I went to lunch today with a friend of mine. She is a big reader, particularly romance and has the distinction of being the only non-writer to read my writing. I asked her to read my tarot cards. Sadly, she doesn't read those anymore. She is into Faeries, Goddesses, Mermaids and Dolphins.
According to the Faeries, my dreams will come true. My success will bring joy to my family and the power to accomplish this lies within myself. I'm hoping this means I will soon be published, make lots of money and buy my husband the Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 he wants so badly.
The Goddesses said something similar. Oh yeah, the goddess Kali indicated I needed to end something and begin something new. Athena said the wisdom was inside of me. I can't remember the other one. I gather this means I need to get smart and tell the agents to say yea or nae on my ms so I can start pushing the next one.
The Mermaids & Dolphins are health oriented. They said I am working to hard and I need a vacation. Funny, I was chatting with Melissa today and after discussing the trials and tribulations of my family life, she said I needed a vacation. Maybe she is a mermaid, or a dolphin.
She did read my tarot cards about 3 years ago. It said to keep writing and that a man would have significant sway over my writing career. I do have an ms with a male agent. Hmm....
No, I don't believe in all of this stuff, but as a human, I can't help but be intrigued by the metaphysical. Sometimes I wish I did. I would love to believe that a pretty card was telling me my dreams would come true.
I caught my heroine sitting at a small cafe on the Left Bank smoking a cigarette and drinking espresso, watching the happy couples go by. Hunched in her trenchcoat, she straightened her sunglasses and muttered "What eez 'appiness?"
Unfortunately for Maria, she is actually traveling in a curricle with the hero in 1808, heading towards Derbyshire and the moors of the Peaks District.
I really dislike writing introspection. It is too easy to lose control of the characters. I like writing action scenes. I prefer movement. But I need these little bridge scenes before I get back to the violence. Romance characters think and feel too much. They are not pestered by the mundane concerns like what to fix for dinner. They have much grander issues to apply themselves to. Maria slept with the hero, fell in love and found out the next morning her feelings weren't reciprocated. Now she is stuck in the carriage with him for hours alone and I've got to get into her head. As you can imagine, it isn't pretty.
But I need to show her motivations for what comes next. My reader needs to understand why she acts the way she does, it is necessary for the external conflict. Just a few more pages and the action returns.
Okay, a quick break on the writing discussion to complain about my inlaws. While I do adore them and am very lucky in some respects, they do something that infuriates me.
My SIL will be 40 this summer. She has a couple of bachelor degrees. She lives at home, has never been married and never held a full time job. She suffers from depression and has been in therapy for the last oh, 20 some odd years. Bottom line is she really has no interest in recovery. Why should she? She lives at home rent free, doesn't pay her own bills, hangs out with her buddies and drinks beer, etc. On the other hand, she really has no life to speak of. So she is constantly searching for something. Her new thing is stand up comedy. She took a class and had dove into hit with everything she had. Great, I'm thrilled she has found something she enjoys. Her parents have gone all out for this and attend many of her shows, driving hours away to be present. Isn't that great?
I have 3 kids, two who are involved in youth sports. My inlaws have been to one tee ball game when my son was 4. He's 9 now. They've never been to a soccer game, they've never been to my daughter's tee ball games. Nothing. They live 10 minutes away.
It gets worse. My nephews are involved in modeling and acting. No, they haven't done anything significant, so no one would recognize them. There mother works. So whenever they are called on an audition, my inlaws drop everything and drive the kids an hour or more to whatever thing they have.
Yeah, it frosts my cookies pretty bad. My parents go to everything. They've missed maybe 2 games in all of the seasons of sports. They make plans with my kids and take them places. They enjoy the time.
No, my kids aren't suffering for it. At this point, they don't care. The real ones who will suffer are my inlaws. My kids get so much attention from my folks plus my dh and I are ultra-involved in their activities, I doubt the other grandparents are missed.
But I know, and I do resent it. Not sure how dh feels. I think he is disappointed. Anyway, it isn't a new problem, but I needed to burn it off my chest.
Sigh...my ms "City of Angels" has been with two agents for 20 weeks. Isn't it odd I talk about it using a method of measure I would use if I were pregnant? What is frustrating is the two agents had the partial for 5 months before they asked for the full. Another agent has had the full for a month, so I'm not too concerned there. But I am getting a little antsy.
As I posted yesterday, my scores for "City of Dreams" (brownie points to those who figured out they are connected, I'm not real clever with titles ) were quite good and I'd like to give the ms its chance at submission...BUT...I'm tied up with the first book. Entre nous "COD" is better than "COA" although they are both good. I have third book in the trilogy partially plotted, but I don't dare try and write it because a) while it would stand on its own, it compliments the other two and b) the hero is Asian-American and I fear I will have problems selling it without the other two as back up.
The next problem is I am currently working on a historical. It leans towards romantic suspense and it is near completion. I predict it will be ready for submission by the end of May to mid-June. I really don't want to be sitting on two complete & polished mss while one is in limbo.
I took the problem to the AAAPro loop. It was suggested that I set a date next month and contact the agents, asking them, politely, to make up their minds or at least give me status. Sigh...the thought of making such a move gives me the dry heaves. I don't like conflict and I am terrified at what their answer will be.
For now, I can jump with anticipation every time the phone rings. I can wake up Monday morning and think this will be the week I could get the call from an agent and have representation. If I am proactive, I could receive an answer I don't want to hear.
I've yet to pick a date. I thought maybe May 21 since that is my birthday. I'm turning 38, so I might as well get all my misery over in one day. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.
I got my GH scores today. I got an 8, 4, 8, 8.3, 7.2. This put me in the top 25% of the entrants. I was pleased with scores. Where the 4 came from, I have no idea. Well, I knew it wouldn't appeal to everyone.
While I'm glad I entered, I don't know that I would enter again. The stress was more than I really liked. My friend Melissa was far more riled about the 4 than I was. Contests are subjective, even the GH. I'm happy with my scores, my ms passed muster from my standpoint.
Fourteen pages of lust. Yep, a fourteen page love scene. And now the fun begins.
Oh, she is so happy. She is dressing with care, eager to see her lover in the morning light, to feel his kiss and here those words all women want to hear: "take my credit card, spend what you like, there is no limit"
Oops, that's not what I meant. She can't wait to hear him tell her how much he loves her. He will take her in his arms and pledge to love her forever and ask her to marry him.
He, on the other hand, is very unhappy. He has slept with the cousin of his one true love. The woman is vulnerable, and like a cad, he took her to bed. He can't even blame it on drink. So what that it was the most magnificent sex he'd ever experienced, he violated the code of ethics he lives by and now has to question his own behavior, something he doesn't want to do.
He will tell her flat out he doesn't love her. I'm not sure if he will offer to marry her or not. I don't think he will. Or maybe he will and she will refuse. A good slap in the face might be in order and not one of those sissy ones. She's gonna wallop him.
Whatever happens, it has to be explosive. As beautiful and breathless as the lovemaking is, the consequences have to be proportionally dire. From the heights of Mt. Everest to the depths of the sea, the emotions have to move in dynamic waves.
"He thrust slowly, the passion nearly undoing him when..."
The baby has toilet paper in her hair, why does she have toilet paper in her hair? I ran upstairs to the bathroom to find a roll of toilet paper gobbed into the toilet while wet toilet paper clung to the seat like some sickly fungus. More wet toilet paper littered the floor, the globs making for a delightful mess.
How does one get back into the mood of writing a love scene after that? My inclination is to have the heroine knee the hero and get the hell out of there. Do I really want to put my heroine in a dangerous situation where she could be cleaning up wet toilet paper from a 2 year old's hair? Or scrubbing the floor because said 2 year old took an entire bottle of Bath & Bodyworks Flowering Herb lotion all over the floor.
Children do not add to romance. I'm not sure why authors love to include them. Maybe they don't have children themselves. Or maybe their kids are grown and they don't remember how rotten their kids were. Or maybe its my kids. All three of them have their talents for making me insane, but the 2 year old is a prize winner. I almost never include kids in my writing, I live with them too much in reality to allow them to invade my fiction.
I had a brilliant idea for a Regency romp, a light-hearted little story full of madcap adventures and humor. So tonight, as I thought more about it, the story took a dark and sad turn. Obviously an HEA is the promise, but the story has a dark turn full of painful emotions.
This happens to me everytime. I'm really not a dark person. But I love to write emotionally charged scenes. I enjoy putting two people in a room with something painful between them and let them go at each other.
Too often, I read romances where the author stops short of going for the juggler. The hero and heroine are ready to really break into a loud, difficult conflict and the maid walks in to tell them someone's dead or a family member is in trouble, something that diffuses the intensity of the situation. The hero and heroine get into some kind of trouble and they are so thrilled to be back together, the conflict is forgotten or at least pacified.
I really enjoy "Six Feet Under" on HBO. The writers are not afraid of conflict. I think it was the end of the second season and the two characters Nate discovers his fiancee Brenda has been unfaithful in a big way. These two go at each other with an intensity I'd never seen before on television. No holds barred, they cut to the quick of their conflict, baring their souls in a painful way.
We tend to avoid conflict in our day to day lives. I know I do. Yes, that means the 2 year old gets the cookie just so I don't have to fight with her. But isn't it far more interesting to watch when someone else takes on the battle? Isn't that why we watch "Jerry Springer" with such lurid fascination? Hence, we should try to do the same thing in our writing. If its bad, make it worse.
Sigh...Whenever I go into deep-writing mode, I neglect everything else. So I woke up this morning determined to get some housecleaning done. I've also noticed I'm putting on weight, so I'm getting the Cooking Light magazines out and preparing a menu for next week. Vons is offering free delivery on their groceries, so I'm hoping to get my list ready and order it online.
Deep-writing mode is great, but if you have responsibilities outside of writing, it becomes vital to balance. It isn't easy to do. Sometimes writing has to take a backseat. I have found the writers who say that writing must take center stage don't have kids. Or their kids are grown.
But my take on the situation is this: I don't care how many times I hit the bestseller list, thirty years after my death no one will remember my name. My children will. My children's children will. That is the true legacy.
I'm coming up to the point in my WIP where the hero and heroine go crazy and sleep together. I can't wait. Writing love scenes is one of my favorite things to write. I love the challenge of blending emotion and action, of using sensuality with unrestricted elan. I usually go in knowing exactly what I'm trying to accomplish, but I'm flying blind on this one. I do know it has to be the best sex ever for the hero. Heroine is a virgin, so what does she know? But I do want them to wake up the next morning with completely different ideas about the night passed.
She will wake up in love, knowing she has found her life partner. He will wake realizing he has compromised a young woman in the most scurrilous fashion. He is convinced he is in love with another woman. In his mind, he has betrayed the woman he loves and the innocence of a young woman he was sent to protect.
The sex part is easy, its the conflict it creates that will be the challenge in this scene.
I want her devastated, but so devastated she is a whiny mess. She has survived worse. He needs to understand his guilt is misplaced. She will survive (hey, that would make a great song). Being a true 19th century guy, he can't understand her need for independence and disdain for what he can offer her. It has and will be a conflict for them through the whole book, right up to the last page.
We unpubbed writers are obsessed with word counts. We are terrified we are going to be too short or too long. How do publishers and agents figure this out? It should be fairly simple, but its not. There is the basic formula of page # x 250. This is based on a ms written in Courier 12 with exactly 25 lines per page. This formula doesn't work if you are writing in TNR 12. There was a formula for that as well, but I forgot it. I do have some other very complicated formulas that takes multiplying my character count with some other number. I'm sure it has something to do with the rings around Saturn. Then there is the computer word count. Which do you go with?
For example, my current WIP is 64750 words using the page # x 250 formula. The computer word count is 10K words less. That is a significant number or is it? I write single title, so I'm not too worried. No doubt an editor will ger ahold of it and decide what they want to do. I shoot for 100K words. If I go by the formula, my computer word count is about 20K less. To be honest, I'm going to use the number that will hold the most advantage for me.
Word count is the least of your worries if you are writing single title. Obviously you need to be concerned if your book is 500 pages. It might be a bit too long, no matter what formula you are using. But for the most part, what those words say is by far more important.
I'm working on a historical that takes place in 1808. Sigh...the research is almost constant. My heroine uses hacks to get around London. You know how hard it is not to say the word "cab?" But the word didn't exist. I also wanted my hero to be on the cutting edge of weapons. So I had to learn about percussion pistols. They were invented in 1807, so not too many people would have been familiar with them. Using appropriate language adds to the exertion of brain power. Have to find new ways to say certain things: "You suck" becomes "I find your character disagreeable." I do a lot of translating in my head. But I'm on page 248, so I'm moving right along. I hope to be done with this particular book by the end of the month. Then I want to go back to contemporary.
Saturday I went to my RWA chapter meeting. I got my Pro Pin and had to get up and say something. I'm a good public speaker, given some warning, but on the spot like that.....ugh....I'm sure I looked like an idiot. Really, I write better than I speak. My chapter regularly has between 100-150 at a meeting, so it was daunting. But oh well...
Sunday I went to the The Club and worked out like a dog. It felt great then I headed to the courtyard and started reading Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson. It's a kick and I'm quite enjoying.
Today, hubby took the kids to Legoland and his aunt took the youngest for most of the afternoon. I took my laptop and sat in the gazebo and wrote for at least two hours. I did about nine pages.
I came to the conclusion my heroes would have no romantic interest in me whatsoever. Why do I write them this way?
I say "dude" too much. My heroes wouldn't be interested in ValleySpeak girl. I also swear too much. My heroes tend to be refined, classy.
To be fair, I wouldn't be all that hot to date them either except they are rich and drive nice cars. Oh, and they are gorgeous.
But at the core, we would not be compatible. Hmm....perhaps it is a natural way of putting distance between me and my characters. My characters never lead me around, I can say I am always in control of my hero and heroine. Plot sometimes gets away, but usually in a good manner because there is a hole that needs to be patched. I do not write people that I want to hang around with. My writing tends to be dark and the traumas my characters go through are beyond what I would deal with in real life.
I suppose what it gets down to is my heroes are large than life, which is appropriate to romance writing. They possess characteristics not found in the average man, or at least characteristics the average guy is going to exploit. While they are three dimensional, I do not dwell on the bad traits, unless I need them to further the conflict.
My husband asks if he is the model for my heroes. Beyond sliding him a doubting glance, I don't say anymore. I will bother "guy" things from my hubby to use, but my heroes are nothing like my spouse. My spouse is very bright and far too logical to make a good hero. He is never ruled by his emotions. He thinks before he acts. If he were the hero of a novel, it would be a very short book.