I come up with my monsters, but I don’t get the ‘whys’.

Why do you write about sex?

Why do you write about romance?

I always want some of them to say, why the hell not?

My pride in my friend’s work aside, I’m not sure why writing romance is a bad thing. I do it. Sure, my sex scenes fade to black, and more than once Mina has put her burning sexual tension on hold to kill a vampire or two, but I know damn good and well that Mina and Rick’s relationship drama is just as important as how she snaps a spine.

More so, in some ways.

We action writers of supernatural occurrences need romance in our stories. They keep the characters relatable and grounded. You might not get why Mina has to kill a monster, but you definitely get why she wants to jump Rick.

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She’s very… lonely

Love and how people fall in love is universal, as opposed to blood lust. Most of us going about our normal day feeling no desire to behead the people threatening us.

Or staking them… whatever…

But falling in love? Having a crush? Drooling over a hottie? Even if you haven’t experienced it, romance transcends genre. Everybody knows the physical symptoms. You can’t catch your breath, racing heart, nervous energy, and dilated pupils.

We love to fall in love. And we like watching other people as well. So while Romance isn’t something I write often (because, like any genre fiction, it’s damned hard to do well), I have nothing but respect for those that do.

I don’t mind getting on their blog and gushing about how wonderful they are. Because they are wonderful, amazing authors, who work damn hard.

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Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of Pennsylvania. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids and cats as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters.

She has a newsletter now, too!

You Have to Eat It to Find Out if You LIke It.

Writers fall in love with words at an early age.  Maybe not spelling or punctuation, but words and the various ways a word can be used.  So of course, puns come naturally to most writers.  Even Shakespeare dabbled in puns, my favorite being dying Mercutio’s “Ask for me tomorrow, you will find me a grave man.”

Some writers also use words to confuse a main character.  If you heard a woman saying the title of this blog in a sexy voice in a bedroom, you would be certain she was talking about, well, not about Girl Scout cookies.  But in fact, I said this line to one of my parrots who didn’t know if he liked peanut butter or not.

We have a tendancy in my on-line friends’ circle, to post things we call Out of Context Theater.  Today while walking around a community lake, a gardener was cutting back brush and weeks from the path.  He paused as we walked past so that the dust and debris wouldn’t hurt us.  I called out, “You can come to my house when you’re done, I have a bush out front that needs that.”

Two steps later I absolutely wanted to go back and explain to the poor guy I didn’t mean it that way.  He wore ear protctors and the weed whacker still ran even while he waited, so I am pretty sure he didn’t hear me.

Often the OOCT lines are overheard from others, and not fully explainable.  Like : I have a whole binder full of blood borne pathogens. (Would you mind standing over there, please?  OR maybe outside?)  Or: You can stick it in if you’re feeling advernturous. (Oh, hell no!)  And this gem: Yeah, it is big. But she just wants something to slide into until she’s ready for the next step.  (I do not want to know what that next step actually is.)

I have no idea why there is a sexual connotation to the out of context comments.  *innocent look* I always enjoy books when the main characters get going in some happy jokes and puns.  And if it leads to a little heightened sexual tension, all the better.  Basically, it all comes down to fun and to being at ease enough with someone to make a pun and not feel stupid.

To bone up on word play, here’s a site for sore Ayes: http://www.premierjokes.com/puns-word-play.html If that’s not enough, here’s a list of links.  Some might be missing.  http://www.dmoz.org/Recreation/Humor/Wordplay/Puns/  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish my lunch.  I’m having a peanut butter and jealous sandwich.

Let Them Read Romance

A few days ago I read a chapter of a friend’s novel which she had posted for critique. images8AL4AT50

I read it at the end of the day, and although I hadn’t had a particularly bad day, reading that chapter made me feel much better. You see, in this particular chapter, a young man and woman who had seemingly been in danger of never getting together, were taking a step in the right direction. I did a happy dance after I read it. I sent a message to my friend letting her know that I was thrilled, that I would sleep well that night.

Did reading that chapter release some endorphins that I was unaware of? Heck, I don’t know. Maybe. I just know it made me feel good.

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This particular chapter didn’t have a sex scene – there was no physical contact. But Like eating chocolate, hearing a news story about a community coming together to help a displaced family, savoring a slice of strawberry cheesecake from Junior’s

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or holding a baby, reading that chapter made me feel… blissful, euphoric, rapturous.

Many have said that reading romance is unhealthy, escapism, ‘as addictive as porn’.  I say it’s not just the reading of romance, any genre of literature, any activity which engages a reader to excess, has the potential to be harmful.  If a reader constantly misses work or neglects caring for their children or other responsibilities because they’re too caught up in what they’re reading, then certainly they have a problem.

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But is what they read the problem? If they exhibited the same level of irresponsibility while reading other genres – such as a murder mystery or fantasy, wouldn’t that be equally damaging?  Yet it seems that Romance is the genre which is singled out as being bad, addictive and harmful.

I read someone’s comments in an online blog which said romance novels in which the use of condoms is not addressed, makes the reader irresponsible with their own sexual health. Come on. If someone reads a book – any book – in which the lovers don’t mention condoms, or if the characters discuss and decide not to use them should the content read, or the author be criticized?

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How is a person who has unprotected sex after reading a Romance any more troubled than a person who commits a murder after reading a book about murder? Are there people who tie bed sheets to themselves and jump off buildings after reading a book about super heroes? I don’t know, maybe there are. But still Romance is the genre that gets a bad rap.

Any activity that controls a person is unhealthy. If other areas of a person’s life, are neglected, to the point that the questionable activity interferes with work or daily life, is it the activity that should be blamed? Should Pink Moscato be criticized because some people become addicted to alcohol? Should we condemn Percocet to relieve pain because some people abuse it?

 

After I read my friend’s romantic chapter, I carried out my evening obligations blissfully aware that I could engage in an enjoyable activity with a clear conscience, making good choices. It’s up to everyone as adults to do the same.

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My advice to those who criticize the romance genre and the creative authors who write it? Pick up a good romance novel, maybe even some erotica. Enjoy it with a glass of Pink Moscato and then get back to your daily life.

Or even better, read a romance chapter with your sweetie. It might just spice things up a bit.

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On Medieval Speech Patterns and How Much is Too Much

Medieval language

I’ve been reading an interesting book lately on the fourteenth century and learning a huge amount – the kind of details you cannot find on the ‘net. So, since I am in the middle of my historical romance, I thought to apply some of what I’ve learned. Well, good, you might be thinking, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Except.

Now I have my characters saying things like:

“Sire, God give you good day.” Or

“Dame, good day give you our Lord.”

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Not just this, but I learned that when meeting a superior, they would kneel on one knee, including the ladies. So I had my fmc kneeling to my mmc, which is totally not right for her character in this story, especially since they have known each other for years. The more I wrote like this (trying to be realistic) the more I lost my characters. I lost my mmc, Egon, and he’s a vital character. Once I realised what was happening, I stopped writing, succoured myself with chocolate (for those who read my Lent blog post, ahem, forget I mentioned the word ‘chocolate’) and ranted at myself for a bit.

I’ve been trying to increase my attention to details, real historical ones that bring the prose alive (that’s the intention, anyway), and forgetting one extremely important detail. Too much salt obliterates the flavour. Over-salting the prose overwhelms the reader. I’m not talking about general historical details to do with weather or clothes; I’m talking about realistic speech patterns, manners and behaviour that might come across as alien to the casual reader. Either I need to reduce these details, or I need to completely re-write my ms.

Having been thinking about this for a few days, and trying to write another chapter, I’ve decided to include those details which currently feel natural for the characters, then when I edit, to add in a few more here and there. Build it up, so to speak, until I feel the speech has attained a natural balance. The problem with this is that it’s all so subjective and you can’t please everybody. I’ve decided I’ll please myself, since if I’m happy, the writing flows much easier. I think that is key. If I force the dialogue it will be unnatural. I need to familiarise myself with all of these tidbits that I’ve learned and incorporate them as and when I can do it in a way that feels totally natural.

Am I alone in getting bogged down with these details to the detriment of character and plot?

The good thing is – I find the more I write, the more I research, the more I learn, the better my first drafts are. Just, why does this whole process take so looooong:D Now I’m very glad I haven’t published my first historical. I would cringe deeply at the errors. It will be edited. Sometime…

Reblogged: Everything Is Connected by DL Hungerford

I have made a habit of using the last Sunday of every month to address issues of health for a writer. The better our health, the better chance we have to get the writing done and get our books published. On the last Sunday of February I was too sick to remember to do that. Preaching is easy, practice takes some work.

There is a particularly strong flu virus going around, so it’s good advice to stay away from crowds. And stay away from children! They carry diseases like adults carry credit cards. If you get sick, stay away from old people and anyone with a compromised immune system. In fact, stay at your computer. That’s the best advice I can give you.

Seriously, if you do get sick, follow the smart people’s advice. http://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-and-flu-map-tool/cold-and-flu-treatment-checklist Stay home until at least 24 hours after your last bout of fever, drink liquids, use saline nasal spray and throat gargle, and so on. For me, the sleep with an extra pillow does not work. When I start coughing, I won’t stop if I am sitting up or standing. Once I lay down, flat, I get better results. So be sure to adjust the checklist to your own responses.

Now, you will need to decontaminate your house. Get those wonderful antiseptic wipes and clean your keyboard, mouse, cell phone, regular phone, light switches, door knobs, pens, pencils, purses, lap tops, and anything else you touch regularly. You should buy a new toothbrush, wash your sheets with some disinfectant, and become as totally germaphobic as you can stand for a few days. Once you are done with that, you will be so tired, you will want to sleep all day. That’s fine, you can work out lots of plot issues as you fall asleep.

As a prompt, why not think of one of your favorite characters from a book you have read or a book you have written/are writing. Imagine that character getting the flu. Will he or she be stoic? Or complain bitterly and expect to be taken care of. Will there be piles of used tissues everywhere, or an empty tissue box re-purposed for the throw-aways? What happened in the character’s past that creates this type of behavior?

I have and I always will love Fitzwilliam Darcy. He admits to being spoilt as a child, so I imagine he would be somewhat demanding and expect to be taken care of. But I also see that his wife, Elizabeth, would know how to take care of him, and so he could also be stoic about his pain and suffering.

Thanks for reading! Stay well, and I will be back on Sunday.

Procrastination—Friend or Foe?

Fog Bank - Minto Brown Island from the Salem Waterfront - Edited

I should be writing. I’m a halfway through the first draft of my story for an amazing anthology I get to be a part of. Only 2,500 words away from the finish line. That’s not a lot. I could be done in half a day if I put my mind to it. Instead, I’m watching the fog burn off the river as it unhides the bank of trees. Yes, unhides. Sounded better than reveals, to me.

The thing about procrastination is there’s a time and a place for it. Ya know? It always gets a bad rap, walking around with a nasty reputation like a loose girl in the back of a fast car, who, truth be told, there is also a time and place for.

Today’s procrastination brought me quiet reflection, regeneration, and the beginnings of a new poem. I’ve pushed my poetry to the back burner for far too long. Procrastination, the little tramp, allowed me to bring it out and go for a playful romp.

Procrastination didn’t shake its finger at me, or a judgmental head—like expectation does. He just quietly encouraged me to enjoy the moment, to re-acquaint myself with an old friend. Sometimes procrastination smells the flowers before I think to. I think I’ll write him a thank you note!

I should be writing. What should you be doing?