I’m afflicted — cursed, if you will — with being that most heinous of attributes: Nice.
Some people — normal people — might think nice is a good thing. And that is, indeed, the case when you’re dealing with fellow human beings. A little kindness can go a long, long way.
But when you’re an author trying to make life difficult for your hero and heroine, a nice streak as wide as the mighty Mississippi just gets in the way.
Trust me, I know. That’s my CP’s main complaint with the MS she’s reading for me right now — and it was the main point of one of the agents who gave me detailed feedback on my 2011 Golden Heart finalist.
Obviously, it’s a problem for me.
I think it boils down to this: My characters are like old friends (some of them very old, having been knocking around my head since the mid-1990s). As I wrote in a guest post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood last spring, they’re folks I’d enjoy meeting for coffee or dinner.
And because I like these people, the last thing I want is to see them suffer.
But suffer they must. In the words of my CP, I need to “Make them wiggle. Make them squirm. Make them unhappy. Uncomfortable. Put roadblocks in their way. Conflict is what drives a book and keeps the reader wondering how they will ever end up together.”
I can see her point. There’s not much keeping someone reading if they know the hero and heroine are meant for each other halfway through the story, is there?
That means I have to accept that torturing my characters — as much as I hate to do it — will make the story stronger in the end.
So I’m taking off the gloves. Now I just need to figure out how to channel the meanest person I know.
In my other life (my day job), I’m a page designer and sometimes writer. I used to write a weekly column called “Adventures in Cooking,” which eventually became the basis for my weight-loss blog, Adventures in Weight Loss, Cooking and Life.
My job duties have shifted and I don’t have as much time for column writing anymore, so “Adventures in Cooking” fell by the wayside. But after reading our features editor’s eloquent defense of the printed page a couple of weeks ago, I was compelled to craft a response.
That response, headlined “In defense of the e-reader,” ran Sunday in the Arts & Living section of the Arizona Daily Sun.
1. Easy access. I carry my Nook — and phone — with me everywhere, so I can read anywhere, anytime.
2. Endless variety. I can read anything — anything at all. Romance dominates my collection, but I also have other options, like the Klingon Dictionary (downloaded for research, not because I’m a geek).
3. Saved space. When I traveled to New York City for RWA Nationals last summer, my e-reader — loaded with a bunch of reading material — went with me. Having several books on one compact device eliminated the need to pack five or six tomes to keep me occupied during the flight. This both lightened my bag and freed up more luggage space for the important things: clothes and shoes. (As a GH finalist, I needed a fancy gown. Being indecisive — and unsure how many other fancy events I’d be attending, I packed three.)
4. Price. While the device itself wasn’t cheap, there are a lot of low-cost books in cyberspace, available with a simple click.
5. Privacy. I can be in the middle of a steamy scene without anyone being the wiser. (That’s a huge perk, since some of my favorite books are super-steamy.)
Perhaps the column explains the huge bump in page views for this blog today? Otherwise, I’m at a loss. Why did I get 97 hits when I usually get about 10? My site stats page is no help at all.
About 12 years — and four computers — ago, I submitted a one-act play to my theater group, to be considered for their one-act festival. Not long after that, I moved to Arizona and started writing a book based on that play.
That book is “Blind Date Bride,” to date my only single-title MS:
1 very shy accountant + 1 outgoing veterinarian + 2 meddling friends = 1 marriage of decided inconvenience
This week, I got word that the group plans to include my play in their one-act festival. (You might have seen my tweet or Facebook post spreading the news.) The news was completely unexpected — and thrilling.
To be honest, I forgot about the play … or at least forgot about submitting it to Civic Players of Logansport. But I’m honored that they kept it in their files all this time and decided to put it onstage.
It was designed to be about 10 minutes in length, with a cast of four and a simple set: just two doors, perpendicular to the stage, separating the heroine/her friend and hero/his friend. The friends were in the “hallway” together, with the leads shut in separate rooms in the church basement, complaining about the mess their friends have gotten them into.
The scene later became the first scene in my MS.
I’m bummed that I won’t be able to see it, since I’m in Arizona and they’re in Indiana. But they’ve promised to send me a DVD of the performance. I can’t wait to see my words brought to life.
Indiana peeps, you can see “Blind Date Bride” as part of “Theatre One: A Collection of One-Acts,” in March. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 9 and 10, and 2:30 p.m. March 11, in Logansport.